“At the Farm”
From the Eyes of Auntie Hannah
Most families can relate to the importance of outdoor time with the kids, if not just for a nice change of scenery, also as an opportunity to let the little ones run off some steam. A two year old boy is, of course, particularly in need of this energetic time and our Eddison is no exception. This makes it especially difficult for my sister (Eddison’s Mummy) and my brother in law (Eddison’s Daddy), who are striving every day to develop and invent new ways to safely provide this for their son. There is no handbook or guide to being a parent of a child with XP, and there is little readily available information that advises parents of the continuous challenges they will undoubtedly face. Even the simplest changes to environment, weather, temperature and humidity make a huge difference to the activities that Eddison is able and free to enjoy. Therefore the job of Mum and Dad is one fraught with worry and a need to be ever alert to the pending risks to Eddison. Despite being increasingly mindful of the limitations faced daily and excellently creative in adapting experiences for Eddison, sometimes, even when the family think they have found a safe bet for him, a place to enjoy out of harm, something happens which threatens this…
Since his diagnosis, Eddison has enjoyed several trips to the local rare breeds’ farm that is situated quite near his home. This is a great day out which is near enough to allow the family to visit with minimal disruptions. Eddison is unable to enjoy other activities that are located further away in fear of being stuck far away from home without safe toilets he can use, safe facilities and even a place he can simply lift his visor to have a drink.
For this reason, the local farm has been a god send. The family have watched in joy as Eddison runs around the enclosures looking into the pens in amazement at the different animals. Togged up with his protective snow suit (not so fun on hot days), visor and gloves, Eddison is free to explore and interact with both the animals and other boys and girls. He is a real animal lover and recently has developed a real affinity for “Cows”….which he says repeatedly as he walks around the animal petting zone. He is gentle and loving to the animals, as he is to his own dog Macy. It gives his Mum and Dad such happiness to watch him experience these visits, oblivious to his condition and not being held back. Although, I know they do feel a little sad that, due to his special protective gloves, he is unable to feel the animals he strokes…especially the fluffy bunnies that he so loves. When Eddison is ready for a little half time refreshment, a spot of lunch and a drink, the family have found that the farm’s brilliant little restaurant is UV safe, rendering this a relatively stress free day for the family… Or so they thought!
In light of those subtle environmental changes I mentioned and how they alter the activities available to Eddison, it seems that as the winter sun sits lower in the sky the restaurant no longer generates a ‘Zero’ reading on the light metre. Sadly this means Eddison cannot remove his visor to have lunch and the facility becomes unusable during these months. On our recent visit, we were disappointed to learn this, however, in a bid to continue our family day out and not allowing it to be ruined, Eddison’s Mummy was forced to think on her feet and hatched an ingenious plan that would allow us to enjoy a safe picnic lunch together. Mummy spied an empty marquee at the far end of the Farm, so she took the light metre to do a few readings. She tied up and opening in the canvas and found that the middle section of the marquee presented a ‘zero’ reading…RESULT!! So we pushed together some hay bales and a wonky chair we found, and ‘Hey Presto’…a quaint little picnic spot fit for all the family to enjoy. Daddy fetched some take-away lunch from the farm restaurant and we were set. Eddison could remove his visor and have a little breather. PERFECT..! Even baby Raife approved, as he smiled and chuckled at Grandad. Sat on bales, surrounded in squelchy mud and the faint whiff of “Cow Poo”, as Eddison would say…but, nothing was going to stop the Miller family from giving their boy a lovely and safe day out.
This little incident made me even more aware of the challenges the family face at every turn and even in situations which have previously been deemed safe, they can never relax. I admire so much the level of thought and creativity that goes into inventing experiences for Eddison and the constant need to be spontaneous and adaptable. This was indeed a day at the farm…but, with a difference…!!!!