Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Old MacDonald Had a Farm

After an exhausting day spent travelling, Little A slept long and deeply. He made up for it once he woke though. Before breakfast, he went exploring the grounds to see a horse he saw stabled in the field that comprised a portion of the enormous "backyard".

Once he'd eaten, he and two other children went on a tour with our host, our Au Pairs and myself. (The parents of the two other kids preferred to stay in bed.) We saw the horses, the cow, the Billy Goats Gruff trip trapping in their elevated hut, a rabbit and, finally, the peacocks. There was also a tractor that Little A was thrilled to pretend to drive, and a playground that the children of the farm still enjoyed. Most enjoyable was a Shetland Sheepdog that accompanied Little A everywhere he went. They were fast friends right up until our departure.

After lunch, the adults in the house wanted a rest, so the Au Pair and I tried to keep Little A from being a disturbance. This involved further exploration of areas already discovered, and much time spent in front of the peacock enclosure. In the evening, he was restless as there wasn't anywhere to go in the dark. This probably explained the 430am wakeup on Sunday morning.

Sunday mornings meant worship service for the people on the farm, so those of us who didn't attend had to make our own breakfasts - a delight in the amply stocked kitchen. Once we'd eaten and the service was over, the children and mothers went off to a nearby amusement park. Little A was cranky, having woken up very early, and didn't want to do much but go home. He threw a tantrum midway through the excursion and fell asleep on the bumpy track back to the farm as we raced to get to the airport in time for our flight home, which was, thankfully, uneventful and better than the flight over in that Little A spent far less time crying, since he already knew what to expect.

Big A picked us up at the airport, having spent a very busy weekend himself. We were glad to be home again.

On a Jet Plane

Last weekend, we flew south to visit a friend's farm. She had been inviting us for over five years, but this was the first time we made definite plans to travel there. I bought our plane tickets in March for a really good rate.

Come Trip Week though, Big A was swamped with work. He now has two jobs, and manages to juggle both but has little time to rest and relax. He was incredibly disappointed at not being able to join us, and we were just as unhappy that he was missing the trip.

It was Little A's first airplane ride in two years, and we weren't sure how he'd deal with it. At the airport's check-in queue, I was glad the Au Pair was there to keep him busy (i.e. chase him all over the the place) while I stood in line for nearly an hour. As it was a domestic flight, there was no immigration queue to get through, thankfully, and we proceeded to the departure area, where we soon discovered our flight would be delayed.

Little A kept himself occupied by watching planes through the glass windows, running up and down a non-working travelator several times and then sitting down with us for a snack (thanks to the iPad) before we boarded an hour behind schedule.

Walking down the tunnel into the plane, he was happy, but when we got to the end and he realised we would be getting into the plane, he freaked out. Crying, shouting, reaching for the door and trying to run away, we held him in and tried vainly to calm him down. He looked around, and I imagined he wondered where his dad was and why he wasn't with us. He sat crying and fussing in my lap, and we went through another bout of shouting and screaming when I put his seat belt on.

Thankfully, he calmed down after about 15 minutes, just as we were taxi-ing for takeoff. He was calm for the rest of the flight and happy to look out the window. As we landed, the lady seated in front of us told me that she had an autistic grandson very much like Little A. She was incredibly understanding, for which I was very grateful, since he had been kicking her seat for a portion of the flight.

After the hour and a half-long flight came another hour and a half's journey, in a large 4 x 4 over mostly dirt roads to the farm. It was a bumpy ride, but Little was so exhausted after the tension of the flight that he fell asleep shortly into the ride and woke up when the jolts got too much for him.

We arrived at the farm at dinnertime, and I alternated between unpacking (5mins) and trying to get him settled (about 2 hours). He wasn't interested in playing with the bigger girls in the playroom, and couldn't really explore the enormous backyard as it was dark. A swing on the porch kept him quiet, and he managed to eat a few bites of dinner before being forced into his room with some toys. After a long shower, the Au Pair managed to get him into bed. I had dinner with the adults (children ate in the kitchen and the teenagers at a separate table) and excused myself when they started to chat and drink after the meal. Once Little A was asleep, I showered and joined him in bed.

Farm adventure, up next.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Age of Aqua-rius

Summer is nearly gone, unbelievably. Last week it started to rain sporadically, after a solid month of searing sunshine. In another month, monsoon season arrives, and Little A goes back to school.

This weekend, we are set to go on the first of two mini-breaks. This will be a trip to a friend's farm in the south. She's been inviting us since before Little A came along, but we've only taken her up on the offer this year. I've seen photos of the gorgeous, sprawling, ranch-style hacienda complete with horses, organically grown fruits, vegetables and coffee. The latter three are how they make a living - exporting to the Asian region, particularly Japan.

As the summer has gone, in between therapy sessions, Little A has been swimming. Every day, sometimes twice a day. In the beginning, Big A or I would get into the pool with him, but lately he's been swimming on his own. In a month he's gone from doggy paddling the entire 25 metre length of the pool to teaching himself a version of the backstroke (2 days), how to float, and learning to hold his breath underwater. Recently he's been swimming a nearly proper stroke, without having had a single lesson. A session involves several lengths followed by a run around the pool, like a triathlete-in-training.

Big A says that what Little A has done on his own is amazing. As I am strictly a land creature, I agree wholeheartedly, and imagine it must be akin to learning how to do simple barre exercises corrrectly by simply watching and experimenting. We know our little boy achieves a great deal when he is motivated. Now to find a way to apply this motivation to speech.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Day at the Museum

In spite of the summer holidays, Little A has a full schedule. 4 or more hours of therapy each day (except Sundays) and swimming in the afternoons keep him occupied. His cousins, too, are involved in all sorts of summer workshops, music lessons and the like.

On Labour Day there was no work for anyone. We thought this would be the perfect time to visit the new museum that opened down the road recently. Little A, his cousins and my parents made a day out of it.

The last time Little A was at a museum with a large group, he hated it. He cried and tried to escape, and didn't want to try anything unless he was made to. He enjoys wandering when we go on our own, but tends to react badly to crowds. I worried he wouldn't be able to handle the group introduction that was "required" at the start of each visit.

To my surprise, he was great. After initial reluctance, he sat in a chair near the group and listened to the opening spiel. When the group was led to the first gallery and given another speech, instead of wandering into the exhibit area on the other side he simply peeked over then stood in a corner carefully, as if trying to tell me, "We're not meant to go there yet, Mum."

Once we were set loose to explore on our own, he tried many of the manipulative exhibits. He let other kids take turns and waited for another round if he liked them, or simply looked and walked past if he didn't. All in all, it was a good day out. When we sat to eat at the rather sad museum cafe after the tour, he kept running back to his favourite exhibits outside after his quick snack.

The only thing we didn't get to enjoy was the playground trip at the end, as it started to rain. With the museum being so nearby though, we can go again another time. Hopefully Little A will enjoy the trip even more the next time around.