Well we’ve just about survived the rest of half term. On the whole Toby has done really well however he is more than ready for everything to return to ‘normal’ tomorrow.

One thing that we try to squeeze in to holidays is appointments. We do this so as not to disrupt his routine by missing school during term time; this is not always possible but on the whole it works. So this week we’ve visited wheelchair services and a special needs dentist.

Toby is physically capable of walking…however he doesn’t walk as mentally and emotionally he really struggles. We were out yesterday with some friends exploring the ruins of a local abbey and Toby managed a to climb on a few stones but after five minutes he needed his pushchair as he needed the safety and security as he feels much safer observing from there rather than joining in with everyone else. By the age of four and a half most other children Toby’s age are well out of pushchairs and are confident being outdoors with supervision and although Toby just about fits in his pushchair we decided it was time to bite the bullet and visit wheelchair services.

I’ve had lots of pushchairs and slings for the boys (far too many to count) as different ages and stages have required different transport combinations –  Ted in a sling, Toby in a single pushchair,  both of them in double pushchair, both of them in slings, Toby in a single pushchair and Teddy waking etc. I’m also the type of person that does ALOT of research before making a large purchase such as a pushchair. I remember spending hours and hours trying to work out what would be the best double pushchair for us when I was pregnant with Ted – it had to be a tandem (one behind the other) pushchair as Toby wouldn’t have coped with a screaming baby next to him in a side by side pushchair. I read reviews, watched videos of people folding and unfolding pushchairs and fitting them in car boots, I test drove a few different models around mothercare and browsed various websites. I wanted the best practically and the best looking. I eventually decided on a Phil and Ted’s navigator which has since been on many adventures with us.
It met all of my criteria and also looked good – winner. However now Toby has nearly outgrown this and so practicaly needed something which is designed and made for older children.

One of the reasons that I had been avoiding wheelchair services up until now was because I knew exactly what we were going to get from them. Don’t get me wrong I am very thankful to the NHS for providing equipement and services but in Durham there is one make of pushchair, one model, one style and to be quite honest it’s pretty ugly.

I’m going to hold my hands up here and say I like my boys to look good. I really enjoy shopping for them and dressing them. I like them to wear nice clothing. I like shopping online and finding new styles and brands. Toby however ruins clothes. I’m not talking about getting mucky (my boys are dirty most of the time…!) he literally bites holes in all of his clothing. Toby has many sensory needs and chews constantly. He’s not overly fussed on sensory toys and chews but he prefers material – soft toys, blankets and clothing. Clothing doesn’t last him very long at all, he chews holes in sleeves, bites the zip teeth off coats and jackets, destroys scarves and snoods and disfigures necklines. He needs to chew and sometimes clothes are the nearest and easiest thing for him. Clothes rarely last long enough to be outgrown by him (never mind handed down to Ted!) and finding Toby friendly clothing is a challenge! It needs to be fairly good quality to survive his intensive chewing – cheap clothing doesn’t last two minutes however it can be expensive keeping up with his chewing habits. But at the end of the day it’s just material…thinking about this I was reminded what Jesus said in the Bible –

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6v25-34

And although the passage is talking about not worrying it also highlights what’s important and maybe I’ve put too much value on some of these ‘things’ (clothes, accessories, pushchairs…etc!) when there are far greater things to value. ‘Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?’

Well this pushchair from wheelchair services looks anything but good. However it is better for this season. It folds down smaller, it fits Toby better and it’s better for us for transporting him around. It’s not what I would have chosen but it’s what’s best for him. And actually maybe it does not matter what it looks like….We live in a society that puts a huge amount of emphasis on what things look like. Special needs often doesn’t look good. But I love and value a little boy who couldn’t care less what things look like. He knows what’s important to him and that’s to feel safe and secure – hence the massive pushchair and chewed clothing. He has no awareness of what other people think and maybe I could learn a few lessons from him!

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