As soon as we were told our middle guy J won an award for his photography skills, we rang the respite centre in the hopes that we could both bring J to Dublin to receive his award. Luckily, we were granted respite. J won a Creative Art Award, as a young carer during this year’s National Carers Week.
J is, I suppose, what we would call a young carer. He sits with Ethan when I need to use the toilet, or when I’ve to answer the door, or when I’ve to cook or when I’ve to help his youngest brother get dressed…he feeds Ethan some toast and juice from time to time and he plays with Ethan- that is the extent of the ‘caring’ role my twelve year old takes.
My three year old, tries to feed Ethan, tries to help with dressing Ethan and tries to help Ethan walk around. Does that make him a carer too? – I don’t know.
What I do know is that children will do what they see being done ‘normally’ in their homes.
I don’t stop my youngest boys from trying to help, instead I thank them and give them an easier task to do, so they still feel like they are helping. It is very ambitious of my three year old to try to help dress Ethan, as even I struggle with that.
Does that make me a bad parent?
Who’s fault is it that my kids think that helping me care for their brother is something that they need to help with?
Apparently every Tom, Dick and Harry have an opinion.
My son J has had his pictures all over Facebook due to his award.
The comments are a little hurtful, they range from giving out stink to the people who organise Carers Week to stating that J doesn’t have a childhood.
The first part of that- it is mainly other carers who are so very angry at the idea of Carers Week- why? Because they can’t get out to the events, they feel it’s just a pat on the head to us carers and a nod of gratitude towards us, carers. They feel nothing actually changes and Carers Week does little to help improve their personal circumstances.
But how can anything change if we the carers don’t respond to Carers Week? We all go out in force for awareness days, yet a whole week to raising awareness about us; the forgotten, undervalued , under appreciated members of society and some carers would rather bitch about the week rather than come up with ideas? I will never understand that mentality, and I do know I may lose a few readers here; but it’s my truth- how can you justify raising awareness for X, Y, and Z then tearing apart a week dedicated to raising awareness for Carers, for you?
We can help mould Carers Week into something that, we the carers, can all benefit from.
We can contact the Care Alliance and / or The Cares Association of Ireland and make suggestions. Email. Phone. Post.
I can think of a few things that could help grow carers week; online chat from those advocates who know all the entitlements a Carer should be getting. This could be easily set up on boards.ie or a live Facebook chat over on National Carers page where we can all join in and ask questions.
Little gift bags to be sent out to every single registered carer in Ireland; this could be sponsored by many companies involved with Carers Week already and many more who would like to be involved.
The pamper days and meals out are a lovely idea on paper; the reality is carers can’t make it. Why not run these pampering sessions and meals out a few different times in the day or send out vouchers to those who have expressed an interest but cannot attend on that day.
So how do we change the voices of the carers of this island?
We speak up.
We thank those who have done so much to have this week acknowledged on mainstream media – we can all take part via our computer, we can contact all these agencies and let them know what we think would improve Carers week, instead of leaving bitchy remarks on social media, do something proactive.
To those who are advocating and doing so much to bring Carers Week into the public, I commend you all. It isn’t easy to get the public to understand what it is like to be a Carer. Sadly, what the public don’t realise is that everyone of them are one step away from becoming a Carer too ; life and circumstances can change in an instant.
And now for the ones who are currently commenting that my child doesn’t have a childhood – You have absolutely no clue what my son’s life is like nor have you an idea of the role he plays in our family.
I have already stated the level of care my son provides and if our government listened to families like mine, my son would only ever have to play with his brother but due to budgets and the lack of help; my son sits with him so I can use the toilet or do mundane everyday things that must be done.
This is our only respite for June; as with so many of our respites we use them to ensure we make some ‘average’ childhood memories for our sons.
We made the trip to Tayto Park, after J received his award.
Let me tell you a little about Tayto Park!
We had never been to Tayto Park; as always I was sure to take note of the accessibility of the park itself, the restaurants and of course the toilets.
Tayto Park made me wonder if those who work there had to take some special class on how to be super super friendly to all guests! It felt like the land of a thousand welcomes; which is good, considering that we are Irish and all.
Let me state here openly and honestly; as I have grown up into a semi adult, I have become a tad bit of a ‘wuss’…I did not go on any fast rides. None, unless you count the boat over on Eagles Nest Adventure Zone, then yep that was the fastest ride I went on with my screaming and I mean screaming-like-he -was-going-to -die three year old son Dee Dee.
The operator of the boat offered to stop the ride, my darling was that loud. Eventually we got off, he thanked the operator and told me that ‘it wasn’t that scary’. A man behind us smiled and added “Well you fooled us kiddo”. We both laughed while Dee Dee shrugged his shoulders confused at what we were laughing at.
I spent most of my time in the Eagles Nest area, which is ideal for younger kids and I even found a wheelchair swing! It’s very accessible the park itself , there are lots to do and see wheelchair or no wheelchair.
My husband and J spent their time over on Eagles Sky Adventure Zone where they happily rode the ‘Cu Chulainn Coaster’, got thrown upside down, left and right on ‘The Rotator’ , then climbed the ‘Extreme Climbing Wall’. They were disappointed that not everything was open but quickly decided that another trip was the only solution to that issue!
We got attacked by Dinosaurs too while in the 5D cinema but relaxed after with a train ride around Eagles Nest.
We even had plenty of time to get lost in the ‘Crispy Maze’ and eventually made our way out to go to the Zoo.
We ate until we couldn’t eat anymore but of course had room for cheese and onion Taytos, sure they give you them as you leave!
There is so much to see and do, I haven’t even mentioned the amazing playgrounds, the Tayto Factory, Ice Valley, Giant Chess water fun, Tiny Taters patch,Tayto Twister Slide, Power Surge and so much more!
The bottom line – buy the wristbands, don’t do tokens.
The food is reasonable, you get a decent amount for your money.
Get the kids through the gift shop as quickly as you can, like most theme parks, this is where you’ll spend euros you didn’t even know you still had!
I cannot recommend Tayto Park enough , they are currently building more and adding more.
Would we bring Ethan?
If I had enough adults with me, I think I would chance it but only at off peak season. He cannot manage all the busyness and excitement that a theme parks brings to kids and adults alike. He could definitely enjoy a few rides, and it would be easy to bring him around while the toilet facilities are excellent, not a step in sight!
We hope to return before September .
So to answer the commenters who think my son doesn’t have a childhood; I assure you he does, we do our best and until the government acknowledge carers all over this island and give them the proper supports, services and payment for the job they do, kiddies all over Ireland will become young carers despite their parents best efforts.
This was originally published over on FamilyFriendlyHQ