I’ve been thinking a lot about how best to contribute to the brilliant Define Normal challenge initiated by the author of one of my favourite blogs Just Bring the Chocolate. In many ways our lives with Orange are just like that of any other family with a three year old and a one year old. There is too little sleep and rather a lot of wine and coffee, earsplitting renditions of Baa Baa Pink Sheep, lots of prancing about in fairy costumes, throwing of food and a fair amount of squealing. Laundry. Duplo. Peppa Pig. You know.
In other ways life is very different. Like many families who have a child with special needs our days are filled with physiotherapy, hospital appointments and more than a reasonable amount of worry and stress.
But the Define Normal challenge got me thinking about the funny and unusual aspects of life with Orange. Things I never thought I would do, say, or be involved in.
I am now quite possibly (acrobatics notwithstanding) a world class cheerleader. As is Orange’s sister. You see, Orange needs truck loads of over enthusiastic encouragement and praise when he’s doing something new. Honestly, when he first grabbed a spoon out of my hand and fed himself a mouthful of Pasta Italienne (thanks Hipp) the neighbours must have thought we’d won the lottery.
And I have developed a particularly irritating high-pitched kind of a voice, paired with manically clapping hands and cheesy grin, that get trawled out at least 20 times a day when we have a moment. These moments are typically the sort of things that most children just one day start doing, with absolutely no input at all, like reaching out for a toy, rolling onto their tummies, bearing weight through their legs, saying ‘babbabbababab’, but for Orange have probably taken weeks, if not months, of painstaking daily practice and support.
2) The antidiet
This one isn’t quite so much fun, although has become such a large part of our ‘normal’ that I had to mention it here. Orange is on the small side and, true to family traits, is also allergic to dairy. To keep the scary health-visitor-with-scales wolf from the door I have put Orange on an antidiet. This basically means he eats everything that I shouldn’t. I am carbo-loading him with every meal (insulin makes your body hang on to weight don’t you know), and topping up every dish he is served with an appetising blend of rapeseed oil and olive oil. I double his calorie intake this way. Menu planning for Orange requires a little thought, and with an older child to consider (and my own low calorie needs to consider – got saddlebags to shift dontchaknow), I typically end up cooking 9 different meals per day. Thank goodness for the enormous range cooker I say.
3) Space blankets
Nobody in our house has ever run a marathon, or travelled into outer space, but we have two space blankets in the playroom. They are quite possibly the most popular and well played with items in there. They are brilliant for Orange from a sensory perspective (rustly, tactile, sparkly) but Orange’s sister also likes to make dens with them, that then get taken over by the cats. Meanwhile, boxes and boxes of toys (for children and cats) sit unopened, of course.
So there we have it. ‘Normal’ Chez Orange & Co. Pretty normal I’d say?