My honey and I went on a date a few weeks ago. We laughed hysterically at Bridesmaids because we are very, very deep and proper people. Before the movie we ate dinner and popped in for a quick visit at Barnes & Noble to look around without the kids.
When we go places as a family chances are someone will be grumpy or tired or extra loud or hyper or poopy or hungry or want to be out of the stroller to run or want to be held by mommy and only mommy. (My poor tired arms.) It’s just basic life with three kids. So walking around a quiet bookstore, being quiet, standing for a moment breathing in and then, when I feel like it, breathing out, is heaven… no worries, no concerns, just quiet… peace… books and, oh, thoughts. Not problem solving. Not multi-tasking… honest to goodness thinking! That’s my favorite. (Did you know I have actual thoughts!?)
Please note: If you happen to live in Arizona and see a 30-something year old woman at your local store spinning with arms out, face toward the heavens and a calm smile on her face, perhaps one lone tear, come up and say hello! I swear I’m not creepy at all!
I kid, of course, but every parent loves a night to put the kid’s needs aside and just enjoy themselves. It is nice to not have to worry about sensory issues or what we’ll do for a snack, since we can’t find anything gluten-free and we’re at the verge of a “SOMEONE BETTER GET ME SOME FOOD ASAP” melt-down. I love being a mom, but only a lunatic wouldn’t welcome a break from the 24/7 grind. (No offense to lunatics reading this.)
While we were at BN, I ran upstairs to use the restroom and as usual there was a wait. There I stood, enjoying waiting without wrangling a little one, when I noted some lady holding a stall door closed. I didn’t really think anything of it, but then the toilet flushed and the lady opened door. Out of the stall came a kid, probably about 13 or 14 years old covering his ears. He was talking to himself, I’m sure repeating a bit from a movie or something. I smiled nicely when they walked by and continued waiting. The lady walked with him to the sink, he washed his hands, re-covered his ears and off they went.
My reaction surprised me. I would’ve thought I’d feel sorry for him, but instead I just felt angry. Why the hell did all these kids have autism!?!?!? No one would have known I was angry, but I felt it. I’m sure the ladies room is not where this 13 year old boy wanted to be… why did life have to be so hard for the these kids!? And why did his senses have to be bombarded?! Grrr! It made me so mad! Maybe it stuck out so much to me because it was in stark contrast to the casual, no-worries date. I guess I planned to mentally check-out of parenting, which by default meant putting autism on the back burner for the night, too.
But there it was.
Not too long ago I wasn’t sure where my son Drew was going to land on the spectrum and as far as I was concerned he could have easily been more classically autistic, like this boy. He seems to have developed to be high-functioning, with a few quirky little autistic traits with SPD. I’m not sure if it’s because of the therapy, his preschool or just getting older but I feel lucky. And then I felt guilty for feeling lucky.
Somehow I shook off my feelings (i.e. stuffed them down in an extremely unhealthy manner), went to the movie and laughed hard about wedding dress shopping. But that boy is still with me, reminding me that Autism is all around us, even when you’re not looking for it.