So the big question on everyone’s lips at the moment is ‘What are you doing at the weekend?’
For months the big Jubilee weekend has been looming and now it is nearly here. The children are all having jubilee street parties at school, the bread, Marmite, packs of herbs and numerous other food and healthcare packaging is adorned with union flags, red, white and blue and pictures of the queen.
I can’t help feeling its a bit like Christmas and New Year. There are all sorts of plans, celebrations, parties and events and the talk is all geared around what people are doing. There is that feeling of social pressure that expects that we all should be doing something, and if we’re not then there’s the unasked question of ‘why not’ or the feeling of rejection or failure.
Even for those who are not Royalists, or are just not bothered by all the fuss there is the prospect of the extra bank holiday.
So, ‘What are we doing?’. The answer is ‘I don’t really know’. I’m not a Royalist, but neither am I an ardent republican, I can quite happily sit on the fence with this one and enjoy the status quo. My attitude to this weekend has been largely based on the idea of ‘great an extra day of holiday’ and an excuse for a bit of a party and ‘feel good factor’.
My Mum likes the Royal family, again she’s not really a royalist, but likes the history and culture of it. She can remember watching the coronation. It was the first time she had seen a television. A few months ago she and I talked about possibly taking the children into town to see the river pageant. We thought it would be an experience to be part of history. So we idly planned and vaguely assumed that’s what we’d do.
Back in February we also got a letter from school inviting us to a ‘big lunch‘ picnic being organised by school, the church, local scouts etc. the event was to be free, but ticket only. Now back in February I couldn’t quite get my head around applying for tickets to a picnic and I knew we had the idea of going into town, so I left it.
Another option we vaguely considered was to go away for the weekend. We took advantage of the extra holiday last year when Prince William got married and took the children to Wales and climbed Mount Snowdon. But this time we discounted the idea of going away, largely because B is away on his school trip this week. We felt that after a week away with school friends doing lots of different activities in a strange environment he would probably need some time to calm down and recover. All of us need that bit of space, but I think it is more important for children with aspergers. We just felt going away again would be a step too far for B, which would probably impact on the rest of us, so we’re definitely staying home.
Option No. 4 crossed my mind back in March. Why not get together with the neighbours and organise a street party. We have some great neighbours and are good friends with quite a lot of them. Many of us have children of similar ages, so I thought it could be fun. I contacted about 6 of our closest neighbours to see if anyone else was interested in helping to organise it. The response I got was a fairly loud silence followed by a couple of ‘Ooh I don’t know what our plans are yet!’ OK, so no street party.
Back to the picnic or going into town. For those of you who live in our beautiful country you will know that a large part of April and early May was very wet. We were all beginning to wonder whether spring and summer would ever come. I have to say a picnic was not top of my list of plans, and it had been so long since I’d seen the original invitation that it had disappeared from my radar, so we started to look more earnestly in the practicalities of going into London to see the river pageant. My Mum did most of the research and discovered a big event at Battersea Park, but they were charging for tickets. So, do we spend money on tickets to a big crowded event where we would probably have to spend more money on drinks, ice creams, flags, side stalls, fairground rides etc. and would probably stand little chance of actually getting near enough to the river to see anything. You’ve guessed it, we decided this was probably not a good idea.
OK, so lets go up and stand by the river to watch, but where should we go? The South Bank is quite easy to get to for us, so we looked on the map. Hmmm. The river pageant looks as though it’s going to sail down the near the north bank. All the big screens toilets etc are going to be on the north bank. For my Mum, the children and I if we are going to these sorts of things it’s really no good to be behind a few people peering through. We pretty much would have to be RIGHT on the river bank in order to see anything. It began to dawn that this was going to be a much bigger event than I had first thought and realistically to get a place by the river at anywhere along the route we would probably have to get there very early in the morning. As the pageant doesn’t start until 3.00 in the afternoon this idea got a definite thumbs down from the children and I have to say my enthusiasm was waning at this point. So after months of idle assumptions we concluded the best viewing point for the river pageant would be on the television.
OK, but I don’t really want to spend this weekend just watching it all on the telly. As the weather began to warm up last week a few friends started talking about the school picnic. I questioned whether there would still be tickets available and friends assured me they had only just got theirs, so I enquired…. You’ve guessed it – none left.
The pressure is mounting. Twitter is talking about street parties, buying flags, jubilee parties, Family members are talking about their street parties, other friends are going on holiday. Help, we’re going to be the social fail.
Next idea. A local sports club we know have a regular music festival at this time of year. Several of our friends are going and had asked if we were going. We have never been before, often we do choose to go away for this holiday weekend, but on the occasions we are here this is the kind of event that B would absolutely put his foot down and insist he hates. We know why B thinks he wouldn’t like it. Lots of people, lots of noise, children running about and quite a few people he doesn’t know. In the past we have accepted his reluctance and recognised his difficulties with these types of situations so we’ve stayed away. However D and I would quite like to go. We want to spend time with our friends, I’d quite like to hear the music. M wants to go as some of her friends and their families will be there. In fact many of B’s friends will be there too. So, at the moment we are thinking we will give this a try on Sunday. We know it will be hard for B, but on some occasions he has enjoyed loud music and we have tried to explain to him that sometimes these events have a ‘pay off’ for him. We enjoy the company of friends and it is often at these types of events that groups of people get together to plan other things, so if you’re not part of the crowd you miss out on other opportunities.
I digress slightly, but last year was a great example of this. D was out with friends and B, and as the adults were all chatting about a camping trip they invited us. The invite wasn’t just a casual ‘do you want to come along?’ It involved several people getting together to say ‘come, we’ll take an extra car, you can borrow some equipment, you can put some stuff in the van’, ‘we’ll make it happen’. Now this was a real experience for our children. Camping is not something we can do easily. You need so much stuff and most camp sites are not easy to get to by train and if they were we probably couldn’t carry all the stuff we need. So, as a result of being out with other families B got to do something which he thoroughly enjoyed and wouldn’t have got the chance to do if we’d just stayed at home.
We live with a fine balance of planning our family experiences around B’s needs, whilst also accepting that we and M have needs and wishes too and also of challenging B to try things and find ways of coping. It sounds awful in some ways, but it is only by doing and experiencing that we learn and open up new opportunities.
So, it’s looking very likely that we will go to the music festival on Sunday. We have also found out about a free event on Monday evening being organised by the Council to light one of the 2012 beacons, so we will be going along to that with our picnic too.
So, after much deliberation, umming and arrring we will be doing something this weekend. We won’t be a ‘social fail’.
I have to say, though, I think our area is very much in contention for the prize of most un-festive area. On the walk to school today, nearly a mile, and then walking to Brownies with M this evening I have not seen a single flag or line of bunting on a house or in the street. There are no flags or bunting in the local town centre, not a flag on a car or anything. Considering we live in the heart of suburbia I find this amazing. Perhaps everyone’s waiting until tomorrow night or Saturday to get the flags out!
Anyway hope you all have a great weekend, whether you are going to some suitably jubilee like events, going away or just enjoying chilling at home in the garden or in front of the telly.
Thanks for reading.