Most days we were back at the campsite by mid-afternoon, giving the children plenty of time to run around and play. Tink enjoyed playing with the football (“Up to the air, Daddy!”) and asking us to play ‘tennist’, which she’s absolutely crap at, but she tried so hard! She would watch H running around with other children, or playing football, and we could see that she was desperate to join in. She did try once or twice, but she is a bit too young and didn’t really understand how to play. Then, one day, there was a little boy who H had been playing with who came over to see who was about. H was off somewhere, so he asked Tink if she wanted to play ball. And she did, for quite a while. They kicked it to each other, threw it to each other, he tried to show her how to head it, she just threw it at his head… Ok, so she still doesn’t quite get some of the social niceties, but the chance to practice was brilliant, and so, so lovely to watch.
She became so much more sociable over the two weeks. As well as wanting to play, she began saying ‘hello’ to people – strangers too. She’s never really done this before. Children would get a curious look, then a big smile and a “hel-loooo”, adults might get a cheery, “morning!”. One major step we witnessed, was when she saw a little boy she thought had fallen over. She bent over to him and said, “are you okay?”, with a concerned look. She waited a few moments for him to reply (which he didn’t, as he was only teeny!) and then carried on, looking back to check. Not only did she show concern, and understand that this little person may not be okay, she vocalised it too! Fantastic! Dave and I stood looking at her, then each other with our jaws on the floor! The other family must have thought we were nuts!
We also noticed her manners. We’ve always tried to instil the importance of good manners into our children and Tink has been pretty good. One of her earliest words was ‘dease’ (please) which she signed at the same time. During this holiday, we had lots of ‘please’ and ‘thank you Mummy/Daddy’, as well as ‘excuse me’ if we were in her way. She is also beginning to apologise for her actions if she realises she’s done something she shouldn’t, with a sweet-as “sorry Mummy!”
Her speech overall seemed to take a huge leap while we were away; Dave and I sat up most evenings discussing it and just how different she seemed to be. She was talking in short sentences much more often and she didn’t seem to struggle for the words for things – she can name most things now (not always the right names, but a name nonetheless!)
Something else we noticed was that although outwardly she might have appeared to be coping well, she was asking for her ‘deedee’ (dummy) much, much more than usual. And then, once she did have it, she was chewing and biting it – something we’ve seen her do before when she’s anxious. We ended up buying several more over the course of the holiday as she was chewing through at least one every couple of days. Although she did seem very, very happy, I guess there was some underlying anxiety going on that she needed to deal with.
But there were plenty of things that made Tink happy. In particular, bubbles, chocolate ice cream, bathing in a tub, the sea, and the sand and having the space and freedom. She slept well, she ate well, she didn’t meltdown, she made leaps in her development. She was an absolute pleasure to be around and we were so glad we took the plunge. I didn’t want to come home!