Everyone reading here is familiar with situations where things don’t exactly go as expected. We all know the meltdowns, the tantrums, the refusals, the body drops. We also know the joys and the triumphs when things exceed our expectations. We all want those big family moments that others take for granted, but we’re always afraid about what we are going to get. At least that’s my problem (yes, I’m projecting a bit, but I’m pretty confident that I’m right).
My whole family was overjoyed in February when the phone rang with news that my brother had proposed to his girlfriend. They were planning a wedding 8 months away (yup, do the math….October). He is my only sibling and he is nearly 8 years my junior. My 3 children are his only nieces and nephews. He and his fiancé invited Big Brother and Music Man to be the ring bearers and Ballerina to be a flower girl (along with two of the bride’s cousins) for their big event an 11 hour drive away. Like I said, he is my only sibling and I love him dearly. And I love and genuinely LIKE her. There was no question that I was going to accept.
But I’m an Autism Mom. I immediately started thinking about all the things that could go wrong. How was I going to get Music Man to wear a SUIT or a TUXEDO? How was I going to get Ballerina to sit still and behave for the quiet wedding that they were planning? And how were we going to get them up there and back in those long car rides (because we were definitely NOT going to fly)? I kept thinking about all the things that could go wrong. I wasn’t worried about Big Brother — he was getting an opportunity to be in the spotlight where he loves to be. He would be fine. But I spent 6 months thinking out strategies of preparing them for their wedding roles. I kept thinking about things to keep them busy in the car. I kept worrying about how I was going to get Music Man to be comfortable in clothes other than jeans or shorts and a t-shirt (I was giving in on the sneakers — kids [especially boys] can get away with that). And I worried about Ballerina’s behavior. Every time we had a chance to see her do something new, there were always problems and they weighed on my heart trying to think of how to make this the happy event that it needed to be.
But the time came. We had ordered boys suits, Ballerina had her pretty pink dress and we loaded up the car and headed to Indiana (first) to visit with Dad’s family. This was a 12.5 hour drive (with stops) and we went with food for lunch, movies for the car, iPhones and iPods galore and hoped that we had a smooth ride. And it WAS! We had no toileting issues (other than a refusal to use the very noisy public restroom [Autism parents have gotta love mandatory fans and automatic flushing toilets]). We had minimal traffic issues and were able to get these kids into the room without incident. At this point, we were worried that we had used up all of our good fortune on this first day and that we would be in trouble by the Sunday wedding.
But we were wrong. Our brief Indiana visit went well with a tour of some family-significant landmarks for a school project for Big Brother was followed by another 4 hours drive to get to the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. Things were a little whiny, but nothing too bad. We settled into the hotel and they were accommodating by giving us a ground floor room (Music Man doesn’t like elevators) and they were happy with the room we were assigned. And we were able to comfortably arrange the hotel room to suit the 5 of us. We settled in for the night, waiting for the wedding events to begin the following day.
The following day we went to the wedding rehearsal and the rehearsal dinner. They weren’t on their BEST behavior, but they were all right. We were able to anticipate what may cause them difficulty and started coming up with strategies to address those potential moments. But after all this good behavior, I was now terrified. The wedding was the following day……had we used up all of their good behavior?
The children arrived at the synagogue for the wedding early in the afternoon. In other words, it was time to put them in their wedding clothes. Big Brother couldn’t wait. He put on the suit so quickly and practiced being a respectable ring bearer. Ballerina also couldn’t wait. I put on her beautiful dress and she admired herself in the mirror. Then it was time for Music Man, the one I had my biggest concerns about. He did allow me to put his suit on, but he wouldn’t allow me to tuck it in. After several attempts, I just decided to leave it alone. Perhaps I would get it later. Perhaps not.
That was the best decision I could have made!
Because I didn’t force him to do something he wasn’t willing to do, he was less resistant the rest of the day. Yeah, he had to wear a tie, but it wasn’t at his neck. He had to wear a button down shirt, but it didn’t have to be tucked in. I think he knew I was letting him have a victory, so he was going to let me have some as well.
The wedding went well. There was a minor moment at the start, but it was resolved quickly and it’s not worth mentioning. And the reception……my children had more fun than ANYONE!!!! They were the life of the party!!!!! Big Brother and Ballerina spent the full time on the dance floor, only leaving when Dad or I insisted to get them some food, drink and bathroom breaks. Music Man realized after a while that he could dance on the dance floor and he joined in (but he wanted to take a break as it got too crowded). It was a beautiful day. It was an amazing event. And it’s something I don’t think I will EVER forget.
All of those stories that we hear about big events going badly…….yes, they do happen. They happen often. But sometimes, when you least expect it, things go REMARKABLY well!!!!!!!!