I think I've always been a bit of a homebody. I don't hate to travel, but I don't yearn to either. It doesn't reflect a lack of interest in other countries and cultures. I'm interested. I have vibrant memories of the places I have been and, with the exception of the panic attack on the rocky edifice of Sigiriya, travel has been a uniformly enriching experience for me.
Throwing my lot in with a travel agent's son certainly caused a peak in my air miles. At a mere 16 years old, Ben could be found in far-flung jungles, accidentally eating rare species and communicating preternaturally well in tongues he was ostensibly unfamiliar with. So, prior to the boys' arrival, we sought out yarn shops and interesting food in Japan, Scandinavia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and other destinations closer to home.
Having children doesn't have to narrow your horizons. When Spike was one, we took ourselves off to Morocco on honeymoon without feeling overly trepidatious, but even at that young age, we saw that travel was something that challenged Spike. So, we haven't been touring the world with our boys, and I can't say it has bothered me very much. Instead, we packed up the kitchen sink into our little hatchback and sought out comfortable corners of south east and south west England when we needed a change of scene.
Our holidays follow a typical pattern, with Spike feeling unsettled and increasingly upset as we journey to our destination. On arrival, he has to contend with the waves of anxiety that roll over him. Gradually, they lessen in intensity and frequency. There then follows a period of psychological over-adjustment, where Spike copes with the not-being-at-homeness of holidays by designating our accommodation "home". He mentally moves house. Of course, this means we have the same issue in reverse on departure. As a toddler, these mental gymnastics nearly trapped us in an isolated country house in the New Forest. Spike finally adjusted to our holiday home, but then refused to get in the car to go anywhere. And by "refused", I mean he was immovable. Getting home at the end of the week looked like an uncertain prospect.
I won't bang on about ABA too much on this blog. There are links on my Saturday Club page, if you would like to know more about it. However, having the confidence to apply this hard science to the New Forest dilemma (albeit inexpertly), meant we stayed calm and helped Spike through his road block. We sat him on top of the car (which he thought was hilarious) to get him over his fear of the vehicle, and then inched him towards our goal of being in his car seat and allowing the car to move without becoming distressed - all without subterfuge or physical force, just clarity and reinforcement. I think it was that event that turned me into an advocate for ABA. When wielded by someone ethical and loving, it is kind. It empowers Ben and me to be better parents.
Anyway, we've moved on a lot since those days. Some holidays (still not all), pass without meltdowns. We have become practised in the art of social stories and preparing Spike for new adventures. And Spike's love of trains has helped *a lot*. New parts of the country reveal new stations, classes of train, liveries and so forth. He is building holiday memories, too.
Still. When Spike is being tossed about by the waves of anxiety, I sometimes wonder why we do it to him, but then I look back at the progress he has made and know we are doing the right thing. I don't see his passion for trains waning, and I like to think that one day, he will set off on some Great Train Adventure. But for now, I get what it feels like to be a homebody (even if Spike is a homebody to the nth power), and when Center Parcs looms like the north face of Sigiriya in Spike's mind, I'll guide him up to admire the view.