Tag Archive | skiing

Sky-high holiday anxieties

As you read this weeks’ #WASO post you may be thinking, depending on your own personal opinion or experience, “Is she absolutely mad?” or “How exciting”, or you may have mixed feeling as I do.

Let me explain before you all begin to think I have completely lost the plot – not that there was much plot left for me too loose. Last year Beeswax’s school announced that they would be taking a handful of students skiing for a week in March and Waxy was one of the boys selected to go. We thought ‘fabulous’, ‘what a great experience for Waxy’, who incidentally was standing right beside me when the assistant principal told me about it.

And, then he told us the date… The week of Waxy’s birthday! Waxy would be spending his 14th birthday on the slopes in the French Alps with his teachers and peers instead of his family.

The dilemma then became whether we agree to Waxy going away that week or become selfish, mean parents who say “No, you always spend your birthday with us”. Okay we were never going to say that and to be honest, there was a part of us which felt quite melancholy about the idea of not getting to see him on his birthday, as I have already mentioned Beeswax was with me when his teacher told me about the trip and him being one of only a handful of boys chosen to go. We really couldn’t say know without it causing all sorts of meltdowns and putting added strain on an already fragile relationship with him. In reality we wouldn’t have said no anyway, because it is a wonderful opportunity for Waxy. Being chosen is an incredible boost for his self-esteem, and, from a parents’ point of view there is the added bonus that School were paying for the trip and equipment hire. We only have to provide spending money and his clothes.

ski

However, Buzzbee was less than happy with Waxy’s news when he discovered that Waxy would be away on his birthday. Buzzbee couldn’t at first get his head around Waxy wanting to go on holiday with his friends and teachers and spend his birthday with them and not with Buzzbee as he has always done since Buzzbee was born. But, with a little reassurance that Waxy wouldn’t miss out on celebrating his birthday with us and that on Waxy’s birthday we will arrange with school staff, a time for Buzz and Waxy to Skype each other. Oh and the fact that the assistant head who is going on the trip has agreed to take a surprise present with him from Buzzbee for Waxy to open on the morning of his birthday. Result one little brother almost as pleased for his brother as everyone else.

Now for the mad woman part!!!!!!

With Buzzbee still anxious about missing his big brother’s birthday, Bumble and I started to think about maybe taking Buzzbee away for a few days ourselves while Waxy was on his school trip. So, we suggested this to the boys as an idea and asked Buzz if he had any ideas what he would like to do, thinking he would suggest what he always does and say “go to Centre Parcs”, but Waxy piped up first and said “why don’t you take him to Disneyland Paris”?

Do I really need to tell you Buzzbee’s reaction?

Waxy has openly stated before that if he is going to ‘do Disney’, he is going to go big and that means he only wants to go to Disney World in Florida, so in his mind us taking Buzzbee to Paris would be the best plan for everyone, because Buzzbee would get a big exciting holiday, while he is off with school having an amazing time skiing – Waxy has never actually said anything but we have known for a while that he is worried about Buzz missing him.

So after an awful lot of ‘umming and erring’, this week Bumble and I have bitten the bullet and booked flights and 4 nights stay in Disneyland Paris for Buzzbee, Bumble and myself.

So at the beginning I said you will either think I am a mad woman, or that it is exciting news or, you have similar mixed feelings to myself. What must I be thinking? Buzzbee lives on the ‘dysregulated Express’ almost minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, and here we are, not only thinking of taking him to the French capital of sensory overload, but we are also adding extra lunacy to the mix by booking a flight to travel over to there, so that Buzzbee can finally get to experience something he has been talking about wanting to do for a couple of years.   I have to also confess that I am more than a little excited by our holiday because “I absolutely love anything Disney” myself and I get to go into Paris for one of the days – all of course dependant on how Buzzbee is fairing.

OK I am not really worried about taking Buzzbee into the Disney resort because we have taken him to theme parks before and over the time we have managed to identify most of his trigger points and adjust our plans to best accommodate his needs as they arise, if we haven’t in fact already identified a potential ‘hot spot’ and made sure we have the right tools to hand so he can experience as much as he feels comfortable with each day. It also helps that the ratio of adults to child (2:1) means if (or should I say when) he begins to get a little more intense, we can tag-team, which means when one of us can feel ourselves beginning to unravel, the other can take over for a short time.

And… Peace and Harmony will follow us all day long. Well, I can dream but at least we will have a better chance of supporting Buzzbee without our own self-regulation skills flying out of the resort and back over the English Channel.

Now the flight. I am not going to lie, I have written about it before. The idea of Buzzbee in an airport, let alone sat on an aeroplane scares me to death. Everything that Buzzbee struggles with all in one place and, unlike the Disney resort, I have absolutely no idea how he is going to react to it all.

But, we are not going to let that stop us. We know our son best and with a little (OK a lot of) planning and preparation, and probably a sizable amount of helpful advice from people who have been there and lived to tell the tale, we will help him cope with this new experience.

I have already started gathering information and ideas of how best to prepare him for his holiday, one of which we have tested out this week in a local café with great success and a noticeable change in his emotional regulation, leaving me to wonder why I had not thought about trying noise cancelling headphones before. I knew he wouldn’t wear ear defenders because he thought people would laugh at him, but wearing headphones, well that is completely different! Nobody would ever laugh at a boy wearing cool headphones, would they?

headphone

So this week we have told Buzzbee that the holiday is booked and answered his questions about when, where and how we would get there and left it at that, with the intention of a little closer to the time beginning to prepare him little by little about what to expect and talk with him about situations where he may need extra support from his dad and I.

Buzzbee (and Beeswax too in all honesty) obviously have different ideas of when to start beginning to discuss the ‘nitty, gritty’ of what to expect from their holidays, and while there is a limit to the information I can give Waxy at this time because, well… school haven’t told us yet and I can’t talk to him about plans that I don’t know about, whereas with Buzzbee I can answer most of his questions and the ones I cannot answer straight away I can find out for him (any tips gratefully received).

But, it is clear that while I thought I may have a couple of more weeks to go to prepare, I actually need to come up with a plan now and begin preparing them both for what to expect.

So, ‘Next week’

  • We will start our countdown to our holiday (Ok this afternoon I have found a nice bit of cardboard and called on my trusty ruler to make a countdown time board ready to stick up on the wall ‘Next week’).
  • I will need to start gathering information from school.
  • Researching information about the workings of Heathrow airport as well as finding information out about expectations for the flight.
  • Gather maps of the Disney resort, information about the hotel, facts about Paris itself etc. etc. etc.
  • Put all the facts together neatly into an age appropriate scrapbook/social story for each of them to look at, when they feel the need for it.

Oh and I not forgetting ‘Next week’ I need to get Buzzbee to flutter his eyelids at his nanny and granddad and ask them to look after Beedog while we are away.

countdown

 

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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