I have just emerged from a long, dark tunnel of completing Rufus’s DLA (Disability Living Allowance) form. It is a dark place to be but I got there in the end. Three evenings and one morning later, the form was completed, the cross referencing was done, the endless photocopying of medical reports was finished and the envelope was sealed.
The only way to fill in a DLA form is to focus on what your child CAN’T do so that you can highlight exactly what level of need your child requires so that he/she can be allocated the correct amount of DLA. As parents, we are our children’s greatest encouragers so we try to spend our days focusing on what they can do by themselves or with help and we just buckle down and get on with doing for them what they can’t do by themselves. But the way to fill in this 40 page form is to spell out in very raw and real terms every single aspect of daily (and nightly) life that our children need help with. And hours upon hours of writing like this kind of sucks.
So to return some balance to my wellbeing this week, I decided to write a list of all of the things Rufus can do. I would wholeheartedly recommend this exercise to any parent filling in their child’s DLA form. Set aside some time as soon as possible after you have sent off the form and restore some of the hope, positivity and fun which you temporarily had to put to one side while completing the form. Then go and enjoy your child because they are SO MUCH MORE than a list of things they can’t do.
Here is the list.
1. Every single morning, no matter how badly I have slept or how long I have waited for someone to get me out of bed, I give my mummy and daddy morning hugs like they’ve just returned from a 40 day excursion to the North Pole.
2. I patiently stroke my baby sister gently on the head while mummy or daddy hold my hand, even though every bone in my body would love to grab her and squeeze her like a stress ball.
3. I lean my head in towards my baby sister’s head close enough so that we are touching, stay there for a few seconds while I smile at her and make my happy noise and that’s my special way of giving her a cuddle.
4. I have a way of getting my big sister out of a grump even when our mummy and daddy have tried everything and have given up. Sometimes she whines and cries after a long day at school or if she’s not allowed to have something she wants. I always start with getting my magnetic grin right up in her face, then start giggling and sometimes she just magically forgets what she’s cross about and we end up playing together on the floor. She lets me get a good pull on her hair and rolls around with me for a bit. I think this somehow chills her out.
5. I can amuse myself in the car by laughing hysterically as we drive past people wearing hats or hoods, which, in my mind, are only ever worn for my own comedy value.
6. I can initiate a game or activity by picking it up and giving it to (or sometimes tapping it on) another person. Sometimes ‘they’ don’t let me watch tv when I continually give them the remote so I try giving it to the tv. It hasn’t worked so far but I’ll keep persisting, nevertheless.
7. I let everyone in the room know I’m excited by a film or tv programme by sitting as close as I can to the screen and tensing all of the muscles in my body with excitement.
8. I draw people in for a cuddle with with my huge smile and my reaching arms then, before they realise what is happening to them, my reaching arms have turned into grabby hands, clinging on to hair, glasses, earrings, scarves, whatever I can to draw them even closer and with all my might and every ounce of love I can muster I give them THE MOST LOVING EMBRACE KNOWN TO MANKIND.
9. I have a way of making you feel like you are the most important person in the world by seeking you out in a crowd, flashing my gorgeous grin at you and giving you that knowing look of ‘I know you, I know you know me and I know we have a secret bond.’
10. I am a whizz at finding and passing objects in the bath when people ask me for them and I particularly enjoy filling cups with water and pouring them out of the bath, mostly in the direction of my daddy or my baby sister.
11. In a room full of my toys, I can seek out the one object I am not allowed to touch or play with and whilst investigating or mouthing it, I have a sneaky little giggle to myself because ‘they’ didn’t think I would find it.
12. I am THE BEST eater for my age. I eat anything and everything that is healthy and my appetite is out of this world. I can feed myself tiny things like raisins and chocolate drops and I can also eat an entire apple or pear all by myself. I can spy a crumb of food from miles away and my parents call me Inspector Gadget due to my incredible reach. Waitresses and the general public haven’t quite cottoned on to my reaching powers yet.
13. I have fine tuned my bottom shuffling skills which I’ve been working on for the last three years. I am super speedy and can bottom shuffle without putting my hands down to help propel me – something even my mummy can’t do but it’s funny watching her try. She says my core muscles must be amazing because I can also sit up from lying down without using my hands to help me get up.
14. I am getting good at pulling up from a sitting to kneeling position, usually motivated by mealtimes (where I pull up to my special chair), screens (when someone has left a phone or iPad on the sofa) and cuddles (when my baby sister is having a cuddle and I want in on the action).
15. I can focus on my PODD book or PODD page when my grown ups or my sister are trying to tell me something. I don’t focus for long because it’s also usually a good opportunity to sneak a quick cuddle or hair pull but I’m starting to get more interested nowadays rather than just pushing the PODD book away like I used to.
16. My little legs have super strength in them and know exactly what to do even if my mind hasn’t quite caught up with the balance and confidence for me to be off walking on my own yet but if an adult holds my hands I can go pretty much wherever I want which is usually in the direction of food, my favourite people or my next door neighbour’s dog.
17. I always get a feeling for when the general public are miserable or need cheering up, usually in hospital waiting rooms, supermarkets or walking down the street and I use these opportunities to perfect my excellent laugh. Sometimes, once I start laughing, I can’t stop which makes mummy or daddy laugh too, then other people smile and sometimes join in with the laughing even if they weren’t feeling happy before. I think this is one of my best skills. My mummy and daddy call it ‘bringing the joy’.