There is a definite feeling of Spring in the air the last few weeks. Here the first nice day was greeted with a picnic lunch on the front lawn. Not sure of the wisdom of top removal in February but I’m not 6!
It also motivated me to start tidying out my craft and toy cupboard and Sam’s room – note the word start, it is now all in a bit of a mess! The boys had fun with some long lost toys though.
I’ll admit he does look rather bored but he got it out and played it off his own bat, I only asked him to do it once more so I could video it! There has also been lots of jigsaw doing.
The appearance of the sun coming out has made me realise how much worse Jack’s dog phobia has got and how difficult it makes things. He’s always been slightly nervous but was fine when he was really young, wouldn’t court their attention but wouldn’t run away. My dad had greyhounds until he was 2 or 3 and he was perfectly fine with them. Then one day a neighbours bloodhound jumped at him and knocked him over. Bare in mind he was 4 and this thing was big enough for him to have rode it. After that he would get out of the way whenever a dog was near him. Then one day a couple of years after, when he was playing outside on the front lawn while I was getting ready to go out, another neighbours dog got out of their garden and chased him into our house and jumped on him. After that he was always alert when there was a dog nearby, watching it out of the corner of his eye.
About 18months ago we had a bad experience where we were in some nearby woodland and a boxer puppy ran up and jumped at me and while I was playing with it, Jack popped out of the woods, saw the dog and ran. The dog, thinking he was playing, gave chase. By the time the owner and I caught up an hysterical Jack was in a ditch with the dog on top of him licking his face. An apologetic owner removed the dog and headed back to the field while the boys and I went back through the woods. But he obviously let it go when he got back to the field and it came straight back to us, and managed to knock both boys flying into a bank of nettles! From then on Jack started to actively want to avoid anywhere with dogs off the leads, I would insist we cross the recreation ground (quickest way to village/scout hut/library – anywhere really!) but harder to do things like the beach which are supposed to be fun, when they are not fun because he is stressed and constantly looking for dogs. Crossing the recreation ground he would be very jumpy, eyes everywhere, but the way they should be, darting here and there to make sure you were between him and any dog, close to tears if a dog came 50 yards away… All in all not pleasant walks!
Then last Autumn (my patience used to get quite thin) we had a serious chat about it and he agreed he was being silly, that nothing bad had happened to him and even that boxer dog was friendly and his fear would not help anything, turning and running was the worst thing to do. He agreed to try and relax. And would you believe it that very night, crossing the field in the dark , another dog came jumping at them with an owner that made not the slightest move to stop it even when both boys were hysterical. It later turned out that the dog had snatched Sam’s favourite ball – one I won on Llandudno pier -out of his hand and that was why Sam was hysterical!
Since then he is in tears if you suggest walking over the recreation ground and refuses to go anywhere unless he knows there will be no dogs. He is okay if they are on a lead but if he has the slightest doubt that there will be a dog off a lead he digs his heals in. Sam has also picked up on it and is jumpy around dogs (not helped by the loss of his ball).
It is incredibly difficult and is definitely having a marked impact on all our moods as we are not getting out and about anywhere near enough and we’re all more stressed and snappy. We have the recreation grounds with playground, tennis courts (where we played a lot before things got this bad) and plenty of space to run around, 1 min from back gate. The beach is 5 mins walk away at the bottom of the road. There is a lovely area of shrubland where we go brambling 10 mins walk away and a nature reserve 20 mins walk away. But he won’t go to any of them. There is no re-energising and enjoyment in wandering the same routes through housing estates!
It is also having an impact on our social life as it is difficult to meet up with others. So much of home ed happens out of doors. The local group is setting up a ‘nature’ meet, I’d love to take them, as once upon a time it was exactly their sort of thing (i.e somewhere Jack could climb trees). But Jack looked so petrified when I suggested it that I just don’t think it’s feasible 🙁
I need to help him start to get over this otherwise I’m going to end up going slowly insane. But I have absolutely no idea how 🙁
An occasional option for outdoor play space though presented itself to me the other day, I’d had my passport interview in Portsmouth early in the morning and instead of heading straight home we nipped into the Dockyard (have a pass) and spent an hour playing on the deck of a deserted HMS Warrior (actually they played and I sat on the floor reading my Kindle!).