Battered

I have a fat lip today.

It happened yesterday when I was changing Pudding. I’m usually on my guard and can stay safe until I’ve managed to distract him with tickles and nonsense, but this time a well-aimed kick when I wasn’t expecting it caught me full on the mouth. It bled a bit and swelled up impressively.

Poor me.

Only that’s not really the full picture, is it? All behaviour is communication and none of it was his fault. He doesn’t like being messed with (who would?!) so sometimes complains vigorously. It wasn’t a well-aimed kick – it was him flailing his legs around to try and get out of a situation he didn’t like. To accuse him of kicking me implies that he is capable of wanting to cause me pain and I just don’t think he could.

Yes, he deliberately hits out and kicks particularly in situations where someone is in his space or he is provoked. But not ever maliciously. There isn’t one iota of nastiness or spite in my boy. And I hope anyone who knows him would say the same.

But in life, of course, we meet many people who don’t know him. And that is why each and every interaction outside our safe zone puts me on edge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYesterday, we had a trip out to William’s Den, a superb natural-themed play space for families (that also has a Changing Places toilet!). It’s out of our local area so, as I hoped, it wasn’t too busy being that we’re one of the few places where children are still off school. Pudding loved running around the place and exploring. When he discovered the hideout with cushions where some other children were building a den I knew he was likely to start kicking it over, and the children too if they happened to be in the way. They eyed him warily and I dived in as usual to warn, explain and negotiate his way through a world that often doesn’t understand him.

But our story is not really what this post is about. My fat lip was just a reminder about a door that isn’t often opened. A door to an area that many people aren’t aware of: parents who are on the receiving end of violence from their children.

You see, we’re pretty lucky really. Pudding is still good-natured and distractable enough to be managed most of the time. I get the occasional bump and bruise but it’s nothing compared with what some parents face on a weekly or even daily basis. It has been talked about more lately, partly due to the work of the lovely Yvonne Newbold who works tirelessly to ensure that parents and professionals learn from her own extensive experience. (If you are struggling in that position yourself, I do urge you to read some of her resources and join the Facebook page.) I know that our future is uncertain – as Pudding gets bigger and stronger, his behaviour may worsen too, but I know that I’ll be able to turn to places like this for help and advice.

Violent and challenging behaviour is hard to deal with in any situation. But then I also come across parents of (usually) autistic children who feel unable to raise this issue or even mention it for fear of backlash from professionals or others within their community. People who will jump down their throats and accuse them of bad parenting.

All most of us ever want to do is to keep our children safe, understand why they are acting the way they are, and let them know they are loved. And doing that without being judged or criticised doesn’t seem like too much of an ask. I am sometimes very grateful that I only have a small friendly readership and can rant on here in virtual privacy.

Not quite sure what this post has ended up saying really. But I suppose my (rather garbled) message for the day is: Be kind even if you don’t understand what another is going through.

Oh, and be prepared for a kick in the face every so often…

 

Halloween

Tis the season of spooks and sickness bugs, nights drawing in and Halloween.

Hubby is still recovering from the bug that Pudding and I both had so he wasn’t up to coming out with us. It was glorious weather yesterday but sometimes I find it downright scary to take both the boys out by myself. I gritted my teeth and headed off to Lotherton Hall. They always go all out for Halloween there and T was really keen to do the spooky scarecrow trail.

I was all geared up for the more terrifying aspects – stares from other children, chasing Pudding when he makes a bid for freedom, struggling to push the buggy over uneven surfaces, the nightmare of finding a suitable place to change his nappy…

After a morning of losing my temper, shouting and generally being a grumpy Mummy from Hell, I was NOT looking forward to it.

But…

It all went rather well. T was brilliantly helpful pushing the buggy while I chased Pudding, helping me with the lift and generally being patient. We found all the scarecrows. Pudding looked rather fetching in his new hi-vis jacket. I didn’t get any officious persons objecting to us taking the buggy into the house (yes, some people in other places REALLY want to make it difficult). And best of all was the loo!

Normally, I just find a discrete corner out of the way to do a nappy change al fresco – much nicer than lying him down on a toilet floor. But not in this weather. I thought the disabled loo would probably have the best chance of having a large enough, clean enough floor space, so tracked down the key from the cafe.

I opened the door, and was delighted to find a full-sized adult changing bench with hoist above it (not that we need that bit). I simply hadn’t realised that the facilities there were a proper Changing Places toilet – the gold standard for those who can’t use the usual toilet facilities. T didn’t quite share my vocal enthusiasm and chose to wait outside while I changed Pudding in glorious comfort, not having to bend over him on the floor or worry about the hygiene.

Only problem is, I could come to expect this standard, and there simply aren’t enough of them out there….

Service Station

Service stations are so easy, aren’t they? You pull off the motorway, park up, and pop in for a quick loo-stop or a cup of coffee.

Well that’s how it’s supposed to work anyway. But not if you’re in a car by yourself with Pudding. On our frequent trips to Manchester I try my hardest to avoid stopping and usually arrive absolutely bursting for a wee.

On my last trip I decided I couldn’t wait so stopped half-way. As I drove in, I ran through the options in my mind. I could get the buggy out, but that would take a while to unfold and he’d be cross at going from car to buggy and back to car without any freedom. Or I could leave the buggy in the boot and take the risk of going freestyle.

Luckily there was a parent and child space close to the entrance. (Between a couple who had just parked and were sauntering in, and a lady sitting drinking her coffee before pulling away. Don’t get me started on people without children who park in these spaces!). So I decided go for the risky option, and held tightly onto Pudding’s wrist as we crossed the road.

Pudding smiling up at camera before climbing into the car seat.

I played an enthusiastic chase and tickle game to get to the toilet quickly and chose a cubicle at the far end. Pudding wasn’t keen on going in but we squeezed round the door together. He is getting pretty good at undoing bolts but dumping the bag by the door and jamming my foot against it meant I wasn’t exposed to the public while doing my business.

Washing hands while also trying to hold onto a determined escapee is fairly impossible but the minimum requirements of hygiene were achieved by distracting him with the paper towels.

Luckily he didn’t need a nappy change himself as that would be a whole other problem. More service stations are now including Changing Places but they are still few and far between.

And then he was off. In the wrong direction. As usual I tried to make returning to the car sound really exciting. As usual he drew a few stares while lying down on the floor in answer to that.

Next he made a dash into WHSmith and this is where the whole buggy-free risk paid off. He stood in front of the huge cabinet of drinks and said, ‘Oh Wow!’ (For full Pudding-effect, try saying this in a similar voice to Wall-E). He then grabbed a Fruit Shoot and clasped it to his chest, looking at me with that irresistible cheeky smile. I caved and said he could have it.

I couldn’t believe what happened next. He pattered over to the till and waited till the person in front had paid, then handed it up to the lady. Showing not only that he knew we needed to pay for it, but also that he could identify where we had to go. Such a small thing for most children but I was so proud I was ready to burst. The lady serving probably thought I was crazy when I gushed about how wonderful he was. But I don’t care! My Pudding is wonderful and he is progressing in little ways.

Take that, Mucopolysaccharidosis! He is kicking your butt!

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