Two things that had never happened before occurred- one, Noah got lost (that bit is obviously not for the first time!) and for the first time we called the police and two, at the church AGM I sat and listened and changed the way I was planning to vote .
Beth and James came home this weekend so they could come to the World Down Syndrome day ball with us. It was also going to be their goodbye visit before they move to Sydney but they’ve now been invited to a wedding here in April so we’ll see them again.
On Saturday morning Paul needed to work quietly at home writing about his warfarin management programme inronline for Roche. We all got out of his hair and had a lovely Saturday morning first visiting a family fun day at Bunnings DIY shop (where Isaac’s ABCD early intervention group had a stall) then showing Beth the new Plaza shopping centre.
We met up with Paul. Hannah and Lily and all of James’s family and all had lunch together at the Coachman there were twelve of us altogether. I only had a few toys for Noah to fiddle with but he still behaved really well, he sat between Hannah and Beth so is hidden in the photo.
After lunch the hotel receptionist said we could look around the areas where the wedding reception will be held. During this time Noah couldn't resist the main staircase and went upstairs, the first time Hannah managed to get him back but the next time she called me instead.
I told him to stop and even did my stern counting to three bit, but Noah's impulse level was well beyond that so it just made him run upstairs faster. Rather than shout and make a big deal of it I just let him go, knowing that the less fuss the quicker he'd get out of impulse mode and that he has a pretty good sense of direction so would find us again. In retrospect this may not have been the best way to impress future in-laws with my parenting skills.
After about five minutes Noah had not reappeared, so we did the stroll around looking bored and calling "Noah" in a kind of sing-song voice as though it's a game (This is the only voice he'll respond to so however cross we are we have to keep it like this)
Gradually a bit more worry kicked in and our whole party started searching the hotel - we now know the set up of the Coachman hotel pretty well, including the staff restroom, kitchen, underground carpark and where the Christmas decorations and spare mattresses are stored. The Coachman staff were very good and phoned through the hotel and got ready to look though all their camera feeds.
Two cars went out looking along the streets in case Noah had decided to walk home and once he'd been missing about half and hour I decided to call the police because when a little girl with DS wandered from a church breakfast she was found and taken to the police station (by a shop assistant as she had wandered to the nearest supermarket collected a trolley of shopping but couldn't pay!!)
The police were very good (as on the previous two occasions when I'd phoned them about the little girl from church and the little boy with autism who nearly got in the river while visiting our house) and didn't make me feel at all as though I'd been negligent.
Luckily before the police had time to arrive Noah was found in the motel next door by Beth and the hotel receptionist. He had wet hair which he said was from the swimming pool so was rather worrying. Paul had checked all the pools he could find as his first places to look so Noah must have got there later. We tried to get the full story from Noah who was a bit bewildered at how upset I was and said "I was waiting for you but you didn't come."
It seems he had tried to return downstairs to us in the Coachman but had used some backstairs and as he didn't see the door to our floor he'd ended up in the basement carpark, he followed the spiral road out of there and couldn't immediately see the hotel entrance so walked further along to the motel. Then he found the gym there, which as he explained had lots of machines you could get on. Of course his concentration was now on the machines which left no room to think about being lost and looking for the rest of us.
Not the best of ends for our two family dinner, but once I'd got home had a sit down and two cups of coffee I began to feel a bit better. Noah of course had totally recovered well before me, was sad to have upset and worried us all, but is in no way likely to be able to resist similar impulses in the future.
On Sunday Paul and Hannah worked very hard setting up flowers, lights etc for the ball, but we decided it would be easier if I kept the boys out the way by taking them to church (this is not the only reason we go to church you understand!). As Beth was with me Lily decided she'd sit with us too instead of in her usual place in the front row.
At the AGM afterwards the usual long boring stuff happened but there was a vote on whether the church should apply for funding from lotteries for building the new church hall (The Lotteries fund - raised from gambling - is the only way Government money can be given to building projects)
I was planning to vote yes, as I'm so used to the Down syndrome association needing lotteries and pub charity money to survive, that I think I'm kind of inoculated to the ethical issue behind it. Then I remembered that I had initially been sad and uneasy that NZDSA needed money from alcohol and gambling thinking what a sad reflection of society this is.
The difference is that the NZDSA does not have a voice about ethical issues (outside those affecting people with DS) whereas the church clearly says it does not endorse gambling. People spoke well to both side of the argument (and less well as in "this is what the Bishop's wife said to me" and "God has told me which way we have to vote")
Arguments I found most influential were from those with direct experience of the harms of gambling and the person who said
"the reason we're having this vote is that we're uneasy about whether its right or not which shows we should vote against it"
It became clear how important an issue this was to many people so I began to think the church shouldn't go ahead with applying for funding when so many of the congregation would be very hurt.
The final vote about applying to lotteries was something like 25 for, 50 against, and 4 abstain. I said to Beth afterwards that I'd surprised myself by voting against and she said she had too - I hope she's still on the electoral roll from before she moved to Auckland !
After the AGM we had a very late fast-food lunch , then popped into the Chalet (the ball venue) so Noah and I could have a peep at the decorations. Noah was restrained from touching the disco lights, came home and watched Lily and Hannah get their clothes and make-up on and go to the pre-ball. Noah's behaviour continued to be really good and the two babysitters (we thought two was safer as everyone we'd usually use was at the ball) said both him and Isaac were no trouble