Return to Killarney

The hubby, T and I first visited Killarney, a beautiful and painting-like part of Ontario during our Northern Ontario roadtrip in Summer 2020 and it lifted our spirits during the pandemic.

So it was wonderful to return, thanks to my Aunt who organized a getaway – and we packed a lot in from Friday afternoon to this Sunday morning.

A Saturday morning 2.5 km hike through the woods that had wild blueberry bushes along the trail, which we picked and nibbled on.

My cousin – T’s Uncle J – and I took T out canoeing on both days.

T and I swam at the resort pool and we all sat by the scenic docks where T enjoyed throwing rocks in the water.

He made friends with a boy and they spent time stalking and antagonizing a water snake.

Our group consisted of us three, my Aunt, T’s Uncle J, his partner and their dog, and my cousin, who has Down syndrome.

I’m blessed to have extended family – this one in particular, who I grew up with since I was T’s age – who is welcoming of T.

There were several challenging moments during the weekend – tantrums, rude language, perseverating over my cousin’s dog, who gets anxious around T’s hyper energy.

On Friday night, as we were eating dinner by the dock, we repeatedly told T to not play with a rope used to tie to boats. He didn’t listen and he slipped off the edge and feel into the cold water.

So the hubby and I let him sit in his cold wet clothes while we finished our dinner.


This morning, T knocked through four “STFUs” within the first 10 minutes of getting up, thankfully in our cabin with just the hubby and I – and I told him to stay inside to calm down before joining the group for breakfast in my aunt’s cabin.

While they don’t fully understand FASD, they ask questions now instead of offering advice (one of my pet peeves) – although my Aunt did call him a rude child when he was having a fit; a deserved and fair comment.

They also empathize because of my cousin, the other T, who also has a disability.

FASD and Down syndrome are night and day – my cousin is calm, whereas T is a firecracker loose in a store filled with TNT – but the need for support, advocacy, empathy and patience are similar.

T is also caring of my cousin T, often watching out for her and giving her hugs.

We always budget double the recommended time for a hike, because my cousin T is slow, whereas T zips ahead then circles back to get us.

These moments remind me every disability has their strengths and challenges – and to be thankful for our many blessings.

As we were packing up our cars this morning, my aunt remarked that we show a lot of patience with T and I said we’re not always so patient and there are many moments when we lose our shit.

I then said the trick is to do our best to focus on the positives – and there are many – because otherwise, you lose yourself in the weeds.

And it was a very lovely weekend.

My favorite memory was on Saturday night, the hubby and I borrowed two bikes from the resort and took T on his bike for a nearly hour-long sunset ride, zipping through quiet country roads and streets.

It was the first time we biked as a family – the first in years the hubby and I biked – and the first time T had so much freedom of space to explore.

He listened well to our instructions to always slow down and stop at every intersection – and no accidents or busted lips this time.

I later told the hubby that long past the disregulated moments, these happy memories are what we will all remember fondly.

32 thoughts on “Return to Killarney

  1. Your patience and insight are remarkable. Our grandson has ODD, and when he does the language and the “not listening,” it is very hard to keep calm. I applaud you and your hubby…

    1. Thanks Vickie. ODD is a hard one, especially in public, and we suspect T’s many diagnosis also includes ODD based on his exhibited behaviour. We are not always calm nor patient but they do go a long way indeed. 😊🙏

    1. Thanks Diane. It was a very nice spot, thanks to my Aunt for booking it. We hope to go back for a longer stay next summer.

      The wild blueberries was abundant and a nice surprise. I also spotted a small wild raspberry bush on the way out but it had 1 edible berry. Haha. Nature is amazing.

  2. The patience you show to T and the other T makes me feel I have not been that patient with others.Nice family weekend. I almost asked what “STFUs” are but google told me …!

    1. Haha. Gotta love Google! 😆 Rest assured I’m not always patient and often lose my cool. We are all human and raising kids with FASD often gets the best of us!

  3. It sounds like a great weekend – a beautiful location, surrounded by loved ones, some keen insights, and a growing sense of empathy and understanding from family. What a perfect getaway!

