Photo story: Today my world turned orange!

27 April 2015

Dear friend,

It is the time of year when Holland turns orange. I love it! I love that the Dutch are unashamedly patriotic. I love seeing all the flags hanging. I love seeing everyone dressed up in orange; clothes, feather boas, deely boppers, hair and inflatable crowns. I love the orange cakes and cookies in the bakers (too much). The Dutch really know how to party and there is certainly something for everyone on King's day. 

When I enthusiastically announced the imminent arrival of Koningsdag to the boys, little man was filled with enthusiasm but big lad's response was lukewarm to say the least.

Oh no, not Koningsdag!

Ok, so I get why this day can be a nightmare for anyone with sensory issues. 

Crowds of people everywhere, noise, colour, more noise, more people, no space, no peace, talking, laughing, music, lights, new people, old people, strange people, more noise. 

We take Koningsdag slowly and in manageable bits. We have plenty of rests at home in-between the festivities. We stand on the outskirts of the crowd. We go at my big lad's pace. But we go! 

I do not want to limit the big lad's life experiences just because he has Autism. I think that it is important for him to lead a varied life and not to be isolated or withdrawn from his community! 

However, sensory issues aren't the real reason for his reticence. It is the free market...

Koningsdag always begins with a free market. It is an opportunity for children to offload all of their old, unplayed with toys, books etc on other children (for a small price) and most parents to despair at how much money they have wasted over the last few years on rubbish toys for their kids.

The big lad hates it! He does not want to let go of any of his toys! To an outsider this may seem like spoilt behaviour. But if I tell you he was unconsolable when the old, broken washing machine was taken away perhaps you will understand more. It was our machine. He liked it. He didn't want a new one. He doesn't want change!

Big lad's interests are few but extreme and his play is limited. I have tried everything to introduce more variety. We use picture cards, timers, rewards, rules etc but he still has too much screen time and we have cupboards filled with dusty toys. 

The first time I suggested that we sell some toys at the free market I wasn't prepared for his reaction. Total meltdown! There were his toys, his things, he liked them. Instead we took him to the market and bought more crap to sit unplayed with in our cupboards!

Last year I was sneaky. I took away some 'baby' toys in advance. On the morning I announced that the little man and I would be selling them and he could help if he wanted. Big lad reluctantly joined us. I won't lie there were some tears when the first item was sold. But once he realised the money was for him he began to get a taste for it. He even began overpricing items and haggled with some customers. 

I was so proud of my boy, interacting with other people (strangers) and they made enough money together to buy a new computer game. Happy boys and happy mummy!

This year my preparations started earlier. We sorted out the toys together and came up with a stash of things to sell. Including the much loved and much played with Thomas Trains, books, toy story figures and a few of little man's many cuddly toys. 

The weather was beautiful.
We were ready!

Some things we decided not to let go of in the end.

Someone got a little tired of selling. 

The boys needed a little rest.
Almost time for home. Not much left!

After all that hard work we deserved a treat!

No tears, no tantrums. Lots of interacting with others. 

A really successful morning.

Now the boys are looking forward to spending their money at the toy shop.

Oh well, more stuff for next year's free market.

Happy King's day everyone!

Liked this post then check out more of my EXPAT series here.

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