Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Voice

This past few months I've been working hard at taking Finian to the shopping centre by myself... in, without James, my 6ft tall triathlete husband who can handle the physicality of Finian's tantrums with ease.
It makes me feel tremendously secure to know that, in the event of a melt-down, James can hold him and calm him, while I get to stare killer death-rays at anyone who dares to tut-tut at what they no doubt see as a spoiled screaming brat.
Also, staring death-rays does not require me to break a sweat and smooths out my wrinkles, which is always a plus.

But I need to get better at taking Finian out on my own, as naturally James can't be there every time we need a pint of milk.

Going out with Finian by myself are real Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway trips.
I am a wobbly (literally as well as metaphorically), vertically challenged Mrs Punyverse who finds it hard to strong-arm the laundry into the washing machine, never mind subdue a thrashing seven year old who JUST WANTS TO PLAY WITH THE TRAFFIC GODDAMMIT!!!!!

Trips to the shopping centre can be horribly distressing to an autie kid as they can get overpowered by the the constant sensory assaults of lights, sounds, smells and the sense of frantically rushing people.
Over the years he has gradually become desensitized to them, but sometimes he still gets overwhelmed and flips out.

Our Occupational and Speech Therapists advised me to plan short trips and to work to an agenda with a concrete beginning, middle and end.
This aims to give the autistic person a sense of certainty in an unpredictable world.
Because his reading is so good, I write a short list of 3 or 4 places we will visit in each trip, and so far he has felt secure enough with this to cope pretty well.

But going to the shopping centre armed with a scrap of paper instead of a muscle-bound husband feels like bungee jumping off a bridge and halfway down thinking "oops!  I seem to have forgotten the rope."

On a recent quaking visit to the shops, Finian attempted to shoplift a packet of crisps while I paid at the checkout.
I was a bit annoyed as I thought son, if you're gonna shoplift, go for rubies or diamonds...not feckin Taytos  and I made my apologies to the checkout lady, explaining that he has special needs.

And all of a sudden she adopted The Voice.
You know the one, where people talk VERY...SLOWLY...AND...VERY...LOUDLY... to your child, while you smile back through gritted teeth and wonder would anyone mind awfully if you furnished her with a pair of concrete boots and gave her a short shove from a tall pier.

The rest of that shopping trip went as smooth as butter, and I even managed to calm my murderous thoughts with a cappuccino, while the very well behaved Finian had a coke and chips.

It's always a good day when there is coffee and no homicides.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Full-Time Mum...Part-Time Dragon Slayer

My kids sometimes refer to a time in my life, back in the stone age, when I used to be a nurse.

Sometimes my daughter Ellen will frown like she is working out a particularly intractable puzzle and say "didn't you used to be a nurse?" like the notion is so alien that she may as well ask if I used to breathe fire and have scaly skin (although some days that part is true).

"Hey lady, I TOLD you I was pissed off!"

By the time Finian (my third child) was born, it became increasingly difficult to cope with being pulled in forty directions at the same time.
Remember Britney Spears singing "Do You Want A Piece Of Me"?  Well that could have been me.
Except for the blonde hair.
And the abs.
And the whole looking-like-Britney thing.
But I can belt out that song in the car like a cat in a bag (being ever careful to protect the ears of the public by only doing so behind sound-proof glass.  I was a nurse, remember).

So I surprised myself by deciding to become a full-time mum without feeling the need to gouge my own eyes out and eat my own hair.

Over the last few years I've found that being a full time mum is like belonging to an unregulated sub-culture that has no policies, time-tables or career pathays to define it.
This threw me a bit, as in nursing there are policies for everything, from hand-washing to bum-wiping.  It was a bit disconcerting to have to navigate through life's chaos with the feral creatures that are my children, without the comfort of a rule book.
While I haven't devolved into a  child-eating zombie who forages in bins and  wears her husband's clothes, I have to make a huge effort not to.  Somedays I even look quite nice and can manage to trick people into believing that I know what I'm doing (the fools!!!).
It can be head-wrecking and frustrating trying to figure out which direction to go in, and learning to throw away the procedures manual and trust my instinct has been the most difficult transition of all.

But I get to make (and break) my own rules as I go along, and I can take as many tea-breaks as I like without upsetting the union.

Being a full-time mum has surprised me by being  rewarding, enriching and really good fun.
I get to wipe away tears, slay dragons and have the most delicious cuddles on the sofa watching Bob the Builder.

Plus I get to sleep with the staff, which was never encouraged when I worked in a hospital.