When Hannah was learning how to sit independently I had to let go a little, even though I didn’t want her to keep toppling over and risk hurting herself.
When Hannah first learned how to eat, I had to let go a little, even though it used to scare me beyond words when she had a choking episode.
When it was time for her first conductive education session alone, I had to let go a little. Even though I knew she’d be fine.
When I dropped Hannah off for her first day in nursery, I had to let go a little. The prospect of leaving her for several hours in the care of other people made me decidedly anxious.
When Hannah started school, yet again, I was entrusting other people to ensure she was safeguarded from harm and her needs were fully met. I had no other option but to let go a little.
Well, one thing I’ve learned on this parenting journey is that this ‘letting go’ malarkey is HARD.
I mean, REALLY hard.
So, when Hannah was recently given the opportunity to go away for a 2 night adventure with The Legacy Rainbow House, a few of my first thoughts were as follows…
Oh. M. G!
Sedate me. Sedate me NOW! This simply CANNOT happen. EVER. I haven’t been away from her overnight since she was born. Nope, it’s not happening. She’s 5 years old. No one in their right mind would allow their 5 year old child…who is 5 (did I mention that she’s 5?) go away without their parents. How could I possibly let Hannah – who is, by the way, 5 years old AND has disabilities – go somewhere without me, overnight? This is LUDICROUS, nonsensical, utter stupidity. What if she’s ill? What if she doesn’t sleep? What if she doesn’t eat? What if she has an accident? What if she puts something in her mouth that she shouldn’t (as is often the case!), what if she actually misses me for the first time? (erm, well actually, no, sadly that’ll never happen) What if this? What if that? What if the other?
Get me a paper bag, I’m hyperventilating!
But, when I eventually came to my senses (this took a while) and felt able to rationally (well as rational as I’ll ever be) mull the pro’s and con’s over with Hannah’s daddy, we decided to accept the offer.
It was time to let go…again.
And, if I’m perfectly honest, it was a tad scary.
But for my peace of mind, I decided that – at least for this time – we’d have a trial run and try out one night away instead of two. My nervous system probably couldn’t handle two consecutive nights!
So, one Saturday morning recently, we packed Hannah’s (rather large – oops!) bag, left Broccoli HQ and set off to take Hannah to an outdoor education centre situated on the edge of the Lake District where we were greeted by the staff and Hannah’s friends who had been eagerly awaiting her arrival.
Some people wrongly assumed that I’d be beside myself with angst, but I wasn’t. Not in the least. I’d done my homework beforehand, written a risk assessment/care plan comparable to the size of the Encyclopaedia Britannica for the benefit of the people I was entrusting to take care of Hannah – I was educated at the forewarned is forearmed school of life – and therefore hoped that I’d covered all bases.
And strangely enough, that night, I had the best night’s sleep since Hannah was born. Bliss!
So, what did Hannah get up to on her adventure?
She had a go at archery (thankfully no eyes – or lives – were lost in the process) and managed to hit the target!…
She went in a canoe…
Went caving and refused point blank to wear her hard hat (blatantly flouting the Health and Safety requirements – my rebel child!)
Went on a zip wire ALONE…over water!!…Oh, dear Lord Jesus and all the Blessed Saints! She can’t swim! All I can say is that I’m SO glad that I asked the staff NOT to tell me beforehand what activities Hannah would be doing.
And she didn’t manage for the first time EVER to escape out of a harness. Yay!
Made fire and didn’t melt her wellies, or her feet, in the process (thankfully!)
Had lots of cuddles with her friend Danielle, who looked after her.
Spent time with her friends…who, heart-warmingly, accept her just the way she is – even though she can’t communicate and they understand that play with her isn’t always reciprocal.
We collected Hannah in the afternoon of the following day and even though she has no means of communication the smile on her face was a pretty good indication of how she felt about her adventure – plus, she slept in the car the whole way home and then slept soundly throughout the night! Bingo!
So, what would I say to any parents out there whose children are given the opportunity to go on trips like these from The Legacy? Well, I’d say, there are lots of things to consider beforehand.
Would you fret, not sleep or eat, give yourself a migraine, anxiously pace the floor whilst counting the minutes until it’s time to collect your child and drive yourself completely potty for 2 days and nights? If so, then I’d probably suggest you’re not ready. If it’s going to stress you out to that extent, then it’s really not worth it right now, is it?
It’s not for everyone, and I totally get that.
If you’re able to think of it as your child being given the opportunity to participate in some fantastic adventures, spend quality time with friends and use the time as respite for you (and your partner if you have one) then maybe it’s worth considering. Talk to the staff, go take a look at the place, ask questions…tons of questions…express your concerns (if any) and speak to other parents whose children have been on these trips.
And then have a think about it. But it’s YOUR call, no-one else’s.
Ultimately, YOU have to be totally comfortable before making the decision…and if you are, then…
…Just let go a little.
So, that’s all for this post lovely people. But I’ll leave you with this…it’s something that’s baffled me and I’m hoping one, or more, of you out there may be able to enlighten me…
When I mentioned that Hannah would be going on this adventure, a handful of people responded by saying something like “well, it’ll have to happen sometime” or “it’s best she gets used to it now”. I didn’t know how to respond to this (and still don’t), so I just kept schtum. I’m still not entirely sure what it actually means. I asked myself whether I would I say this to a friend that has a child without disabilities? The answer was NO, absolutely not! Why would I? If I suggested to you that this was a supposedly kinder alternative to someone saying “well, you’re gonna kick the bucket at some point Anne, so Hannah may as well get used to staying somewhere else before it happens” would I be right? Or am I being a little over sensitive and going ‘off piste’ with this one? If it is actually a reference to me ‘snuffing it’, then, to be brutally honest, I’d much rather people held their tongue. There’s not much need to state the obvious really, is there?. Oooh, rant alert! Better stop right there before I get into trouble.
Anyway, enlightenment on this would be very much appreciated though.
Right, I’m off. Take care of yourselves.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Until next time,
This post is dedicated to all the amazing staff – especially Danielle – who looked after Hannah over that weekend and, alongside Amy, braced herself to jump into freezing cold water just in case Hannah got out of her harness. Anyone who thinks it’s a doddle taking children away on trips is TOTALLY deluded!
To Louise (again! – blimey, this woman doesn’t half get some mentions on here!) for studying my Encyclopaedia Britannica through several episodes of Coronation Street and Eastenders and giving up her glass of wine…just so I could have one…my heroine!
Thank you to The Legacy for, yet again, giving Hannah some fantastic opportunities. We’re looking forward to the next one.