Life laundry that is.
Not the baskets of frayed jeans, shrunken tee shirts and odd socks scattered around and spilling out all over the place. They represent the kind of daily chaos I don’t even notice anymore. Until someone runs out of socks. Other chaos I notice. I try to ignore. I notice more and more. Until it and the contents of my head merge into a smothering patchwork of shapes, none of which fits seamlessly to any other, individually irksome, cumulatively cumbrous and all unrelentingly scratchy.
Our home has all the organisation of an asteroid belt. And stuff hurtles past just as fast. Critical mass is reached and a chain reaction begins. It gathers momentum like some gadget slung hard across the room and any pretence of order which might have remained is consumed in an almighty explosion of reams upon reams of paper, poster paint and doors swinging off hinges. The neighbours turn up their TV and I go a bit cuckoo. Dave gets weird, Boy outweirds us both and the dog follows his glittery paw prints back to his bolt hole.
“You’re his bolt hole,” the PAWS trainer rightly observed. Because I’m the only one whose behaviour he can predict. Most of the time. And he’s mine, actually.
I took the opportunity for respite in July. I took the dog with me. A cabin in an old quarry with no phone and no internet. I watched my favourite film on a loop, soaked up the solitude in the outdoor tub and slept. A lot.
A few months earlier a paper entitled Acquiring a Pet Dog Significantly Reduces Stress of Primary Carers for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Prospective Case Control Study appeared in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. I took the tube to Holborn Bars in May to hear Prof Mills present the paper. Rush hour on the London Underground. What the Hell was I thinking?
Like most PAWS families, we had an expectation that if anything approaching therapy could be achieved, it would flow in an obvious dog to boy direction. The reality is much less linear. We weren’t part of the original longitudinal research cohort and so provided no data for the statistical analysis but our own experiences align very closely with the initial findings.
In a nutshell, what was originally conceived of as a therapeutic intervention for the child actually turned out to be an intriguingly much greater source of therapy for the parent-carer. I’d be doing the research, the PAWS team and every participating family a huge disservice if I shoehorned a serious examination of the evidence-so-far into what began as a stream of consciousness approach to airing one’s colour-run laundry in public. So I’ll set aside that line of thought for now and return to it later with the attentive consideration it deserves.
What I’m really talking about is therapy. Self-therapy. Or as it’s come to be known in this house, blogging!
Except… I find the writing process really hard. And slow. Stressful even. Not words I would necessarily use to define “therapeutic.” I’m trying to give my fingers full and free access to the jumble of my mind but there remains – something – in the way and I can’t quite put any of my fingers on what it is. Self-sabotage? Self-defense? Self-something-else? Like mindfulness malfunctioning. Over complicating everything.
The washing machine has sixteen different programmes, eight different temperature settings and four extra special pre-sets for the ‘rinse only in fresh morning dew, only after a full moon’ overly expensive stuff. But there is still always that one garment…