On the train from Umina Beach to Sidney Central and then Randwick, traveling from a quite northern suburb of Sydney to the center. There is a lot of water to see, quiet water and surf beaches. I am enjoying the water. Marianne took us up Mount Ettalong to view the beaches that flank it—Pearl Beach and Umina Beach. Later, we walked one of the beaches. So much of what we will see in the next weeks hugs the coast! I need time to just sit and stare at waves.
Yesterday, we had a pretty rocky start. I had taken Julia’s iPad away from her the night before because it was becoming an obsession. I expected to charge it and give it back to her the next day but behavior was escalating. Julia was calling me names and issuing vague threats. She was saying she wanted to run away and hurt someone. I tried to given in some, talk reasonably to her and was somewhat angry. Nothing broke her mood. In fact, being kind to her seemed to push her further. Probably the only thing that would have appeased her was the iPad and that was nonnegotiable.
The plan was to go to a Wildlife Park that was about a half hour north of Marianne’s home. Julia was making unreasonable bids for my attention in the car and whining. Looking at it with excellent hindsight, she was ramping up. She doesn’t have many meltdowns these days and I’m not on the lookout for the signs.
Behavior was bad enough that she needed a time out. I thought. I wanted her to stay in the car alone for a few minutes as calm down time. I told her about this and walked away from the car. I hadn’t gone 100 feet when she climbed into the front seat and pushed the horn. I think she meant to sound it once but it tripped the alarm. I got her out of the car, thinking that we’d get into the park and find a picnic table for her to sit at but as we approached the gate, she began screaming and flailing. We couldn’t go on. Had I been alone I probably would have taken her home. I probably would have taken her home right after we parked. We walked-I strong armed her-back to the parking lot and she sat on a log for a long time. There was a bit more screaming, lots of angry tears and mean words. When she calmed down, we could talk some and decided to go to the animal park as planned.
By this time, I was pretty drained and I told Julia she had taken away most of my day’s energy. It was her job to replenish that energy. It was also her job to hold my hand for the rest of the day. Things did not find even keel until the middle of the afternoon.
The park, Australia Walkabout Wildlife Park in Calga, was an excellent choice for our circumstance. It is a smallish and low key park where kangaroos and emus roam freely. The park was not at all crowded which was good for us. There was a schedule of talks about the animals and feedings. We were up close and personal with koalas, a dingo, a Tasmanian Devil, wombats, an echidnas and some birds. We saw owls, flying foxes and a small family of American turkeys. I have no idea what the turkeys were doing there. The staff, who probably either witnessed or knew about Julia’s meltdown, was attentive and kind, giving her time with animals and answering her questions. There was something incredibly quieting about sharing space with the free range animals. Having five or six kangaroos hop by within touching distance without anxiety did indeed replenish my energy. They also had a good stock of ice cream bars which was most welcomed.
Back to the train. Having friends in a new city certainly allows for easy entrance. We have transport cards, Opals, and I know how to ‘top them off.’ I’ve studied the map but places and sites have been pointed out and it is easier to make connections.
Yesterday morning when I woke up, I realized that I had not sat in meditation for a week. I don’t necessarily think that contributed to Julia’s melt down but it did contribute to my energy drain as I reacted to her. So I sat upon waking and then we walked on a beach which is somewhat of a practice for me even when I am not silent. Julia did not ask too much about her iPad but there is still some hostility in the air around it.
Wednesday now. We went on a walking tour of the city, ate noodles in Chinatown and explored the Queen Victoria Building. It was a long day but quite successful in my book. The tour was entertaining and informative. The noodle shop, a tiny place that did not stand out, made their own noodles and dumplings and gave us a fantastic lunch and the QVB was decadent, blousy and exquisite. We retuned home by bus which was very easy after a very nice lady explained that we were waiting on the wrong side of the street. The fly in all this has been Julia’s demeanor. It has not been pleasant. She found small things to obsess about—wanting to buy a bow during our tour, forgetting her ice tea that she decided to carry after lunch. She mumbles, swears, calls me names and is generally unpleasant. When we got back to Steph’s house, she was unwilling to engage in any conversation and could not name one thing we did other than losing her ice tea and not buying a bow. I know at least one family who travelled with their son with disabilities until his behavior made it impossible. For the first time, I’m wondering if we are getter to that point. I enjoy sharing the world with Julia but she could be disappointed about not buying a bow in Madison. Why go half way round the world to loose an ice tea and be angry with me? I am sad to write this.