It’s Halloween and half-term, and that means it’s been a long but lovely day at work. In the afternoon at our Adventure Playground, the children gathered in a circle for juice and biscuits. I led a spooky game which was given an added twist by my tics.
As the children sat in the circle I assigned them all a character, either monster, wolf, bear or vampire. I then told a story about a walk in a wild wood. Each time I mentioned one of these characters, all the children in that group had to jump up and swap seats as quickly as they could. If I said, ‘And the wood woke up!’ everyone had to get up and run to a new place.
The story went a little like this:
‘Once upon a time I went for a walk in a wild wood. I turned the corner and there was a big BEAR. I ran away and just when I thought I was safe I came face to face with a “Hedgehog” and a wailing WOLF. But I wasn’t “Hedgehog” scared of the WOLF. It was the massive MONSTER “Hedgehog” lurking behind him that made me turn and flee – straight into the path of a “Hedgehog” and a VAMPIRE.
The wood was quiet with only the sound of “Eighty two hedgehogs” and the wind, but then THE WOOD WOKE UP. I ran back as fast as I could past the VAMPIRES, the MONSTERS, the WOLVES and the BEARS and “all the Hedgehogs”.
The children seemed to enjoy this game and my new tic, “Hedgehog”, fitted well with the story. A number of children decided to be the HEDGEHOGS and each time I ticced it they crawled as quickly as they could across the circle to find a new space.
This wasn’t the end of the woodland fun because later in the evening the Nature Garden hosted a Halloween event and transformed into an enchanted forest. We welcomed over a hundred children to explore the magical wood, gaze at the glowing greenhouse, hunt for gnomes and undertake a series of spell-binding challenges.
A year ago today I wrote with sadness and desperation about the layers of difficulty I was facing. I was afraid that my job, my independence and my quality of life were all at risk from my increasingly severe tics and the ‘ticcing fits’.
Tonight, as I sat helping children fish plastic spiders out of a bucket of water, those memories flittered through my mind. I’m so relieved I was wrong and so glad that I’ve had the support I need to continue doing the job I love.