    I especially love your point on how every disability has their strengths and challenges. So often, talk of disability focuses on those challenges, but fails to highlight the strengths. T seems curious and eager to learn, headstrong, determined and persistent, creative, and comfortable speaking up. Some of the traits that may be challenging for YOU now may be T’s greatest strengths as he grow into a confident young man. 😆

    1. Thanks Erin. It was indeed a great weekend.

      I absolutely agree with you about looking at his challenges as strengths – I could definitely imagine him as a lawyer or a negotiator one day with the way he’s going. 😊

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful weekend in Killarney. How fun to even find wild blueberry bushes along the trail. Sorry to hear that T had some moments though, but it also sounds like he had some learning opportunities as well – like falling in the lake because he was playing with the rope and wasn’t listening. But as you said, it’s good to focus on the positives and happy memories.

    1. Thanks Linda. It was an amazing weekend. We didn’t hike Chikachising and did a more moderate trail because of my aunt and cousin but had fun nonetheless.

      Yes, those rough moments are rough but you only really remember the many more positive ones in the long run. 😊

      1. Glad to hear. It’s always nice to spend time in nature, and even better when you can share that experience with people you love. It’s funny how we have a way of erasing or minimizing some of the negatives from our memories, which is probably a good thing! Enjoy the rest of your week. We’re almost at the weekend!

  5. The more I follow your stories with T the more I think it’s not fair for people to judge children by how they behave, because some kids have challenges caused by conditions like FASD. And I know both you and your husband have tried really hard so that T can show the best of himself more than the bad. Judging is just not fair for the children and for the parents — although I know there are parents who are not as dedicated as you. Glad this excursion to Killarney turned out a really nice one!

    1. Thanks Bama! I appreciate the kind words of support. When I read the stories shared by other parents on the similar journey, it can be sad and sobering, because all the world often sees are the behaviors and with little understanding for the invisible disability that causes it. But all we can do is to share our stories in the hopes of raising awareness and empathy – one person at a time. 😊

      And really, it was a super fun and happy weekend and the good memories are what I really remember now all these days later.

      Have a great rest of your week!

  6. One of my favourite places. Glad you were able to go back with extended family. Your ability to focus on the positive is definitely what gets you out of the weeds every time, even if you get a little lost. It’s great that you are able to nurture this gift.

    1. Thanks Margie. It truly is beautiful place. And I appreciate the kind comment. The gift, as you call it, feels like a curse on some days. Haha. But we get through it a step at a time.

  7. I think it really helps others understand when they can ask questions to learn and grow. It feels awkward and like an intrusion sometimes but personally I know that I want to understand what I can do to help and respect a family dealing with disability so being able to ask in a comfortable and safe space with an honest answer is a huge deal so I truly appreciate that you are open to that Ab.

    That spot looks like a beautiful place to vacation 🙂

    1. Thanks Deb. I think trying to find common ground and to want to help are always good intentions and a good place to start!

      And yes, Killarney is beautiful. We are really blessed to have such amazing outdoor spaces that are relatively reasonable driving distances from home.

      Hope you have a nice week ahead!

  8. It sounds like a wonderful getaway! Being with people who are making the effort to understand and be supportive can make all the difference, right? Even though T had a few moments, I’m sure what he’ll remember is all of the fun he had with his family. ❤️

    1. Thank you. It was a really nice short weekend getaway. And yes, having family that understands, or tries to at least, makes a huge difference. All we remember now, on this Monday morning, are the fun moments such as our Saturday night biking adventure. 😊

  9. Family, nature, canoeing, and bike rides – that sounds pretty fantastic. I love your note that your family has learned to ask questions instead of provide advice. Just goes to show that we all can continue to learn regulation and patience for our entire lives! So glad you had a great weekend of memory making moments!

    1. Thanks Wynne. It was a good weekend indeed.

      And I know you’d understand how empathy makes such a difference because this parenting journey is already hard without the special needs layered on top.

      Hope you and the kids are having a great summer too (and I know you are from your photos)! Enjoy the week ahead.

  10. Wow, looks like exactly where I need to be! Glad you all had a great time & T made a new friend, cool🥰

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