‘Fail to plan, plan to fail.’ That appears to be today’s motto and it’s one I really must bear in mind more.
Today we went to a tourist attraction local to where we are staying on holiday. We thought Tink would absolutely love it, as there would be penguins. Lots of them. Tink loves penguins. And there was other ocean-related stuff too, to keep H happy. And otters. It has otters!
We had our breakfast, got dressed, made a packed lunch, filled the bag with nappies, drinks and made sure we had the necessary documents as proof of Tink’s disability for the reduced-price entry. We jumped in the car and set off around the coast a little to the next town.
We got there, paid our entry fee and went through, finding ourselves in front of a large viewing window, where a puffin was diving into the water in front of us. “Look, a puffin!” “Puffin!” Tink copied. We walked further and emerged in front of a beach full of penguins! Around a hundred or so, a mix of African and Macaroni flavours. “Penguins!” Tink said, with awe.
Then, one of them honked, or quacked, or whatever it is they do. It’s not a pleasant noise and it’s loud. I’d forgotten they do this. And Tink doesn’t like sudden noises, especially of the animal variety. (Trips to the farm aren’t much fun either!) And Tink’s hands flew to her ears. It’s okay, I thought, I’ll pop her ear defenders on and it will all be fine. “Want Tink’s purples?” I asked her. “Yes pease.” I looked in the bag… They’re not there. Crap. I check all the pockets of Daddy’s very pocket-y bag. Nope. Definitely not there. Then Daddy informs me he remembers seeing them back at the caravan. Great.
After a few minutes of watching penguins diving and swimming, hands firmly clamped over her ears, Tink says, “go back a camping?” (she keeps getting camping and caravan confused!) “Had enough!” My heart sank. I thought she’d love this! All because we forgot to make sure we had everything necessary to combat any anxiety (we even forgot to bring a dummy – a total rookie mistake. We’ve been packing those for four years!)
We persevered, and the hands did gradually come off the ears, occasionally going back up whenever we went into a new part or there was something she wasn’t sure about. She liked watching the seal diving and jumping, but wasn’t keen on the mangrove swamp area, which was dark and had strange mangrove noises playing. I haven’t seen her that anxious in quite a while, walking with her head down, middle fingers and thumbs tapping each other in a stim, clinging on to Daddy when she really needed to. Again she asked, “go back a camping?”
I felt so disappointed, and cross with myself for not checking we had the ear defenders with us. But, on reflection, I guess it may not even have mattered. She may still have been as anxious with them as without. And I think that’s what I’m still struggling with; the fact that our world has now become unpredictable. And I don’t like unpredictable! And neither does Tink, only I’m old enough to have coping strategies and need to learn to relax more! I can’t second guess how she will react to a new situation; some things I worry she’ll hate she is fine with, and the things I think she’ll love seem to be the things she struggles with! I just need to learn to be prepared and go with the flow.
So lessons learned from today: start learning to embrace the unpredictable! And always, always check the bag for ‘purples’ and dummies!