By The Auntie
I’m learning (slowly).
You may have noticed a recent increase in tension and a feeling of impending doom in your FASD mums and dads. If you haven’t, then they are hiding it very well and not letting on (they do that!) If they tell you that everything is absolutely fine and they are looking forward to the near future, they are lying.
Why? What’s the matter?
They’ve arrived and mums and dads have six long weeks stretched out in front of them with nothing to occupy the little ones and still having to hold down jobs. These kids manage (or not) to hold themselves together whilst at school, but when the holidays descend there is an additional 7 hrs each day that already frazzled parents have to get through.
I have said before that just popping in for coffee can change the atmosphere in a house and can head off an impending meltdown. I’m here to remind you today that you can very much support your FASD family by doing a tiny thing.
Today I took advantage of free child labour and took SuperT to my allotment where he helped me dig potatoes, harvest radishes and beetroot and pick runner beans.
And I’m learning.
I know now that before he can dig potatoes, he has to tie today’s hairpiece just so, or it will get into his eyes.
I know that he is really, really trying to dig the potatoes properly and is not deliberately chopping bits off with the trowel.
I know that the big fork is too big for him to use properly, but using it to check that patch of ground for any potatoes that I missed (without doing any damage) makes him feel like a grown-up, big boy.
I know that I have told him a million times that those particular blackberries belong to someone else, but they are too delicious to resist, so I take him to my friend’s allotment who has a blackberry that I know she won’t mind me raiding, just once.
I know that the watering can is filled so that I can water the lettuce and radish, but actually it’s more fun to water SuperT’s hands.
* * * * *
I love the way that he shouts “POTATO” every time I uncover one, collects it from the ground and (after I told him that throwing them might bruise them) places them very carefully in the bag.
I love the grin on his face when he sees I’ve written “SuperT’s Potato” on a label for the little potato plant he’s put in the ground (I’ve no idea whether it will grow or not, but that’s not the point)
I love the way that he measured the runner beans I have picked against the ones still on the plant to see if it is long enough to pick.
I love the joy in his eyes when he realized that, as we were leaving, I had stopped the car in the track outside the allotments to let him jump out and pick wild blackberries (well they probably belong to someone inside, but outside, I think they are fair game).
I love the fact that I “have the best allotment ever!” And he was, literally, full of beans!
And when I delivered him home, dad was having a much needed doze, mum had been able to get some work done and he was in a much better mood – possibly even avoided a meltdown.
None of which I knew when I collected him. I had just listened when mum and dad had made impending doom noises about the holidays and knew that something little from time to time can make a difference. I was just after some free child labour, but what might have happened is that a possibly dreadful day melted away, rather than melted down.
You CAN do it.
A comment from @FASD_MUM: This post really makes us smile. The day was going nowhere good, fast. The knock on the door was so welcome, and our son so excited to have his time with his auntie. He came home relaxed and proud to show us the runner beans, beetroot and potatoes. It was like night and day, the 90 minutes reprieve helped relax the whole house. The Auntie’s example is a quick trip to her allotment, but it could just as easily have been a walk in the woods, a romp at the playground, tossing a ball back and forth, splashing in puddles, a hot chocolate in a coffee shop. It doesn’t really matter whatever ‘it’ is. Our guy still craves one-on-one attention. And it is lovely to watch their relationship grow a little deeper every time they have these adventures. On behalf of FASD parents everywhere, I urge you to pick up the phone and ask if that little one might like to go for a ______. (You can fill in the blank.)