The things we do: Transition to a successful birthday

OK so anyone who may have read my previous #WASO post ‘Doing what has to be done’, last week I said I would tell you more about Beeswax’s VERY successful 13th birthday treat once I had sorted out a few of my favourite photos from that day.

Well here goes! Actually this post fits quite nicely with ‘The Adoption Social’s’ ‘The Things we do’ linky.

Ok, so other than my sheer determination to prove to Beeswax that his birthday is not jinxed by concealing the death of my mother-in-law for a few extra days. Although my instincts were right and once he had been told, he did try to suggest that ‘the birthday jinx’ had struck but this time I was ready for him with over 700 photographs (713 to be exact!) which suggested (and he could not argue with) his 13th birthday was more than a success and for maybe the first time in several years he enjoyed his birthday.

Between you, me and the tinternet, I will confess that I was terrified that I wouldn’t pull it off and we would have been hundreds of miles away with two very distressed boys.

So how did I manage it?

As the boys are very different in the reactions and needs when it comes to change and transitions.

Birthday boy is some ways is the easiest.

  • GIVE HIM AS LITTLE WARNING AS POSSIBLE – otherwise he will end up sabotaging it because it doesn’t fit with his view of himself and what he deserves.
  • Get him to help you organise the snacks and entertainment for the journey.
  • Constantly reassure him throughout the journey and day that we will have lunch, snacks, etc.
  • Give him something to fiddle with so that ‘mum & dad’ are not pulling their hair out trying to stop him ‘toddler touching’ everything within reaching distance.
  • And, finally do our best to make sure Buzzbee doesn’t “WIG OUT” and “SHOW HIM UP”

If I follow these few guidelines usually, we can keep Beeswax calm and on track for a great day.

In order to achieve the last bullet point – keeping Buzzbee calm, a lot more preparation is needed and in all honesty we nearly came unstuck 10 minutes before arriving at the Snowdome but after a frantic mad dash for my phone and the wonder of google images – full scale panic meltdown averted.

Buzzbee finds change very difficult and will become very anxious when visiting unfamiliar places. He also finds public places and surrounding noises disorientating. So he needs lots of preparation – military style planning sometimes (I won’t put them all because I will be here all night).

  • Prepare a book for him, showing images of the Snowdome and information about what is there, how we will get there, what the private instructor was called (actually the snowdome were wonderful and provided us with a picture in advance) – go through the book with him as many times as he needed to.
  • Bumble allowed Buzz to familiarise himself with skis by taking his old set out of the loft and leaving them in his room.
  • Make sure that Buzzbee’s favourite cuddly toy and film were in the car along with his chocolate milkshake.
  • Buy his a cheap sweatshirt to wear – we know he is going to chew it so this way his won’t fret and neither will we (Ideally he would have had his SensaChew dog tags but that wouldn’t have been safe).
  • As Beedog was going to a dog sitter, letting Buzz create a going away bag with transitional objects, helped him feel that she would be looked after how he wanted her too.  I also came with me to settle her in.
  • Once we arrived at the Snow Dome, the most important thing to do was walk around and allow him to familiarise himself with his surroundings and the noise (which actually was not too bad).

Yes, most of these things for both boys could make or break a daytrip (and trust me 4/5 times we have not been so successful in managing their anxiety in public).  For the day Bumble and I had 2 big goals – Make sure Beeswax had the best birthday ever and support the boys in their need to be perfect at everything, if they don’t quite get the hang of it or fall over.

Tick and Tick (although we needn’t have worried about the second because they are both very coordinated and were naturals – only 2 falls happened. One was more of a Buzzbee sensory seeking dive and the other Beeswax got his skis tangled when using the rope lift and caused a domino effect that left all unable to get back to their feet because they were too busy laughing).

I could go ahead and pat myself and Bumble on the back for a job well done! But, I don’t need to because looking back at the pictures I took that day, there is no question that Beeswax had a fantastic birthday and really enjoyed himself – he is smiling and looks relaxed (generally he either looks like he is about to tear your head off or his eyes look like he is somewhere else).

Many of our friends (not adoptive ones of course) believe we go over the top with preparing the boys but like the title of this post it is ‘the things we do’ to help our son’s experience new experiences to the best of their abilities.

snowdome collage

The Things We Do

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