Alike, But Different.

On Wednesday night I woke around 1am to find myself being sick on and off through until 8am. It goes without saying that Thursday was not a great day for me. Thankfully Ted worked from home and my children offered me plastic cups of “medicine” and gave me hugs and kisses (that I should have fought off due to my potential contagiousness!), they also whined a lot and ran around arguing. Being ill as a grown-up with kids is the worst. The best time to be ill is when you are a kid and a parent looks after you.

Brighton Pride 2018

Anyway, I felt a lot better on Friday and we had a good day with the kids (some top secret modelling, but will share more about that at some point!), we took them to the park in the afternoon and met a lady with a 4 year old son who has special needs. We got chatting and we found ourselves in a position we’ve been in before – struggling to empathise with someone who thinks you can. She sees another “special needs family” and shares her story, but we feel, well, like we occupy a different space; Audrey isn’t “severely” special needs, but she’s not typical either. She sits in a space in between the two. I’m not denying Audrey has special needs, she definitely does and you only have to spend time with other 4-5 year olds to know that she is “different”. However we often find ourselves chatting to someone who is offloading about their child (with some form of special needs) constantly waking in the night, struggling to communicate, challenging behaviour, interacting with other children (hitting, tantrums)… for the most part I can only really apply some of these challenges to Rex!

This lady said she was surprised we had chosen to have another child after our first had special needs! Ha! How we laughed about that one on the way home. All children are hard work and of course, children with special needs present a different set of challenges, but Audrey made us feel very comfortable about doing it all again. Rex, however, well and truly scuppered plans for any more kids!

That evening I was very much looking forward to a decent sleep (as even Thursday night I was restless). As discussed with the lady in the park, Audrey is a good sleeper, but Rex sometimes shouts in his sleep.

Around 2am the dreaded sound of Audrey retching reached my ears – I was out of bed like a shot. There she was, sat upright, sick in her bed and bright and chatty “Sorry Mummy” she said as I wiped up the sick. And after vomiting in the bucket I held for her, “Phew! That’s a lot of sick!” She said, brushing her hair back.

She literally couldn’t get any better. After returning to bed and several more leaps back out to her aid with the bucket, I decided it would make more sense for Audrey and I to sleep in the spare bedroom together. So I scooped her up and laid next to her in the double bed, bucket at the ready.

As soon as I laid in the dark with her, I felt around to find her face and gently stroke it. She did exactly the same and stroked my face. She whispered that we were in “Uncle Graeme’s bed” (because he stayed in our spare room for a week during his chemo this year). She has a snotty nose at the moment, so within minutes she was asleep but snoring like, well, like her Uncle Graeme. I realised that I was really going to struggle to sleep, but do you know what? I strangely didn’t care. I could smell her sicky breath, but I could also feel her warm body right next to me and I felt so lucky to be her mummy. To be her protector.

In the morning I was awoken by many things (Audrey’s feet kicking me, the light coming through the half-closed blind, Rex thrashing about in his cot), but it was magical to wake to the sound of Rex saying “I want Audrey back!”.

A day in the life

So I may have said this before, but having a cute kid with lots of hair and glasses is like stepping out with a celebrity. She gets so much attention. 

Today this is roughly how our day panned out…

9am: off out to catch a bus to our group for babies with special needs. See bus, do an enthusiastic sign for “bus”, wave the bus goodbye and see smiling faces on the passengers who have witnessed the joy at the event.

(We had at this point, just missed our actual bus, so we popped off to pick up a coffee from a favourite local trendy place).

9.15am: wave at beardy man in queue, get a wave back. Marvel at pastry treats behind glass (“Wow!”). Wave at everyone and anyone, receive wave back from man that Mummy had incorrectly pre-judged as grumpy.

9.20am: back at bus stop. See dog, sign “dog” and attempt to reach the dog from the sling position. Mummy thanks the man for stopping. Drunk man passes and compliments Audrey’s “bins”.

9.30am: get on our bus. Wave at people out the window, dance when the bus is stopped in traffic and the engine sounds like music (to Audrey’s ears).

9.35am: bus stops for a while by the shopping mall. Wave at man who isn’t looking until Mummy points out a willing participant who is watching from the bus stop. Waving back and forth is fun, but starts to get a bit uncomfortable once we are stopped there for a while. Mummy looks in opposite direction.

9.40am: motion of bus too much, fall asleep on Mummy and miss a dog that gets on the bus and sits right by us.

10am: arrive at reception for baby group, bum shuffle to the centre of the room, wave and say “Hi Daddy!” to the two ladies in reception. Throw ball.

10.03am: enter room for Early Stages group, greet all nursery nurses with a wave and “Hi!”, see tent filled with lights and say “Wow!”.

10.03-11.30am: greet any arrivals with a wave. Play at every station, but not for too long, lots of bum shuffling to do. Successfully make a choice at singing time (choosing is hard, Mummy advised offer row row and it’s a no brainer). Enthusiastically take part in all songs, clap and say “Yeah!” at the end of each one. Mummy beams with pride.

11.30am: have lunch. Make lots of yummy noises and copy speech and language therapist when she mimes rubbing her tummy. Everyone marvels at the signing.

12pm: bum shuffle over to the mirror and amuse everyone with babbling. Say what sounds like “Hi ladies!”. Leave with Mummy, wave bye bye and blow big kisses!

12.10pm: wave at girl at bus stop, who waves back and I think remembers us from last week.

12.20pm: get on bus, lady sits next to us and chatters at Mummy, wave to lady. Lady compliments eyelashes (Audrey’s, no one cares about Mummy’s anymore), marvels at Audrey’s old lady name.

12.30pm: fall asleep.

1.30pm: wake up, surprised to find we are on another bus. Stare at lady next to us as she has amazing sunglasses and a crazy hat on. Blow her a kiss.

2pm: arrive to play in waiting room ahead of eye test. Wave to everyone in room.

2.05pm: have to look at a light and some tiny toys, do ok, but not thrilled about it. Have eye drops and cry. Lady says Audrey really looks like Mummy when she is about to cry. Hmmm. Wave goodbye to lady as if she is a best friend and not the mean lady who put drops in eyes.

2.20pm: more crying in waiting room as older child knocks down a tower of bricks. Smiles and clapping once Mummy sings.

2.40pm: more eye test annoyance. Shake hands with eye lady. Lots of wriggling and noises of discontent. Eat rice cake to recover.

3pm: bus home, not feeling the best. Lots of thumb sucking and cuddling with Mummy.

3.30pm: in the shops. Lady comes to compliment glasses. Give her a smile and wave despite feeling under the weather.

4pm: more waving in the supermarket, lots of comments about those lovely rosy cheeks (ezcema!).

4.15pm: get home, play with toys and have some down time after all that waving.

The end.

No photos taken today, but this was last week skipping radio channels for our daily dance party…


Update: here she is today. Red cheeks and all: