A nice family weekend. Or is it?

I’ve spent most of this sunny weekend pushing an all too familiar feeling to the pit of my stomach, where I can almost pretend it isn’t there. But not quite…

It’s hot. Bloody hot. And whilst the rest of the world may laugh at us Britts (understandably), we just aren’t used to this weather. Especially kiddo. Kiddo has never been one for heat. He prefers the cooler side of life. He didn’t even want to wear a coat when the Beast from the East hit earlier this year. So when the hot weather approached our British shores this summer, kiddo quite literally didn’t know what to do with himself.

Suffering from very complex sensory processing disorder, his body picks up on changes in weather and pressure at least 24 hours before it arrives. He becomes distressed and violent. He keeps himself in his room with a few select toys and emerses himself in his iPad. The real world is too much to tolerate, too much to take in. He struggles to regulate his brain as well as his body temperature. His sleep reduces even more than usual and his fractious behaviour is unpredictable and most of the time, completely unmanageable. So you can imagine that while most of the UK was worshipping the recent heatwave, I was wondering how on earth we as a family were going to survive it. So here’s what we did.

This weekend saw the Met Office issue a weather warning for heatwave conditions across the country. We often head out as a family on the weekend. Maybe meet some friends if we are able to find a wide open space for kiddo to be alone in if he wants. But there was no chance of that this weekend. The beaches and country parks would be packed. The splash parks would be a sea of people. Anywhere that was outside with a possibility of shade or water would have been insanely busy, and kiddo was already suffering from an episode of sky high anxiety. If we wanted to survive the weekend we were going to have to stay at home.

At first I didn’t mind this idea. We would get the paddling pool out and play with kiddo’s trains in the shade. We had his new play house and we could chill just the three of us. It would be amazing.

But as I sat on the Sunday, listening to the hustle and bustle of neighbours having BBQs, groups of children giggling as they played at each other’s houses, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the feeling I had been ignoring all weekend. Was this really our choice? To stay in the safety net of our garden and ignore the outside world? To have a weekend of isolation disguised as a “family weekend”? I began to doubt our decision.

I felt lonely. Really lonely at times. We are sociable people, kiddo’s dad and I. As a child I grew up going to World Cup BBQs and lazing the day away in our friends gardens. Playing tennis on the lawn and eating pudding under the trees. I miss it. I really do. Am I selfish to mourn for what I can no longer have? I think I am a bit actually.

It’s ok for feel sad. You want the same things for your child that you had (mostly). But I am forgetting to ask myself the most important question of all. Does he want that? No. No he doesn’t. He wants to feel safe in his back garden, enjoy the time with his parents and relax after a hard week of enduring school and using every ounce of energy he has to cope around groups of people. He needs a nice family weekend. Me? Maybe I need something different. But this weekend was not the time for me to have it.

Next week I will meet with friends and enjoy company. I can see their children if not in school. I can engage with the outside world as I please. But my responsibility this weekend is to my son. To give him what he needs to survive this weather and to help him find the same enjoyment that the children over the fence have. And as I watched him giggling in the paddling pool, I realised we had done just that.

My weekend in isolation is his idea of a little bit of heaven, before he is forced to comply with the world’s social expectations on Monday. So glad you enjoyed it kiddo…

Thanks for reading,

Danielle

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