A family's story

Last Thursday was Jake’s birthday. He had a terrific day. We got him some Beyblades and a couple of books. I sent out the invitations to his birthday party in a few weeks, too. That night, we had cupcakes and cookies from our village’s old school bakery. We had planned on going to see Hotel Transylvania with the family on Friday afternoon. Things were looking good.

Friday morning dawned chilly, but clear. Hubz had gotten up at 4:30 (yes, you read that correctly) with Tate and Jake. They were hanging out in the basement. Hubz took them to get coffee, donuts and bagels from Dunkin. Oh, how I love that man. Anywho, Jake had his psychiatrist visit that morning bright and early. We had to discuss the meds and how they were working. I waited for my boys to get home from the “bagel store”.

Hubz came in, handed me a delicious pumpkin coffee, and a bagel. He looked a little frazzled. Jake started rambling about the fact that he didn’t want to go see the movie. Here we go again… Hubz told him to relax and to eat his breakfast. We ate, and then Jake and I were on our way. Jake was playing the new Bad Piggies game from the makers of Angry Birds in the backseat. Quite suddenly, he threw my phone up to the front and said he felt sick. I asked if I needed to pull over. He said no. I asked what the problem was, and he started to ramble about the movie. I told him if it was making him sick with anxiety, it wasn’t worth it, and we’d figure out another family activity.

Jake was quite well behaved at our visit. He told the doctor that the meds were making his brain, “not so crazy”. He said they helped him “do stuff right at school”. The doctor asked Jake if he felt more focused, and he said he did. He could “listen better”. I talked to the doctor about the fact that the meds seem to wear off by 5. I noticed that Jake struggled the prior week in religious ed, which goes until 5:30. He wrote a script for a booster, and we’re going to see if that helps on Mondays. See, Mondays are insanely busy for Jake. He has school, then religious ed, and finally social group. Eeek!

Jake mentioned to the doctor that he didn’t want to go see Hotel Transylvania. The doctor asked him why. Jake said it was too loud and made his ears hurt. He suggested ear plugs, but Jake shook his head “no”. I told the doctor that he often gets panicky before a movie, but eventually is fine. The doctor asked Jake if there were any other reasons, but Jake said no. It was clear that he didn’t want to discuss it anymore, though.

Once home, Hubz and I asked Jake what he really wanted to do to celebrate his birthday. Jake asked if we could go bowling. Bowling?! Ermmmmm…..well, we certainly could try it. I was nervous about Tate. How would he handle the noise, the crashing, the whirring, the smells. Hubz said we could always leave if it became too much. With that, we decided to go bowling. Hubz found a “deal” that allowed us to bowl for 2 hours, and each person got shoes, a drink and fries for a reasonable amount of money.

We headed to the bowling alley around 2:45. Jake was almost jumping out of his skin out of excitement. Tate was feeding off of the excitement..he couldn’t wait to go bowling with Jake. He was scripting one of his Max & Ruby scripts. It’s one he does when he’s very happy. Cole is up for any game that involves a ball, so he chatted happily in the backseat with his brothers.

We set up our family on lane 10. Jake input our names into the computer to keep score. He was a pro, you know, because he had gone bowling at that alley back in the summer with his camp. I mentioned that “back in the day” we had to use paper and pencils and DO MATH to keep score. Jake looked at me like I had 3 heads. Then, I was impressed…all 3 boys were willing to put on the bowling shoes. We did that with little fan fare. Choosing a ball, however, was a little more, um, crazy. Our 3 boys ran up and down the bowling alley hooting and hollering. Tate wanted a red ball, Cole a green one, and Jake a blue. We were able to fulfill Tate and Jake’s requests, but Cole had to settle for a reddish-orange ball.

Our bowling alley was quite impressive. We could input on the computer which players needed “bumpers” and they automatically rose up and came down for those of us who didn’t need them. We started to play. The kids had a blast..although, I thought FOR SURE that Tate was going to pull a cartoon drop-thud-crash-hole-in-the-floor. Goodness, that child doesn’t know his own strength!! Luckily, we requested a ball roller, and the boys could roll the ball down the ramp-thing. They  had a great time taking turns, cheering each other on, and choosing which ball to roll down the alley.

Our first game went fast. Jake got 2 strikes and a spare, and ended up with a score of 99. Tate and Cole did well, ending up in the 50’s. Hubz and I did not use bumpers or the ball roller. I got 117. Hubz got a 45. (Insert giggle.) Our next game seemed to take longer. I am not sure if it was due to our snacking or chasing Cole as he bolted for the vending machine, or what, but we really dragged that one out. We had fun, and no one was grumbling, it just took longer. The kids were getting tired. We had about 20 minutes left of bowling. We played about 4 frames of a third game, by which it was quite obvious that all of us, except Hubz, were done. Hubz was on a roll, getting 2 strikes and a spare. I was the gutterball girl that game. Yeesh. Jake was doing the bowling for himself and his brothers. But we ended on a pleasant note.

Of course, the bowling alley had an arcade-type set-up, too. We spent $5 and let the boys play a few games. The racked up enough tickets to earn Jake 2 plastic whales and 3 tootsie rolls. He shared the tootsie rolls, but wasn’t so keen on sharing those whales! After we were done there, we made our way to Red Robin for dinner. All they had was a booth, but luckily the booth offered a view of TWO ceiling fans. Tate was in heaven. The boys ate quite well. Hubz and I were able to eat our own dinners while they were still warm. I know!!! Crazy, right?!

We wrapped up our meal, and made our way outside. Once we had all 3 boys strapped into the van, we sat down and sighed. Hubz turned to me and said, “All in all, that was quite an enjoyable afternoon!” I agreed. It really had been a terrific family outing. Hubz and I caught each other’s eyes and he said, “So, is this what normal feels like?!” I have to say, that yes, that our afternoon was as close to “typical” as we get.

Our boys were all regulated, jovial, and in great spirits on Friday while we were out and about. We didn’t have any meltdowns or problems. No one struggled with sensory issues or participation in the activities. However, once we got home, we had a little whining and writhing on the floor. Tate chewed on a playdoh toy so hard that he broke it, and Cole threw a tantrum because Jake wouldn’t share his Beyblades. Jake had a meltdown because his brothers were following him around. So, yeah, it kind of fell apart later…but for those few hours, our family was able to enjoy time together and truly enjoy EACH OTHER. And I’d say that’s a victory…and gives me hope for some outings in our future.

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Comments on: "Is this what “normal” feels like?" (5)

  1. Hooray for “normal”! You know I get this one!

  2. In reality? Who has “normal”?! This was a fantastic afternoon! Groupon has a deal for a bowling alley here. I had no idea bumpers and a ball roller were things that could be used (obviously I’m not an experienced bowler!) Your experience is inspiring me to give it a try! Happy Birthday again to Jake! Movies -schmovies – bowling sounded like a lot of fun! 🙂

    • I think that bowling was a MUCH better idea for us. If you can get the bumpers, I think it is a great idea…and it is very easy to bail if things go south. Also, call ahead to check about leagues…go when there are none, so it’s nice and quiet and not busy. Friday afternoon at 3:30 was super quiet!

  3. […] with my son … Living on the Spectrum: The Connor Chronicles … … See more here: Is this what “normal” feels like? « Between Hope and a Hard Place ← Recommended Toys for Children With Autism Pitt Loses $9 Million Grant for Autism […]

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