One of the true joys of living a simply tangled life is that the small achievements and successes that pass many people by as ordinary are glowing with wonderment and shine on for days, weeks and months after the event.
A little example: On the 15th December 2001, my wonderful little girl was born. It was lovely, but not the highlight of my day (shock horror, I am a self confessed mother who does not class the birth of my children as “top 3” moments…). No. The highlight came a few hours later. Ensconsed comfortably at home on my sofa with my new born baby dozing in her car seat, my little boy Zack came in to the room freshly woken from his nap. He was ten days short of his second birthday.
He stopped upon seeing his new baby sister, looked at her with a substantial degree of caution, then came to me and sat on my lap. He then gave me a hug.
My highlight of the 15th December 2001.
It was the first time that Zack had, of his own accord, come to me and given me a hug. It lasted a marvellous age of two minutes and I will never forget it.
True, true joy.
On Wednesday this week I experienced a wonderful day during which many little things could have become wrapped up in a tangle of annoyance and frustration, yet none did. It was a magical, simple day.
The plan for the day was fairly simple: a feeding therapy appointment at GOSH.
First hurdle was to achieve a relative stage of calm and a plan for Kesia. She becomes overwhelmed by the smells, noises and people in London, and finds the train journey very worrying due to those same reasons. Luckily, we had just received her new ear defenders and focussed on dulling at least one of her senses! Armed with some protection and a good deal of courage, the first hurdle was beautifully overcome by my warrior princess.
Little (well, huge) tangle appeared at 10am, about half an hour before I had planned to leave. I realised that I had completely forgotten to phone the railway company to request a ramp for Tom to access the train in his power chair. Now admittedly, I could have taken his manual chair which I can easily lift into the train, but Tom is a far more pleasant travel companion when in his power chair. He is more independent, calmer, more in control and generally far nicer and happier!
With no real expectations, I called the special assistance phone line for our local operator, Southern. I am very fortunate in that I have little but praise for their service thus far. I know others have had terrible problems getting help from their rail operators, as a fellow mum describes in her blog Just Bring the Chocolate. But the reality is that the rail operators only “guarantee” assistance if it is booked at least 24 hours in advance. Which is all fine and good, but does limit your ability to travel on a whim.
On a whim, or when Mum’s organisational skills have abandoned her completely!
So brazenly, I phoned lovely rail assistance, asking for a ramp to be provided half an hour from now.
Imagine my wonder, my joy and my gratitude when the lovely gentleman on the other end of the phone assured me that he would place the call immediately to the station and I could get my boy in his machine and power on out of the house! I must try to find out his name – that simple courtesy escaped me at the time (and once more later in the day… oh the manners they do need mending!).
So at half past ten, we already have some tangles simply and beautifully untangled and I am enjoying my metaphorical balls of beautiful yarn wound neatly and happily.
The train itself was miraculously empty, we were not only able to get on the train but actually caught an earlier one, allowing me to relax and even read my book! More joy!
I’m giggling as I remember the little hitch in my otherwise rather perfect day: upon arrival at Waterloo station we headed to McDonalds. It is a usual haunt as the fries are one of the few foods that Tom eats well and willingly. I usually ask for a happy meal with two portions of fries and no burger – no waste and he gets a toy same as his sister. I have to say that I was not impressed when the lad serving me told me that he had just been reprimanded by the manager for substituting fries for a burger. “We don’t do that”. In my experience in the UK and France, although I sometimes get some strange looks, I have never been told that this is not possible. What does make me smile (instead of raise hellfire and complain formally) is that the manager failed to realise that he was making a bigger profit on my transaction than on any other happy meal. Unless I’m much mistaken, a portion of fries costs less than a burger, and I paid the normal price of a happy meal. Silly man.
Scolding and double fries in hand, we moved on to the bus stop. Another silly man (bus driver this time) decided that it was too much hassle to put down the ramp and simply drove away from me – having made eye contact with me… But I was still floating on the high of my beautiful untangled day, and enjoyed the fact that there are at least 4 buses every five minutes available to me, and that my earlier train meant that we had gallons of time to spare. A little bus ride and a short walk later, we were comfortably and happily sat in Coram’s Fields enjoying our lunch!
A little aside… I discovered Coram’s Fields a few years ago when Tom was in GOSH and rather poorly. I believe it was a nurse who told me of this lovely playground minutes away from the hospital. The lovely thing about this playground is that adults are not allowed in without a child. The resulting atmosphere is an oasis of calm and security in the middle of a very busy city. We had a giggle, some play and enjoyed lunch in the sunshine… a true highlight moment.
Both Kesia and Tom coped admirably well during our appointment – playing nicely in the playroom while I had my part of the chat with Mr E (see this post). The rather splendid Mr E then authoritatively told me to stay put in a nice quiet room while he went to work with Tom. Words rather fail to express how proud I was of Kesia for managing to stay in the playroom and not coming looking for me – those fifteen minutes did me a power of good!
Our return trip was equally uneventful! Oh me, oh my! A brief stop at Cafe Nero for a soy latte for me and baby chinos for the children, which Tom finished. Another little moment of true joy, because he also ate half an ice cream. I am so proud of him, because he worked really hard with Mr E, and gave the impression that he had understood he needed to “eat a little bit more by my mouth”. But for words to be put into action so soon after the appointment was a massive milestone for me.
I have a wonderful finish to my simple, untangled day. We arrived at Waterloo and got ready to get on the train. I usually manage to find a station guard’s attention to get a ramp, though they can be a little sulky if they were not expecting me. This time, there was no-one in sight. I was not really worried: I’m quite happy to stop the train leaving on time if need be 🙂 .
To my astonishment and utter delight, a guard coming off duty took the time to ask me how he could help, put his bag down to unlock a ramp and made sure we were safely on board the train before moving on with his day. Lovely, lovely man, who more than made up for the two silly ones earlier in the day. His colleague, the guard on our train was equally kind and caring. Tom was delighted when the guard made an announcement just for him – just announcing our station because he did explain that he is not allowed to tell jokes over the intercom, but Tom was thrilled.
Sometimes, the little things go right.
And when they do,life just buzzes with joy.