Sunday, 25 March 2012

There's always Starbucks...


The NC’s dad would like to take the NC and Mini to London for a day out. As far as I can make out from the NC it would be a proper touristy day taking in the sights and sounds of the capital. I think Mini would love it, but I’m worried that all that buzz, noise and excitement could mean that the day isn’t enjoyed as it should be, and at 5 is he old enough to appreciate it yet?

All those new things – an hour and a half on the train, followed by the rushing, people, keep to the right escalators, ticket machines and ‘Mind the Gaps’ of the tube, then hundreds of pigeons, lots of people and traffic, tall buildings to look at, not knowing where the nearest public loo is, excitement of Daddy and Grandad all to himself. Exciting, scary or both for a 5 year old who struggles with hand driers, police sirens and noisy motorbikes?

We’re only just starting to get a handle on Mini’s behaviour. It’s difficult at times, and we have strategies we use at home, but until now we’ve been very much limited what we do outside of the home because we just couldn’t deal with Mini. We’ve now started venturing out again, but very slowly and only when Mini is in the right frame of mind and not too tired, and to ‘safe’ places that are close to home.

So what do we do? My concern is that NC struggles with Mini at the best of times, without the props we use at home, would he be able to cope if Mini had a meltdown – given all the exciting, but scary new things they would encounter?
They are far from home, and even coming home on a train could spark meltdowns as it’s new and different and wobbles and is noisy and there are strange people and passing views and it’s hard to wee because everything shakes! There is nothing familiar anywhere (except Daddy and Grandad) to help calm Mini down.

Although there is always Starbucks.

Now don’t laugh, but Mini knows Starbucks well, he is very familiar with their green logo, he knows what type of cakes and drinks he likes (and is allowed). In our town, where there are several, Mini can navigate the streets to find the nearest one (avoiding ‘those other ones’). When my own mum and stepdad have visited and asked where he’d like to go, Mini’s answer is always Starbucks (not the beach, zoo or farm!).
Can we therefore use Starbucks with it’s familiar layout, and samey furniture, style, atmosphere and smells as a safe calming place if Mini starts to show signs of stress? Is it the same as that safe, warm, calming ‘time in’ hug?

Do you know, I think it might be…

Now I’m not suggesting that the NC and Mini are about to embark on a journey to the big smoke with grandad on the basis that there are plenty of those particular establishments there - I don’t think they’re ready, and the NC is in agreement with me - but I do think we ought to explore the comforting and calming properties of our (slightly overpriced) favourite cake-serving coffeehouse more. There could be something in it, even if it’s just a calming hug for me from one of those extra-hot, decaff, no froth, caramel macchiatos!

16 comments:

  1. Love it - if it's any help, Bonzo and I have done several trips to London and he has loved it each time. Interesting, as as you say, a hand drier is worrying..... but, the noise of London, doesn't seem an issue!

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    1. We'll bear that in mind thanks Buster. I think NC has just spoken to his dad and said no for now, but it's something for another time. I think it's just that Mini's behaviour is so unpredictable, but it's getting better so...maybe later in the summer...

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  2. Maybe it would be better if it were just the you and the NC on such a trip? I did take the risk and took Pickle and Gherkin on my own. I geared myself up for the worst but it was actually 'ok'. Having said that Pickle doesn't have issues with loud noises, just with running away in crowds...eek! Plenty of Starbucks though, tee hee. That's so funny. x

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    1. I do wonder Claire if you might be right. I think we might be able to take him to somewhere like the science museum - straight there, straight back, but we still have to go through the train/tube bit.
      You were *very* brave taking yours on your own! Starbucks is definitely the way for me to cope with it all, and joking aside, it really is familiar for Mini, so is worth us remembering for him too!

