Half term happened last week, and as has been my school holiday routine for the past 18 months, I loaded the car with three kids, one dog, lots of walking boots, coats and other paraphernalia and headed north to see my crazy mum and my exhausted dad.
As is also pretty typical of these journeys, the packing of the car was exhausting and stressful as I refereed my three kids, packed bags, attempted to get the dog out for a quick walk before we set off and tidied the house a little so that Hubby’s already strong belief that I am am annoyingly messy, was not exacerbated.
We turned out our road, literally a few hundred yards away from the house and my youngest daughter piped up, “I need a poo poo!”
It sometimes amazes me how I am still sane!
We stopped a few miles up the road at the first garage we came to after Mabel squealed and protested constantly about her need to poo. Needless to say, once we actually made it to the loo, she smiled at me with her pretty smile and stated, quite brazenly, “No poo poo.”
Give me strength!
We arrived in Scotland at my parents’ house about 3 1/2 hours later. Dad was pleased to see us, Mum didn’t seem to register the arrival of new people in the house. I suppose, she sees new people around the house quite frequently, both real (the nurses and social workers who come to see her) and imagined, so four more noisy folk were not a huge surprise.
My delightful rabble and I spent four days with my parents. The trip also shed light on my littlest daughter’s constant need for the toilet.
The elder two were not impressed that they too needed to take the pretty hideous medicine, whereas I thought it was quite a novelty and downed my 5ml of banana syrup quite happily. I can’t actually think about the Threadworm thing too deeply, it’s altogether a bit too disturbing. So is the fact she needed re-treating earlier this week after her symptoms returned. Yet again my elder two were bribed with chocolate before they would entertain drinking the banana potion again. Hubby has not yet has his dose, hmmmmm – I must remind him tonight!
All in all, we had a nice half term. We had a couple of lovely days out and Mum was if not completely “present” then at least fairly easy to manage. I use the term “easy” loosely. Easy is helping her with her shoes, then turning to help my youngest get her boots on the right feet, only to turn back again and find my mother removing her shoes again.
Easy is trying to help my mother remove her coat, by unzipping it and chatting away to try and ease her confusion as she tries very forcefully to zip it back up again, all the while looking at me like I am assaulting her.
Easy is spending half an hour with my mother in a lovely cafe, (while my kids were running around a play area with my father) and trying to chat to her, take a selfie (“look at those women there, what are they doing?” she said, pointing to the image of me and her in my camera phone screen) and keep her safe from wandering off around the very large country store.
Easy is encouraging her to take her tablets, which she simply doesn’t understand. At times, they are placed on her tongue as a last resort and she either chews them (ugh) or they stay on her tongue, despite us asking her to drink what seems like litres of water to get rid of it!
Easy is listening to her scoff my daughter, her granddaughter Martha, who was giving her granny a cuddle and declaring, “I love you, Granny!” Watching my mother’s indifferent face and her scathing words about how “this child was told to say that”, was a particular low point.
The high point was literally seconds later as she looked at Archie, who’s curly hair was, I admit, slightly messy and asked him, “have you had your rollers in?”
I fell about laughing, at both my mother’s innocent and genuine question and my son’s confused expression. Having no idea what “rollers” are, his face was a picture.
The best day we had was at Dalkeith Country Park; a superb day out for anyone near Edinburgh. Beautiful walks, the best children’s play area and fort EVER and a cafe and shops selling locally sourced produce. It was delightful.
Mum struggles now with many basics and so my father helped her to the bathroom after our lunch. She came out the disabled toilet with her jumper and coat tucked into her elastic-waisted, front -pleated trousers, and despite my efforts she would not let me help her un-tuck herself. Indeed, she was very physical and strong at getting my hands off her. I gave up and reasoned that it didn’t matter. What if people stared? What if people thought she looked odd. She did. She looked decidedly “special” and her high-waisted bulky outline, along with her vacant gaze, unkempt hair and unabashed way of staring at anyone and everyone made for an interesting outing.
“He’s coming for you!” she smirked as she pointed at an old, hessian-wearing elderly man with a long white beard, who resembled a Celtic Santa and who was walking towards us as we waited in the cafe for my dad and the kids to return from the play area. Mum glared at him as he walked past our table and joined the queue for coffee and cake.
A child with worms (twice!) and old enough to be married to an ancient Celtic Santa, apparently.
We often say we are going to have an ‘easy day’ perhaps it’s going to gain currency for all who have dementia in their lives.
Sarah, though this disease is not funny by any means, there are times we have to laugh, otherwise we’d go insane! I’m glad you were able to laugh at the “rollers in the hair” comment about your son 🙂 I had to laugh when I read your comment about you helping your mum put on her boots, only to turn around and have her take them back off. I can’t tell you how many times I have helped my mom with her coat (putting on and zipping) or her gloves, or her socks and shoes . . . to have her just take them back off. It’s so frustrating, but I think if we don’t try to find some humor in these moments, we will drive ourselves completely insane. Keep your head up and hugs to you!!!