We visit Tring Museum quite a lot. It’s hard to answer the welcoming ‘have you been here before?’ in a neutral tone. Oh yes, we’ve been here before and we have a very set routine.
First phase – visit the gift shop. Unfortunately Ellen is very keen on the display of plastic animals that they sell there and today she bought the white tiger.
‘Oh you must have quite a collection of these at home’ says the sales assistant, presumably recognising us from our previous excursions.
‘We’ve got elephant, orange tiger, lion, rhino, giraffe, zebra and hippo…’ chants Ellen.
‘We must get a few more in then and stock up’ smiles the sales assitant.
‘Please don’t’ I reply, thinking of the groaning shelves back at home.
Second phase. A very slow and detailed walk around the galleries, with Ellen pointing out all the creatures of interest to her new purchase, in this case, white tiger.
But today I’m going to disrupt this routine and throw a curve ball into Ellen’s familiar pattern. In RDI speak this is called ‘same but different’. We’re doing the same thing that we normally do, but changing it ever so slightly. The aim is to slowly build Ellen’s resilliance and help her cope more easily with the inevitable fluctuations of daily living.
So, ‘Let’s draw our favourite animal’ I say.
‘I don’t think so’ replies Ellen in a sing-song voice, deep in conversation with her white tiger about his friend orange tiger.
Undeterred I set up the stools by the tigers, get out the paper and pencils and I wait. This is the beauty of RDI. I have learned that simply waiting is a powerful tool. After only a few seconds and without any further argument, Ellen comes and sits down. After a little bit of time positioning white tiger, Ellen gets to work drawing the orange tiger. I am instructed to draw the Jaguar, which I can only half see due to the glass partitioning. It is the experience not the end result, I chant internally, flushing when passing visitors curiously peer over my shoulder to look and then veer away as if physically repelled by my amateurish scribblings.
This is Ellen’s drawing (I’m afraid ‘Jaguar with partition’ is not on display at this moment in time).
I know I’m biased, but I love it.