Thursday, August 21, 2014

Even Mama Ducks get confused in the rain.

When we travel, we each have our roles. It simply wouldn't work otherwise for us to gallivant around the country (and even the globe) with all our special needs. But Team Shrader has a system and from Phoenix to Starkville and even all the way to Argentina and London, the system has served us well.

My crew heading for Trafalgar Square!

My role is non-negotiable. I couldn't change my role if I wanted to. It is who I am and what I do. I herd. I corral. I bring up the rear to make sure there are no lost little ducklings. From the moment we brought three tiny babies home from the hospital, I have worn my Mama Duck hat with pride. I can count heads and put my eyes on my crew at fifty paces...and beyond. I snapped photos of my border collie skills all over London! They just make me smile.

Of course, I could smile bigger if my herding skills had not gone so terribly awry one evening. Terribly terribly awry.

London experienced rain every single day of our stay. Every single day. But for desert-dwellers, even rain is exciting so we didn't mind at all. Besides, we had timed it perfectly the entire trip. Only needing to walk in slight drizzly conditions, never an all-out downpour. Until our last night.

Parliament and Queen Elizabeth's Tower (housing Big Ben!).

After the cobblestones at the Tower of London were such a bear for the wheelchairs to navigate, we decided to re-think our trip to old Canterbury scheduled for Monday. We were getting mixed information about the accessibility of the town and the train tickets were going to cost the price of theater tickets to another show!

My crew barely thought about it for 15 minutes, another show? Yes, please. And so we booked more theater tickets and decided to use the free Monday exploring another park.

The gate at Buckingham Palace.

We dressed up and headed out for an early dinner, to be followed by our last theater show of the trip. The skies looked threatening but we were only mildly concerned.

Checking in with our tour guide Dad for directions!

Right up until the moment the skies opened up with very little warning! We rushed under a tree (another novelty for these desert dwellers) and hoped to wait it out. (In our experience, showers in London were short-lived.) When we realized we would have to walk in the storm if we were to make our dinner and theater obligations, we pulled out the ponchos and umbrellas and set off. 

Tower of London!

Darling Claire was pushing Mason and led the charge. Dad and Cate shared an umbrella in the middle, while I tried to protect Benjamin and his electronic wheelchair, under a big umbrella the hotel had lent us.

Leaving the Dr. Who museum involved lots and lots of walking to find an accessible tube station!

Reaching Trafalgar Square and the multiple cross-walks it took us to get to the point where our restaurant stood, I realized I couldn't see Claire and Mason anywhere. Not anywhere. Dad assured me they were at the restaurant already, probably getting us a table.

Westminster Abbey!

Except they weren't.

I am pretty sure I turned a violent shade of green. I knew the crowds at Trafalgar square were enormous. How could we have lost them? How would we ever find them? Wade took one look at my face, and said "Sit here with Benjamin and Cate. I will find them."

I was praying for them to not be scared. I was praying for ME to not be scared. I kept standing up to go find them myself....but Cate would look at me and say, "You can't leave us, Mama." And so I would sit back down.

What felt like hours -- but Wade assures me was mere minutes -- later, Wade came in and said he had found them.

Unfortunately, there were TWO restaurants in Trafalgar Square with the same name....they were getting us a table at the other one.

Mature teenagers taking charge of the situation. They got out of the rain and were even getting our table and ordering beverages.

I wanted to strangle them for their responsibility that took them out of my line of sight.

I wanted to hug them for not being lost -- and for being so responsible.

In the end, I just took a deep breath and ordered dinner. Fish and chips can solve any dilemma.

So, maybe I am not a good herder in the rain....or maybe I need to accept that three of my crew are growing up and need less and less herding from me.

Or maybe, just maybe (and oh, I like this option this best) I should turn around and head back to London to practice herding in the rain a bit more!! Who's with me??

Carol - The Blessings Counter