A family's story

A Walk in the Park

Yesterday I was feeling a bit overwhelmed as I rolled out of bed at 6:45. Tate’s therapist cancelled her morning session. I decided to do my workout that morning, before his other therapist came at noon. At 8:05, I had another text. The afternoon therapist was cancelling. What the *bleep* was I going to do with my three children ALL.DAY.LONG. A day without therapy. A day out of routine. A day without therapy, out of routine, and less than 2 weeks to go until school. It was a recipe for chaos, or well, more chaos than usual.

I took out my frustration as I followed Jillian Michaels on the TV. I had an audience of three. It was great. And by great, I mean, not. Jake would occasionally do one of the exercises and tell me how easy it was. Why are you sweating so much, Mom?! Tate kept trying to do planks right next to me..and each time, he cracked heads with me. Cole just tried to jump over me as I did plank moves. I was his human hurdle. Yeah.

As I cooled down after the workout, my phone rang. It was my friend, Em. I hadn’t heard from her in ages..and ironically, was thinking of checking in to see how they were doing. She asked if we had plans for the day. For once, we did not. She invited me and my chaos to join her and her chaos at a forest preserve not far from where we live. It was a gorgeous day, so I figured, why the heck not. At the very least, we could get some of our the boys’ energy out while at the park portion of the forest preserve.

Before the park, I had to stop at the boys’ elementary school. I had to reserve the school gym for Cub Scout Pack meetings for Hubz. We had to wait a while before I could talk to the admin. I was so proud of my boys. While they act like wild savages at home, they all sat down in the school office, grabbed some of the books, and began to read. Even Tate was reading a book. I thanked the Lord above for their amazeballs behavior during that half hour stint in the sticky, somewhat stale-smelling office.

After that excursion, we drove the half hour to the forest preserve. I am ashamed to admit that after living in this county for 13 years, I had never been to this particular location. We will definitely be going back. The boys had so much fun at the park, and there were so many more activities that they’ll enjoy–fishing, boating, walking trails, and a bike path. And it is fun that is NOT in front of the TV or computer.

Everyone had a buddy as we walked from the parking lot to the park. As we approached the park gate, Em and I unleashed our children in the park. It was very obvious which of the 7 children were special needs. Em’s oldest and her friend, as well as Cole, just went. They approached the various apparatus with gusto. They tried everything out that they knew they could handle. Jake, always filled with a little trepidation, tried things very slowly. The rock wall was almost a downfall for him–he was almost paralyzed with frustration, until I pointed out that he had scaled a much higher rock wall all the way to the top at Cub Scout camp. With that, he was up and over the wall. Tate and Em’s son were stimming. As Tate had to wait his turn, he flapped. Em’s son did a little stomp. Both were looking for sensory input from their siblings. Em’s middle daughter walked to and fro. She’s non-verbal and is starting to communicate with devices and gestures. She had to be prompted on the equipment. However, there was no mistaking the joy that each child felt. It’s just that, like with everything else in life, our kiddos were enjoying the park at their own pace.

Unlike the other moms with children our children’s ages, Em and I were on the playground the entire time. We were observing, we were coaching, we were hyper-alert.To say that the park wasn’t stressful would be a lie. But it was enjoyable. Quite enjoyable. Watching the smiles, hearing the squeals of joy, seeing the kids all interact. That was completely worth it.

After about 2 hours Tate was done. D.O.N.E., done. So was Em’s son. We chuckled at the fact that our sons were on the same wavelength–as always. Tate was able to tell me with words that he was finished and wanted to go home. Em’s son started to melt a bit…but was able to tell her “all done”. Both of us knew how huge these occurrences were for each other’s child. We said our goodbyes over the whining and pleading boys, and promised to carve out a coffee date once the kiddos were back in school.

So, even though there were some tough parts about going to the park, it was surprisingly easier than I had expected…because I was there with someone who lives this. Who didn’t need an explanation. Who doesn’t feel sorry for me or my kids. Who just totally gets when something goes from absolute fun to meltdown city in the blink of an eye. And there’s a lot of comfort in that. Yesterday was a walk in the park…kind of. And we did enjoy it.

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Comments on: "A Walk in the Park" (2)

  1. It is so great to be able to go out with other families who live this. I find the same comfort with some of my other autism mama friends. Glad you had fun! And btw- very impressive that you continued your workout with the audience- I would have used it as an excuse to give up. 😉

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