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Blog and Podcasts about Autism

travel

Family TripOk, so after the fairly successful trip 1 and with the boys birthdays coming we thought we would take another trip but for 2 nights. Increasing the pain perhaps or the excitement, who knows? Planning this trip was a little harder as we knew we were going to have to try and keep it hushed as we were taking the boys to a big UK theme park. We wanted it to be a surprise and again like Family Trip 1, it would be something we could learn from. Boy did we learn from this one. What was meant to be a great family trip, turned into…well, let’s just say the learning curve was steep and the recovery took longer than the trip lasted.

After quite a lot of planning, arranging and organising we were finally ready to hit the road. We explained that the trip would take just as long to get there as the first one, which didn’t bode well for the boys. They both sat next to each other, poised and ready to be easily annoyed by each other at every possible opportunity and were also on point for making sure that we would lose our tempers in record time.

The 5 hour drive was honestly the longest drive every imaginable. Adam had luckily, though, found a great Satnav programme called WAZE. I will talk more about this in Family trip 3, but will say it was a great having it on trip 2 for us. It told us the usual Satnav stuff but with little added bonuses that we collected along the way. But don’t let the Satnav distract you from the chaos that was coming from just behind us.

The barrage of “are we nearly there yet” became a phrase that was driving us both slowly insane. The melody, of it is forever etched in my brain and actually gives me chills even as I type this. The youngest would not relent on asking over and over. Even the eldest was getting so annoyed that he was almost in tears. The youngest just couldn’t help asking. When your child has no concept of time and the clock on the car radio is in a 24 hour mode, it really doesn’t help trying to say “in 2 hours” because he then asks, how many minutes, then how many seconds followed by the same question 30 seconds later. All of this occurring between leaning over and touching/poking his older brother, kicking his dad’s seat as he was driving and wanting to watch Peppa pig over and over was getting to us all. This coupled with the horrible phone signal bombing out the Satnav and the eldest whining about being bored and further questions about “what else can I eat?” from the youngest, the end of my ever shortening tether was in sight. It got to the point that I was considering just turning around and going home and being done with it all. But I had to remember, it isn’t his fault. He just doesn’t get it. We are trying to deal with our own issues, while ensuring, as much as possible, the kids remain unaware of any anxieties over the trip we may be feeling and well… also remember that when you are essentially waiting for something “fun” to happen, everyone can get impatient. So it was deep sighs and lids on our tempers and just “breathe” though it. Find our zen place. Much like child-birth, I knew it would be worth it in the end, but the agony before would/could be almost unbearable.

Once we finally reached to chain hotel, we go in and try to settle in. Turns out the telly in the room tells lies, as it said it had some channels that the youngest would have loved to watch but sadly this day it wasn’t going to work out. It was just another notch on our “trip not going well” tab.

So, we thought since it was late, we would go and get dinner and then come back and finally relax. The restaurant, again, had a great little nook where we were securely have the youngest without the worry of him running off. In fact, his little place was great apart from the poor lighting. He was kept occupied with a cheap little knights and dragons activity pack I brought with us while he was waiting for a rushed order of garlic bread. The eldest was happy with some holiday soda and strategically placed opposite the youngest so that he wouldn’t notice the eggs and gammon that eldest had ordered, as the little one hates and I mean hates the smell of eggs. In fact his sense of smell is quite acute and will of course have meltdowns anywhere at any time when there is a smell he dislikes. As you can see from our trips, we have for the most part been able to avoid meltdowns, but it was all going to catch up to us rather quickly.
We all hate public places at the best of times, but with the children in tow, restaurants are definitely not my favourite place to be. This time would be much like other time before. The youngest was hungry so I ordered several things as he is particular about taste, texture, smells etc, when it comes to his foods. His food came before everyone else’s so of course he was bound to finish before the rest of us, but he was so fast that he finished before ours even came. The youngest then began to getting quite antsy, fidgety and ready to leave before I had even had my first bite. But the lovely daddy came up with a plan; he would scoff his food in record time to take the youngest back to the room so the eldest and I could eat in peace and slowly. But I felt bad and tried to eat fast too. Daddy finished first and rushed off with the little one to give us a little bit of a dinner buffer before the new on slot of requests and demands would commence from the little one.

