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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

London versus Aspergers

Just back from a trip to London to see some old friends, some sights and have some family time.
Was proud of Ethan - it's not easy for him to be around loads of people and noise and chaos all the time (which is pretty much how it was for 3 days) as well as spending a day touring from one house and family to the next for around 12 hours straight. It was fab to see people again, but I was shattered, so he must have have been doubly so. And then, just to finish our trip off in a calm relaxed fashion (!), we went into London for the last day of our tour of the south...It seemed too good a chance to miss not to take our eldest son, Sam, around the dinosaur exhibition at the Natural History Museum. But, it being the first day of half-term, the place was heaving. We queued for almost 90 minutes to get in (and exhausted I-spy options, ate all our supplies and negotiated 2x toilet emergencies for our two youngest children while we waited). This came after catching a train and tube with 3x small children and a pram to get to the museum in the first place. Once in, we battled crowds, tripped people up with the pram, shouted for our kids not to run off (in increasingly sharper tones as the day went on), queued for the toilets twice, paid about a million pounds for a cup of tea and ham sandwich (that all the kids shared - how extravagant), dealt with a meltdown from our middle child because he couldn't buy two rubber dinosaurs (that he already had at home), etc...etc...
The museum was amazing, the dinosaurs were wondrous for our 4-year-old. But, blimey, it was exhausting. And at the end of it all, we had to get a tube and train back to our car in rush hour with no seats anywhere and 3 tired but wired kids (and tried to ignore the glares from fellow travellers who seemed to disapprove of us bringing kids onto their commuter train when they wanted quiet and calm in which to read their Evening Standards). Once we did finally reach the hallowed ground on which our car was parked, Ethan had to drive 200-odd miles home.
Through it all, Ethan only once or twice snapped at the kids, he was friendly and conversational with everyone we met up with, and he rarely moaned.
I think he was trying really, really hard. And the action is infectious. When he tries hard, it makes me want to try hard back. And life becomes so much nicer, and easier. And, whereas on days when he is gloomy and over-tired and giving into his natural instincts and making me feel that we just can't possibly have a future together, on the days he works at it, things seem really hopeful. We start to appreciate each other again. And I feel like we will make it.
I know it's impossible for Ethan to keep up the effort all the time and go against his natural instincts for negativity and zoning out and escaping and giving into irritation, but it's nice to know that he can do it. And that, when it really counts, he will. We just need to learn how, together, to keep that side of Ethan around more often and for longer periods of time, without it completely draining him.
Am reading a fab book at the moment Alone Together by Katrin Bentley. Her opening The Cactus and the
Rose resonated so much - both for me and my husband (but particularly for me). It's really helpful to me just to know that other people are going through the same issues and struggles - and finding ways to make life work with Aspergers in the relationship.

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