We are back to going out one after the other, my partner and I, now that our daughter is home with us again full time. I may have said before that she unexpectedly left her residential setting a couple of months ago. It wasn’t a great time.

We lost our support when she moved away almost a year ago, and it is a slow process building it back up again. We know it will take time as it’s so important to get it right. It’s a huge deal inviting someone you don’t know well into your home to care for your child when you aren’t around, isn’t it? Trust is paramount. Thankfully some of the PAs from the past have been happy to spend time with her. She’s very pleased about that.

Anyway, we don’t get many opportunities these days to go out together without our daughter.  One evening over the Christmas holiday I took myself off for a seaside walk. It was twilight time, mild and peaceful. What could be a better scene in which to stretch my legs, reflect on the day’s events and contemplate the coming new year? The tide was still quite low and I decided to venture along one of the groynes leading out into the sea and get an all-around view of the waves.  I clambered over the rocks onto it and stepped forward.

Unfortunately the surface proved to be very slippery indeed despite (or because of?) it’s oh-so-smooth facade. I slithered and slid down the slimy groyne and for a few seconds thought I would end up in the water. I could feel myself go. It’s true that time can slow things down and flash up snapshots of a whole life lived. For a moment I was scared of what would happen next.

In any event I somehow managed to right myself and scramble back to safe, level ground. There was no-one around, I was fine, my dignity was intact. Of course I got over this mishap quickly and wended my way back home, unscathed but with another little adventure under my belt. And a sharp reminder that all is not always as it at first seems.

The next day the three of us were sitting around relaxing after lunch, a festive dvd quietly playing in the background, fairy lights twinkling. I was grumpily suggesting we take down the Christmas tree at the earliest opportunity as our daughter was paying it no attention and was there any more point in keeping it up for her now the holiday was nearly over?

She suddenly, to our immense surprise, left her spot in front of the screen, made her way over to the tree and took off a shiny sparkly bauble she had chosen last year when out shopping with a friend and examined it closely. Then she picked up a bag from under the tree which contained gifts for her – and proceeded to unwrap each in turn before selecting a favourite and playing with it for the next hour.

She has never opened a present uninvited before. Nor has she ever taken much interest in the Christmas tree we ceremoniously put up each year to mark the season. This year one of her old pals decorated it for us. She did a great job. It was her presents that our daughter opened.

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