George on the Polar ExpressPublished Date: 28 Dec 2023
We took George and his half sibling, Theo, on the Polar Express train ride as a magical start to the festive season.
Before going to an event that I haven’t been to before, I always have a search on social media and YouTube for any vlogs so I can get a good idea of the setup. I came across a section for ‘guests with additional needs’ on their website which was really helpful with what to expect, even having a story explaining the experience in easy-to-understand terms – with and without symbols/pictures.
Being a sold-out event, it was busy! We weren’t allowed to take a pushchair, so carrying a toddler who wanted to be walking through busy crowds proved stressful. It was all a little overwhelming for George at first, so we decided to take his cochlear implants off until he calmed down.
Once on the train, he settled in really well as there were Christmas decorations and flashing lights which had him mesmerised. There were lots of singing and dancing up and down the corridor which George was loving, so I put just one of his cochlear implants back on as I thought it was still a little too loud for him. He did really well with the noise, even dancing to the music and laughing with the dancers!
I was particularly nervous for when Santa came around on the train to give each child the ‘First gift of Christmas’ – a bell. George doesn’t do very well with strangers, and although he was only a baby last year, I remember him crying at Santa! This Santa was absolutely brilliant, really authentic and he knew to not get in George’s face. While Santa chatted to me about whether George was on the naughty or nice list, he played with the bell with George as he was immediately drawn to it.
After a stressful start, George had a great time. I do believe that taking his ears off for some quiet time when things get loud and overwhelming, really does help him. Even with just one cochlear implant on, George was so tired afterwards that he fell asleep for the journey home, something he very rarely does!
I used to be so focused on ‘getting his listening hours up’ and constantly checking his Cochlear app to see if we had beat our goal. But as much as I want George to have all the listening hours I can give him, I have also learnt to take the pressure off and just go with the flow. If George is struggling with the noise or seems tired, I don’t hesitate to take his cochlear implants off anymore. George’s comfort and happiness means more than numbers on an app after all.