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  3. Perhaps just a train journey to begin with to NCs work town might be good to begin with...familiar for NC, something Mini can identify with and a precursor for further afield....x

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    1. I think you're right, we're thinking about when we might be able to do it - soon hopefully x

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  4. Don't know Mini, obviously but just to let you know it CAN be done! We did this with our adopted boys last year, and it worked. They are 8 and 5; we went to London, travelling by train. I admit it was hard work, and they got very over excited - Pup, my eldest gets very hyper and silly when he's anxious in new situations, and can be extremely challenging, and Tigs the youngest is borderline ADHD.
    However we had a great day! They both want to go again....
    We decided to only do 2 activities, that seemed like enough, so we did the London Eye and the Science Museum. We planned the day carefully and told them what we were going to do, how we were travelling, where we would eat etc; and we hung onto them on the trains and tubes.
    One thing we have found is that their behaviour in new situations is a thousand times better when we are with them; Don't know if Mini is the same, but if he is, might it be easier if you both go? If that was possible.
    As for the noise, you may be surprised. Pup used to have major issues with noise, he'd vomit if exposed to unexpected loud noises, and he is still pretty noise sensitive, but he did not turn a hair, even at the underground trains. We did prewarn him!
    NB the Science museum gets very busy, especially the child friendly areas.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Megs, it's encouraging to know it can be done. It would most definitely be better if both of us were there, but that would also mean lugging 22month old Dollop along too, and she would not be up for it! And I think NC's dad really wants it to be a boys day out...
      But, perhaps when we (read the NC!) feel better able to manage Mini, this is something they could do...it clearly is possible :-) It gives me hope! The decision not to do it now is as much about NC's confidence with Mini, as much as feeling nervous about how Mini would cope...

      It's interesting you say that you told them what was happening and prewarned on the noise front...did you do that far in advance? For Mini too much too early leads to over excitement, anxiety and hyperactivity...

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  5. I can see why taking a 22 monther might not be good!
    I can't remember exactly, but I think we 'drip fed' info about what it would be like. E.g.

    Day 1 - London is REALLY big!
    Day 2 - tell them what the underground is like. (we offered to take ear defenders, but they refused)
    Day 3 - Pictures of the London Eye..... etc

    With my boys it seems to go in better if we tell them a little at a time; just dropping comments into conversations over the week or two before the trip, showing the odd picture etc.

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    1. Drip feeding is good. We do that with all sorts of things! Thanks for your help x

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  6. So many good tips and advice already! I love this post. The thinking "outside the box" with children who have tough times processing things/surroundings. Not many would cleverly mark Starbucks as therapeutic for a child, but you realize its benefit to little Mini! well done!

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  7. We've toyed with the idea of heading up to the big smoke but aren't sure how Katie would feel about it and how the crowds etc would feel to her. She can get extremely silly when overexcited. You can drive easily to the science museum though. We did it with some friends and managed to park relatively close by. It might be worth going on a weekday rather than a weekend. I would definitely agree that you go too and like the Starbucks idea. It's what I was writing about re our holiday and having that familiarity. Does Mini use an I-pod or DS? That might help coccoon him a bit on the train. We do short journeys on our local train, just to our nearest town so Katie can get used to it.

    I'm glad to hear that you are getting more coping strategies together and feeling that this visit might be a possibility in the future. That's really great. Wishing you good luck.

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    1. There's just so much to consider isn't there - the excitement of a day trip, a train journey, a new place, different sights, different sensory stimulants...
      The science museum is sounding like one of our best bets - a definite venue to aim for rather than a sight-seeing day.

      Mini doesn't have an ipod or DS, but I do, and he's enjoyed them when he's used them, that's a great idea for cocooning and taking his mind off the train journey...

      Thanks for the good luck wishes too...perhaps one day we'll see you and Katie at the science museum!

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  8. I think using Starbucks as a common, familiar soothing environment makes perfect sense. It is giving him somewhere that barring Starbucks shutting down, he could go to many different countries even and find something familiar and comforting. When dealing with kids with high anxiety, sometimes you have to think outside the box and just do what works.

    Thanks for linking with Adoption Blog Hop!

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  9. Thanks Sharla, it definitely does seem to work...

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