This past Saturday our family ventured out to a local AMC theater for the sensory-friendly showing of Despicable Me 2. We even brought Hubz’s parents along for the ride. Originally, Hubz’s parents had offered to take the boys by themselves, but Tate can be a wildcard, so we decided that we should all go. It was a very enjoyable morning.
Tate has done the movie thing enough now to know the routine. We go through the big doors, buy our tickets by the glass, get popcorn and find a good seat. Tate was beyond thrilled that the movie was being shown in one of the big theaters. He chose seats front and center, right off of an aisle.
He played with my phone and munched on his popcorn as we waited for the show to start. As we sat and waiting for those 5 minutes, we noticed a boy walking around the theater. He would go down a few steps, or walk across the walk way and rhythmically pat his tummy. Step step step….pat pat pat. Step step step….pat pat pat. There was a very definite pattern to it. He wasn’t bothering anyone, aside from the few times he got a *little* too close to Tate’s popcorn, and Tate shooed him away. His mom apologized as she chased after him the one time. I shook my head as if to say, “no worries”. I smiled. I get it.
After the movie, which got double thumbs up from our boys, we all went to Red Robin. We were seated in a corner booth, and Tate arranged himself so he could have a view of every ceiling fan in the joint. He also had to have the end seat. It’s his thing.
We asked for some fries to tide us over as we waited for our meal. The waitress brought them out with our drinks. We have found that if we get Tate a little sample of what’s to come, he’s content and much less likely to get overwhelmed by anxiety about when food will arrive.
As Tate, Jake & Cole inhaled the fries, a mom and her two children were seated at the booth next to ours (behind Tate). They had been there for possibly 5 minutes when Cole announced that he had to use the facilities. As my four guys headed out of the booth, the little boy in the booth next to ours was flipping his knife. Just.like.Tate.
My mother-in-law leaned over with a smile. That looks familiar, doesn’t it? Yes, yes it does.
I applaud the mother in that booth. She ventured out to a restaurant by herself with her two kids. It was clear that she was overwhelmed. I know that look. It is a big deal to do that by one’s self. I get it.
The little boy was fidgeting and moving all over his seat. He was annoying his older sister. She started to whine. Knowing that her son needed a movement break, and knowing that she needed a few moments collect herself, she asked her daughter to walk the little boy over to the arcade games and entrance, where there was a tv in the floor. As her kids were preoccupied, she pulled out her phone and was clearly trying to catch up on email or Facebook or the Interwebz. She caught me looking at her. She got no judgement. She got no stink eyes. She got a smile and a nod. I get it.
My boys came back and we got our food. It was a blur of action for the next 10 minutes. And then…we were done. Cole was sitting under the table. Jake was playing with his french fries and asking if he could get new Beyblades (his go-to conversation when he’s bored and unsure of what to say). Tate was playing with Hubz’s phone and was starting to stim vocally.
We got the waitress’s attention and started to clear out. As we were finishing up, I was able to sneak a peak at our booth neighbors. Their food had arrived. The little girl was using her mom’s pen and was trying to do some of the puzzles on the kids’ menu as she ate her hamburger. The mom was pouring the lemonade from the Red Robin cup into his sippy cup. As she tightened the lid, her son flipped his corn dog the same way as he had been flipping the knife. He was playing a game on his mom’s phone. As she got a moment of peace as she nibbled a fry. She looked relieved to have that one moment. That split second of quiet in an otherwise chaotic day. I smiled in her direction because, well, I get it.