Last week my beautiful mom had knee replacement surgery. I was unable to be with her the day of her surgery and felt horrible about it. One of the downsides to living in two different states. *sigh* After she made it to her recovery room I received a phone call from her (she was still heavily medicated thanks to the anesthesia and pain medicine), it was full of giggles and phrases like “I know your a daddy’s girl but you will always be my baby girl ” and “Love you’s”. She was just letting me know that she was still alive and well and that the surgery was a complete success. Guess even medicated she knew I needed to hear her voice telling me she was okay. Thanks momma. But I still needed to see her with my own eyes to “make sure” she really was okay. So I told my husband I was headed home for a quick visit last Saturday.
As I planned my day trip my six year old asked if he could ride along. Traveling is rough on him but there was no way I was telling him he could not go. His sad puppy dog looking eyes get me every time.
Traveling with kids never goes as planned. Traveling with a son who is autistic always comes with its adventures. This trip was no exception.
Our plan was to get up early and be on the road by 6am. We would fill the day with visits. First we would stop and see a friend who had also had surgery, hers was on her shoulder, next we would go see mom, swing by a baby shower and drop a gift off, seeing mom would be in no shape to go to said shower, and lastly have dinner with my best friend and her family before heading home. Seemed like a realistic day. The night before I packed his two backpacks: one with extra clothes for him just in case we needed them and one with his treasures, this included two tablets, his dads backup phone,cars, puzzle pieces, a notebook, a pen, his hat, sunglasses, and some toy pirate coins. I also packed him a snack bag that contained his favorite chips, popcorn, and juices. We would be gone for less than a day but we were packed for a week long vacation. We were all set for the next day.
Well we were until my son who never sleeps past 5:30 slept till 7:30. Now I could have just set out at 6 like I planned but then my husband would have had to deal with the tornado that would have been our son when he realized mom went without him. And seeing that my husband was keeping all the kiddos that would have made for a very bad day. So I waited until he woke up. We were on the road by 8:15. Running a little behind my schedule but still we could manage to get everything in.
That is until we hit the tunnels. We have to travel through two tunnels in order for us to get back to WV. I never thought much of the tunnels until wild man came into our lives. The lighting and the noise that comes with going through a tunnel can set his system into sensory overload. I handed him his sunglasses, they help him with the glare from the lights, and told him to lay his head down. It worked the first time. But the second tunnel was a different story. When we arrived at the second tunnel he was in the middle of playing a racecar game on his tablet. He did not hear me, or he decided not to listen me, when I told him it was time to put on his sunglasses. The moment we were inside he started screaming. The lights were to much and the motion of us passing them made his stomach upset. By the time we made it through he was sick and throwing his head against the window to made the lights stop moving. I got the car pulled over and climbed in the backseat with him before he got sick. We sat until he was calm enough to get out and walk. Lucky for us you can find a Walmart just about anywhere. He loves Walmart. So I get back into the driver seat and we make our way down the road a few miles to his favorite store. There I parked the car and took my little guy in so he could walk around without cars flying past us. The Walmart detour took a little over and hour and cost me over hundred dollars (hey he needed a few things for school why not get them while we were there?)
As we walked the aisles of Walmart my sweet boy made many friends along the way. He introduced himself to everyone we walked by or asked, “Hey hey what’s you name?” or “Hey hey I like you let’s be friends.” Many of the passerby offered up their names with a warm smile, some even gave him Hi-fives. But there is also the other side that shake their heads, or look annoyed just by his presence, and theirs always at least one person who tells me to control my son that he is a) being to loud, b) that he needs to respect people’s person space, c) or that he is being disruptive and I need to make him stop or my favorite d) I would never allow my child to behave that way. It never fails. I am so thankful my son does not process what others think about him the way I do. He is always just so happy in the moment.
After he was feeling better and I knew he would not vomit all over my husbands car we are back in the car and head towards our destination.
We were about an hour out when I called my mom to see if she was still at the hospital or if she was discharged and home. She informed me she was still in the hospital but they were getting ready to discharge her. Have you ever waited to be discharged from a hospital?? Let’s just say What should have been simple turned into an all day ordeal. By the time my sweet momma actually made it home it was after 3pm. Visiting my friend who had shoulder surgery was not going to happen and as for the baby shower I missed it completely, we did drop the gifts off at the mommy-to-be’s mothers house so at least she got them.
Before we knew it, it was time to go home. Wild man was not ready to go home however. He had a meltdown. I tried to calm him down with a frosty but even that didn’t work. There was no way he would be able to stay seated in an overly crowded restaurant if I meet up with my friend and her family for dinner. So I text her and told her I was sorry we would not be making it.
We started to trip home and he settled in to a video game, this time Minecraft, he was still upset but at least he was in his car seat and he could not reach me to kick me or hit me. All was going well until we reached the tunnels again. This time a truck had broke down inside one of them and traffics was crawling through the only open lane. It scared him so bad to have to sit inside the tunnel as we moved only inches over the next 40 minutes. Finally we could see the end and we were out.
After that we had to stop and get out of the car. Three straight hours in his seat had taken its toll on him. When we stopped he proudly announced he had to pee. I found a gas station and we went in so he could do just that. We loaded back in the car with a fresh juice, bag of popcorn and a fully charged tablet. We should be able to make it home without stopping again.
Ten miles down the road I hear, “Momma Are we there yet? I need to poop.” Words I did not want to hear. See my sweet boy has this thing, he only poops at home. He only poops at home in our downstairs bathroom. Nowhere else. Ever. He will hold it for days if he has to, but the smell coming up front told me I didn’t have days or even hours. I told him I could stop at rest area or another gas station but it was a no go. He screamed and cried for the next 45 minutes and I was helpless. There was nothing I could do but get us home as fast as I could. I may have driven a little over the speed limit. Maybe just a little. I was never so happy to see my driveway. I pulled in the garage as my husband opened up the door to the house. I ran around the car and unlocked his safety belt and off he went. I yelled over to my husband Watch out he has to go! as wild man ran passed him. He made it, barely but he made it.
Many would not consider this trip a success, but I do. True we didn’t get everything done or see everyone like I planned. But that’s okay. I think sometimes God placed wild man with me to remove some of my OCD qualities. With him we just have to roll with it. Autism is hard, but we are learning more and more everyday. There are days I wish I could get off this carousel ride of emotions and just go back to a time before we knew he was autistic. But that’s not possible. So I am learning as I go. I am learning there are those who will go out of their way to be nice to a six year old they don’t even know just to make his day. I’m learning that there are no such thing as schedules or preplanned evenings. I am learning some people will accept him and others will always judge him. I am learning to be a best person because of him. He loves freely and judges not. His life is simple. And I am blessed to get a front row seat. In his darkest parts of the day in the middle of a meltdown or while he screaming because the house bathroom is so far away, I will be there to love him and get him through it. I will do whatever it takes to make his life better for he has surely blessed mine.