I thought it would be funny to reflect on Jude as a little boy. I focus so heavily on situations we face in the present day and despite not believing we should look back for answers to current questions, it’s pretty cool to reflect on the little toddler who captured so many hearts.
Elsa will kill me for this one!
Jude was born in Cambridge and spent the first few years of his life residing in a beautiful village just south of the city. He attended a nursery that he absolutely adored with staff who embraced him and his quirks and did everything they could to help him remain a part of the nursery community whilst supporting his quite apparent additional needs. It was here his first “wierdy” emerged in the form of never being able to step over an obvious line on the ground without holding someones hand. So for example, the garden had a paved section which led onto the grass and there was a thin line of drainage dividing the two. He would stand there for ages until a carer took his hand when he would then step confidently into the garden area. I remember often laughing with his Key Worker that we didn’t need to pay for childcare, we could just draw a line around Jude and he wouldn’t move a muscle! It was as basic as that. I could have drawn a circle of chalk around Jude and he wouldn’t move across it, he’d just rigidly stand there.
I often wondered if it was a visual problem – did he struggle to see if there was a disparity in ground level? He would never step off the curb so I didn’t have to worry about him wandering into a road but it was worry that even that short distance in drop was too much for him to take in one unaided step. I remember taking him for an eye test when he was four or five and it was a disaster. The guy literally didn’t have a clue what to do with this non-talking, borderline uncommunicative child. He tried to position toys around the room and asked Jude to point at specific ones but this was way too complex for him. Eventually they had to make do with photographic checks which showed up no problems at all. It’s still unknown if Jude’s vision is good. I don’t think he has a problem in seeing things as he can pretty much spot a lone Smartie from a mile off.
Now, we all know Jude loves his food but as a toddler he had his definite favourite meals one of which (when he was about two) he ate for several months in a row, refusing all other food. Beans on toast. Oh my goodness, I got so sick of making this every night for him! He would have tomato soup for lunch (still a massive favourite) and each day at nursery I’d be told how he had a few helpings more than everyone else. And of course, being the charmer that he was, he always managed to wangle additional snacks and bits and pieces from everyone there. Even now, Jude loves food. He doesn’t actually eat a huge amount in terms of volume but he could quite happily snack all day long and it isn’t uncommon for Jude to be bribed into action with the promise of some sort of treat or snack.
Books! Jude has always loved books. I read to him every night at bedtime from the day he was born and really hope I have forged a love of story telling and imagination within his mind. Jude, always one for loving a bit of familiarity, had his favourite books. I no longer need the words for the following:
Emily Brown and the Thing
The Tiger who came to tea
Tabby McTat (I love this one)
I’m sure there are others but these are firmly fixed in my mind. Thankfully, they’re pretty good stories but even still, I tried my best to suggest other stories but these were always requested.
Jude has an incredible sense of direction and it was a habit of his to shout out from his car seat when we were approaching a train station or level crossing (pretty usual around where we used to live). Even as a very young, non-verbal toddler you could tell Jude knew one was coming up as he’d stretch to look out the window of the car. Similarly, he could guide you places that you’d only been to a few times. I always got lost trying to find my way to the Children’s Centre but little two year Jude knew exactly how to navigate the corridors of Addenbrooke’s Hospital. It was really remarkable. Likewise, if you chose to go to a familiar destination an irregular way then he would become visibly rattled. It wouldn’t make him fall about crying but you could see the cogs whirring in his brain, wondering why you weren’t going the correct way!
I love looking back at Jude’s progression and seeing how he has moved on so much in life. He is an incredible, fascinating child who knows a lot more than he lets on. I find it sad that half his family have no positive input in his life but am grateful that he has some wonderful people around him, he’s a lucky boy. Granny! What would Jude do without his Granny?!