Back in the room it started again, the youngest doing his usual jumping on the floor and shaking the room, climbing all over the beds and jumping dangerously from one bed to the next and completely paying no attention to repeated demands to stop. His is a clever little thing and is fully aware that when we are not at home, so there is very little recourse for us on the “calm down” space, when we are all trapped in a single room. Our commands to stop the jumping didn’t even register with him so in the end we just stopped asking because he was going to just carry on. At the same time we thought, who puts a family room on the first floor anyway, if there is noise that is just how it is. After a while he calmed down and was ready for his bedtime bath time routine. Again with his toys, his books, his music box and all the things to calm him we all tried to settle in for bed. But we knew that the “RPS”, the youngest’s Random Phrase Selector, would soon make an appearance and we would all be crying in our hired beds with laughter and not sleeping. Eventually after 45 minutes of this we all finally got off to some form of sleep, although it wasn’t for long and certainly not refreshing.

We realised at 5:30am when the youngest woke up wanting to play the DS that there wasn’t a single chance we would actually be able to get back to sleep in spite of our need and wishes to just get 1 full hour, we had to get things sorted out. As it was also the little one’s 6th birthday, we arranged for a small amount of presents to be with us and the rest to be ready to open when he got home. It was a good morning with excitement and boys were ready for their “surprise”, which was the purpose for the trip in the first place. We made the decision that since the night before was a bit of a disaster, the bed was so uncomfortable that there was no way we could or would do it two nights in a room, coupled with the repeated escape attempts of the youngest and the disastrous dinner, we would have no choice but to cancel our second night and just go home after the theme park.

The park itself was great fun for the boys and Daddy. The youngest loved that there was a “sensory” garden and this gave us ideas for home. He loved the sensation of the rides and would have happily stayed on the pirate ship all day had he been able to. He was actually really excellent. He was staying with me, not running away, waiting patiently while Daddy and the eldest went on some big boy rides and I was able to keep him occupied by talking about the flowers and surrounding. A LOT. He wasn’t eating very much at all, in fact he didn’t want anything to eat all day, but I am sure this was down to so much going on. The only major issue we had been on a ride that was indoors and it had music that was ridiculously loud. I am not just talking “normal” loud, but even I was seeing colours with all the sounds so I know it was loud. We actually had to ask the staff to leave the ride because the youngest and I couldn’t take it. I was covering his ears as he yelled and I was struggling myself. But once out, it was fine. But the big highlight of laughter for me was when we were on the “sky ride”. Which are cable car boxes that are high in the air that slowly transports people from one side of the park to the other. I thought it would be nice little break for us all, thinking serenely and just looking down at all the people as we travelled along the cables to the other side. But I was a little wrong. The youngest with his very open and inquisitive mind blurted out in ear shot of all the other riders in our carriage, “mama, if the box falls we will all die, won’t we?” Hahahaha…what do you say to that? After I tried to stifle my smirk and laughter, I explained about the strong cable and then tried to distract him which worked. But I did think it was funny.

After a successful day, we were all physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted and ready for the long 5 hour trip home. Sadly, the trip home was much like the trip there and so we thought…we are not going to be doing this again any time soon. It took us 4-5 days just to recover from it all. As parents we too needed “space” and to be away from everyone, so no visitors, no outings, no plans but being at home. As you can read in Family Trip 3, once you’ve paid for something it isn’t always easy to just cancel it, but this trip taught us somethings and next time we need more preparation and a new plan of action taken. Our highlights were the boys were great in the park, they enjoyed themselves, made some great memories, learned to wait patiently as much as possible, learned to deal more with things they couldn’t control like people or their environments and we all got some great family time in too. New experiences are a great thing, we learn, we grow and we adjust so I for one am all for it.