This post is for all of you out there who still worry about what other people think. If I did at all before today, I don’t anymore.
Put on your seatbelts; we’re in for a bumpy ride.
I have this great idea yesterday that I am going to take my boys, all three of them, to Jungle Playland. This is an indoor play area like a GIGANTIC McDonald’s area—tunnels, slides, climbing wall, obstacle course, video games and an under 3 area.
The bad news is that it is 1 hour away.
OK, so I ask my good friend Judy to join me with her two (NT) boys. Vinnie is 9 and Dominic is 7. They are happy to go, since they are the ones that have told us about it, and in our lovely Seattle summer weather full of rain and wind, inside is good for everyone.
We get up this morning and I prepare the kids.
Heavy work. Check.
Pull ups. Check.
Big Breakfast. Check.
Pack snacks (juice boxes, water, cheese sticks, fish crackers, crunchy granola bars and Diet Pepsi for mom). Check.
Pack Heavy Blanket. Check.
Extra Socks for Matthew (who won’t wear them, so when he loses them I need more). Check.
Assign Seats (Gabe in his own seat; Nick to share the backseat). Check.
Verify Movie Selection (Horton Hears A Who). Check.
In the van.
We load up our friends, who luckily live right around the corner, and we are off.
The kids are great. Watch a movie, play DS, chat amonst themselves—they did well.
Gabe was agitated most of the time, he hates the car seat after about 10 minutes, but the company was a good distraction--for me and him.
We arrive at Jungle Playland just as it opens. Perfect timing.
The kids play wonderfully, while we order pizza (only $8.50 for a medium pizza!) and get settled.
They all were having so much fun.
Then, other parents got in the mix.
I stood up and walked the 15 feet to the ball pit area where Gabriel had been playing for quite some time. I approached, took photos, and this young girl, maybe 20ish, said, “Is that your son?”
“He is not listening. He is being very rough with the smaller kids in here.”
“That’s probably because he is on the Autism Spectrum and doesn’t know how to be gentle.” I responded straight faced.
“What? I can’t hear you it is too loud in here.”
I called Gabriel over to me and gave him a gentle reminder that he needed to be more aware of his surroundings; younger kids (which there were a billion of) need more room around their bodies for safety.
Gabe gets out and plays somewhere else.
Then it is Matt’s turn.
Matt is insisting on climbing UP the three part “waterfall” slide. Ah, sorry bud, too much traffic for that.
I grab him and remove him about three or four times, when I hear the woman behind me say, “He is going to get hurt.”
“No he isn’t.” I say with a smile. “He is the youngest of three boys.”
I remove Matt again, and when I walk back the same woman jokes, “Can you tell I am the mom of a girl? And she is an only child?” She was very warm and nice. Isn’t that amazing? Really.
Bawling he comes over to me. Gabriel was feeling overwhelmed (not too shocking) and had hurt him. I didn’t get the details; I just calmed Nick down, gave him fish crackers and water and went to find Gabriel.
He came down the slide and sauntered over to me like things were peachy.
“I hear you are having problems with Nick.”
“Your body is way out of sorts. You are on mandatory 15 minutes of quiet time at the table.” I tell him—by his look giving it to him straight is the best choice.
I grab him, and hold him tight against me. I start rocking him, hold his legs up to his chest in front of both of him, all the while talking to him about when he was a baby. One of his favorite topics.
“Do you want me to sing to you?”
“I used to sing to you when you were a baby. Do you remember what songs we sang?” I continue as he is fighting to get free.
“We sang “I love you” the happy family song every night before you went to bed. Then we put you in your crib.”
He is OK now.
“I am hungry.” He says.
“I bet you are. Do you want some pizza now?”
“Is there something wrong with the pizza? Because it is either that or you have to wait until we get to the car for a snack and that might be too long to wait.”
“It is cold.”
“Ah, can I see if they will heat it up for you?”
I leave him in charge of watching the stuff at the table and walk up to the counter and a mere 30 seconds later I reappear with hot pizza. Microwave, I love you.
He eats them quickly and downs a bottle of water.
“You still have about 3 more minutes. How are you? Your body still seems high to me.” I tell him.
“I am a fine.” He insists, shoving the last bite in his mouth and trying to leave for the slides again.
“You don’t look fine to me. It is really loud in here and that is overwhelming for me. You seem like that is overwhelming you and you are too high.”
Here is where I missed; I let him choose.
“I am good.” He assures me and is gone.
One one-thousand, Two one-thousand, Three one-thousand.
Here comes Nick in tears again, only this time he has Gabe right behind him.
I grab Nick and pull him around the side of me while instructing Gabriel to sit down in the chair in front of me.
And that is when it happened.
Gabe reached for the OPEN bottle of water and held the bottle while he threw water all over the table next to us.
“Absolutely NOT.” I say to Gabriel.
He grabs a second and gives an unwelcome shower to the table next to that.
I jump to my feet and grab Gabriel to my body.
Dirty looks all around.
The lovely woman of one daughter next to me looks at me oddly.
“He is Autistic.” I say hoping for sympathy.
“Oh, no problem, can I help?” She says immediately.
This lovely lady retrieves towels and begins to clean up after my kid’s water episode as I am frantically picking up all of our things off the table and stacking up our trash—all the while holding Gabriel firmly under my arm to avoid any further (collateral) damage.
Here is to you “Mom of the Only Child Girl” for being an amazing parent, great person and for not judging me or my kids. You receive my "Stranger of the Day Award".
Judy is taking the time to round up the other boys, including Matthew, who apparently is wreaking havoc in his own way.
As my clean up goes on, I get approached by yet another woman, this one probably 22 with an 18 month old daughter on her hip attempting to get my attention.
“Your son is in the ball pit and he is throwing balls at people.”
“OK.” I say, totally not paying attention to her.
“I asked him to stop, but he isn’t.” She says with a tone of sincere concern.
“Oh, like he is three years old and doesn’t listen?” I say sarcastically.
“Yes, but I asked him nicely.” She says.
WHOLEY SHIT LADY!
You asked nicely? Why didn’t I think of that?
“I am trying to keep my Autistic son from having a meltdown and being dangerous. I will get Matt out of the balls in a second.” I say, avoiding all of the swear words that instantly came to mind. Which is pretty much a gift to her.
Judy wrangles Matthew with the level of skill that only moms of boys have.
I pick him up and lock him to me. He cries for candy as I maneuver him and Gabriel through the doors, with Nick, Vinnie, Dominic and Judy right behind.
In the van Gabriel gets his heavy blanket and eats a granola bar, juice box, bag of apples and cheese stick before we hit the highway.
I realize quickly that I am not at all embarrassed by what any of the people at the Playland did or did not think of me.
I do realize that I am a tad worried that Judy thinks we are crazier than she may have before our enjoyable outing.
That fear is immediately proven wrong. Judy is a true friend.
“No problem. It was time to leave anyway.” She says with a shrug.
I feel lucky to have a friend that has no judgment—
So Judy if you are reading this, THANK YOU for being a great friend! : ) You receive the “Friend of the Day Award”. If only these “Awards” of mine came with a prize… I will have to ponder that.
Now we are home.
Gabe has attacked Nick two more times and is currently pounding the walls in his room with his feet because he wants me to be clear on his decision NOT to sleep.
Now pass me a beer,