“Oh well,” I said, “at least he’s got it out of the way now.”
I went over to the sink to get the kitchen towel and started wiping up the sick from the lounge floor. Arun looked a little sheepish and then went back over to his mum and sat back down on her lap to listen to his bedtime story.
His little sister, used to the scene, was unperturbed, “Was Arun sick again?” she asked.
We were staying in our flat in London. I had some meetings the next morning and we had decided to spend a few days in the big smoke for a bit of a change of scene from our house about fifty miles outside of London.
The only problem is that Arun, being a young boy with both cerebral palsy and autism doesn’t really like a change of scene. For the last year or so, every time we go anywhere new, there is a pretty high chance that Arun will throw up just before bedtime. The heightened anxiety that comes with autism is triggered by a change of sleeping location. Add to this the poor muscle control associated with cerebral palsy means he often has awful reflux. Anxiety + reflux = vomit.
You can set you watch by it. Sometime after bath-time and before his stories are over, Arun will be sick. Once he is ill, he is fine and will quite happily go to bed. Still doesn’t make bedtime when we are staying away any easier.
The following morning, I had a phone call – my meeting at the Department of Education had been postponed.
“What shall we do with the morning?” Clare asked.
“I’ve got an idea. You’ll never hear me say this again, but let’s go to Ikea.”
“Eh?” I’m not sure who was more surprised, Clare or me.
“Yeah, let’s go and get the kids a bunk bed.”
So, off we went and six hours later I stood proudly in front of a damn fine bunk bed made with my own fair hand.
Now I must admit, it wasn’t just about providing the kids with a nice new bed to sleep in – up until now they had both been sleeping in their travel cots every time we went to our London flat. To be honest, I was fulfilling a dream of my own through my children. Growing up, I had always wanted a bunk bed (and the top bunk of course) but never had one. This was probably because I never had a sibling with which to share one, but nevertheless it was an unfulfilled dream.
Now, as I watched my children putting their toys into their bunks I felt a warm feeling inside me.
And, the final verdict?Well, Arun was still sick that night but at least he had his own bunk bed to sleep in afterwards. Fixing up a bunk bed was a good deal easier than fixing my son’s problems.
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