So we do crazy stuff with our kids. We've always taken them along to everything we do, at any time in any place and we've decided to do the same with Frankie too - no matter what. Personally, in my saga to prove a point, I've always faced the chance of the experience falling apart rather than avoiding it because of Frankie being in the spectrum. Granted, sometimes we have failed but we would rather say that we've tried and failed than to have missed the chance for our kids to experience life. Now, there is a fine line between taking a plunge "cold turkey" style and simply not being "prepared" for it. I learned the difference last Saturday, thanks to my new friend "Teacher Erin."
We were invited to celebrate the 4th of July with our new friend and her family in a very different way than we had had done it in the past. We were going to a demolition derby with fireworks at the end. OK, that was a new thing and we always, always, always go for the new stuff, for sure. I figured the boys like cars, races and all things boyish so we can't go wrong with that - now, Rebecca might attend under protest but thank God Erin has a daughter who is Rebecca's age so those two could cancel each other out together! The plan was finalized and we were on our way to tons of fun, noise and fireworks. Did I mention noise? Yes, it did raise a flag in the back on my head that it might be a little noisy for the kids but I dismissed it right away. I deemed my "flag" to be a form of panic for the infamous "sensory" word that's always dangling on top of my head when I think of Autism. I don't believe Frankie has any sensory issues at this time but there is always the fear that one day I would find out he does. Well, after witnessing the kind of noise in this place, I think ANY three year old would develop sensory issues there!
There I was, at the stadium, hugging my three year old who in turn was covering his ears with both hands just as "The Beast" - a supersonic aerodynamic race car- almost broke the sound barrier as an opening to the show. All the stories, all the You Tube videos we watched, all the talks before the event went to waste once the noise started. The noise. Why didn't I think of fixing that BEFORE we got there. I know why. Because using anything (and I mean anything) as a crutch to help my kid is like failing to me. I know it's dumb because I don't have any issues with life vests in the pool or training wheels in a bicycle but I see those as a means to an end. Providing Frankie with "accessories" to cope is something that I dismiss immediately, almost always not as a conscious decision. I know I can be very stupid when it comes to missing the "fine line" between being tough and just plain ignorant...Luckily, there is always an angel in my path and Ms Erin came to my rescue!
During those long five minutes I spent holding Frankie and trying to figure out if I should call it a day and get back to the van, I noticed Erin asking her sister to go to the store at the stadium to get us some ear plugs for Frankie. Ear plugs...what a concept! Then she explained there were not only ear plugs, she was getting him BIG ear muffs and that he should be OK with them on...boy, she was not kidding. Ten minutes and $13 later I felt like volunteering for one of those Master Card commercials. The words out of my mouth when I saw the "magical" big, black ear muffs was: Priceless! Yes, priceless is the opportunity to have my kids enjoy something new without fear. Priceless is to turn a scary situation into an awesome experience. Priceless is a friend who helps you without judging you. Priceless is a lesson learned and never to be forgotten. I have learned that I don't have to be tough on my kids all the time for all things....sometimes, it's OK to let them use training wheels...indefinitely.
By the way, Victor didn't want any "ear muffs" and Rebecca actually had a good time with Robyn. I guess things do have a way to work out!