Normally I love watching the Olympics wherever it is held in the world but now that the event is being hosted by my home country, I’ve been lacking enthusiasm. It’s not just the ticket debacle and the corporate sponsorship side that has irked me but the fact that I simply can’t get to the capital.
With two special needs children and an older teenager, taking them to the Olympics is just not an option. Its not just the cost that is scary but I know that unless my autistic children are really engaged with a particular sport (which they aren’t) they will not manage it. The noise, the crowds, the excitement and visiting a new place will onslaught their senses and cause huge anxiety. It is a high risk strategy for me to take them and to find we have to abort our trip because they are in meltdown is not one I want to face. I know from previous experience what it is like to deal with an autistic meltdown in an unfamiliar city and I really don’t want to be in that situation again. It’s not fair on them.
Whilst I have accepted that it is not right for my children, I can’t help but feel a bit sad that I cannot experience this ‘once in a lifetime’ event. I would love to go and watch some tennis, athletics or cycling with my husband but alas I can’t. I just can’t leave my children for a whole day (which is what it would take to visit London). It’s one thing being able to leave them for an hour or two with a relative whilst I grab a coffee in my local Costa but a whole day away is too much for them. They are not used to it and neither am I and I doubt we can build up to this in time for the Olympics, if at all.
I suppose I could leave my husband to care for them while I have a day out but I don’t want to go on my own or even with a friend. It doesn’t feel right when I am a wife and mother to then go and do something without them; not something as big as the Olympics anyway. I am at a phase in my life when my husband and children are my everything and the thought of not being with them during these amazing events is something that makes me feel quite sad.
The other alternative is to find childcare for my children and for me and my husband to travel to London together but this worries me even more. Would a babysitter manage two autistic children, would they manage a meltdown, would they keep them safe? are the sort of questions that plague my mind. I know how difficult it can be looking after my children so how would someone who doesn’t have an emotional investment in my children be able to cope? Above all else, I want people to want to mind my children rather than it being a job or an obligation and I’m not sure there are many people that are up to this. Even if I could arrange good childcare I can just imagine how stressed I would be and how many phone calls it would take for me to feel reassured (or not). It’s not like I could nip back home and take over the reigns if something happened.
So faced with such difficulties, it became far easier to just switch off from the Olympics which is what I did until I heard about the Olympic Torch Relay and the inspiring stories behind some of the runners. I started to think that if I couldn’t get to London then I could at least get to see the ‘flame’. So this weekend I took the opportunity to join hundreds of others cheering on the Olympic torch as it passed nearby. I didn’t take my children; they weren’t interested so I left them under the care of a relative whilst me and my husband joined in with the celebrations and what celebrations they were!
Despite the unseasonably cool weather, the atmosphere was amazing. Roads had been closed and street entertainment arranged and people had been whipped up into a frenzy of clapping and flag waving as the flame passed by. It seems daft to say that we cheered the flame but we were also applauding the runners for their stories were inspirational and heart warming. The disabled man for instance whose torch was clamped on to his wheelchair. He had been nominated for his commitment to sport and helping others despite acquiring his disability as the result of a sport injury when he was a teenager.
Stories like this made me realise that there is a lot in life to enjoy, no matter what your limitations. I decided that instead of grieving for what I couldn’t do, I should concentrate on what I could do and I realised that being together as a family was more important to me than going down to London. I can still enjoy the Olympics but I can do so from the comfort of my own home and in front of the telly where I can cheer on Team GB as much as anyone else in the Olympic arenas.