Friday, February 10, 2012

Tales of TMEA... Day 3

Let's see... last night, I left you with napping babies, and the promise of a better time at dinner.  We did have a good nap time, and the kids were precious after naps.  We've figured out that if Eric texts from the entrance to Macy's, we can be primed at the window to watch and wave when we see Daddy.  Precious!  Richie waves with all he's got, and hollers "Hiiii, Daddeeeee!"  Maelynn waves too, and Ryan stims at the sight of his favorite hero.  I gotta say, I love seeing my hero coming too.  ;-)

We had planned on a nice big treat dinner out.  Richie reached for a display of crab legs at HEB last week, and told me he wanted to eat them.  Alrighty, son.  We'll see what we can do.  So we called a certain casual seafood restaurant *ahem* not once but twice, asking if we could please put our name on the list. Long story short, someone was less than honest with us, and a wait of 25-30 minutes was ahead of us.  Not happenin' with this crew, sorry folks.  Moving on down the Riverwalk, we made the best discovery! A neighborhood Irish pub type-place with NO WAIT... oh yeah.  Eric and I had some awesome more traditional Irish fare which was absolutely lovely, and the kids had a nice hot dog, burger, chips, that kind of thing.  At one point, we were serenaded by a mariachi group!  Only in San Antonio can you eat corned beef and cabbage while listening to live mariachi.  Gotta love it here.

The best part of dinner... ah, to me, it was the food and atmosphere.  I asked Richie later, and he said "the food!"  The most hilarious part, other than the mariachi itself in an Irish pub, was when the band entered the restaurant.  We were seated close to the door, with Ryan beside me, facing the door.  When the mariachi group entered, Ryan popped up on the booth seat on his knees, protector arm flying in front onf my chest, and hollered (and I mean HOLLERED) "Stay back!  Stay calm!" Very dramatic, very commanding, my son.

Yes, I know a lot of people throw around "lol" these days. But we literally LOL'ed.  If nothing else, we love the innocent lack of inhibition at times.  I bet he really was thinking I was about to flip, because he would.  I tried taking some pictures, but they were all quite dark. We had an absolutely fabulous time!  And a great walk back to the hotel, then an easy bedtime.

This morning, the kids slept in until 8:30!!!  You saw that correctly!  I woke up closer to 8, but laid there as quietly as I could.  The plan was to get them up, fed, dressed, all quite leisurely as we watched some PBS, then go to the Rivercenter Mall.  Just to the Disney store, for our Minnie Mouse fanatic.  Only a couple minor meltdowns until we left, although that's due in part to my realizing this wasn't gonna fly if I didn't pick him up.  So the big guy rode Mommy's shoulders the whole time.  He got a Fillmore... the hippie van from Cars, and Richie got a yellow Mater.  Maelynn had a great time doing some birthday money shopping, and we headed back.

Now comes the complete, no holds barred, head-smacking, meltdown you've been expecting.  He wanted the brown elevator.  I have no idea where this is.  I have no idea if he'd have stopped if I took him there, though I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have.  There's where the difference in "meltdown" and "tantrum" come in.  This is not a means to an end.  We do not give in just because a child of ours cries.  We don't.  We know better.  He doesn't get what he wants for screaming, and to my knowledge, hasn't.  He just got to where he could not take any more sound, visual stimuli, and needed out.  Since he can't express that, and because I wasn't taking him where he thought he should get to go, we walk through the mall, holding on tightly to him, repeating "calm down.  It's okay."  One of the worst parts of that is I'm not even sure he hears it. Nothing I say helps.  No tone of voice is more helpful than the other.  Outside the mall, when he kept hitting himself in the head with his fists, I had to hold his hands.  Of course, he wasn't happy with this.

I won't lie.  I am grateful for my kids, and I do my dead-level best to see the bright side.  The alternative is unacceptable to me.  But sometimes it just hurts.  Richie and Maelynn have their usual little-kid hangups and issues, but they can enjoy things with no major side effects.  Maelynn said "Wow" in her breathy, sweet voice, eyes wide, when we entered the convention hall for the first time.  Richie points and learns about new things, shouting "Oh boy!" when he sees something exciting.  Ryan jumps and stims at best, and may point a little.  But mostly it's torture to him to do some of the things I so desperately want to do.  The Baylor Wind Ensemble played last night.  I was sad but grateful that morning because Eric was staying with us, for sure.  No concert for him.  Then when I saw last night what they played... a piece he rearranged for our wedding... I cried.  Then I turned to him and pointed at the facebook post that revealed it, and he said simply, "I knew.  But I wanted to be with you guys.  I knew you needed me."

Wow.  What a guy.

I never tell these stories because I want sympathy.  Your encouragement is very much appreciated and I love it, but for the most, I want those who have these same experiences to know someone gets it.  For the rest of you, I hope that you reach out to someone who needs that kind of understanding.  The truth is it's hard sometimes to remember that we have the world, simply because our nose is touching it.  It's true!  I'm sure you're wearing long sleeves right now.  Stick your nose on your arm.

Come on, no one's watching.

What do you see?  Okay, back up a touch.  You see stitching, I bet.  But until you back up and look at the whole of the garment, you cannot appreciate its beauty or worth.  Often I come to the computer needing to refocus... to grab these frustrating times by the horns and wrestle them, past the anger, the hurt, and the fear... to the point where I can see the bigger picture.  The bigger picture is that by taking Ryan out in these social situations we are exposing him to the world in which he will live.  I could go on and on about the lessons that all of us in the family learn when we step outside the hotel.  To tell the truth, I was so scared to leave the room yesterday that Eric came back from his 8:00 clinic to find me still in my jammies. He basically had to talk me out.

Guess what?

It blew up in our faces.

Guess what else?  Before it blew up, I got to see some awesome people I never get to see.  The kids got practice meeting people.   Yes, the tires blew, the wheels flew off, the whole thing exploded after that, but I'm glad we did it.  We lived through it.  I'm not sure we did anyone else any good, and this morning I'm not sure either.  But you have to live.  There are things you can choose and things you can't choose.  I can't choose to delete Autism and its frustrations from my life.  Ryan is who God made him to be, and we have to help him be him, and at the same time, help him understand us.  But it is so scary!  Honestly, sometimes I don't think I have the mental or emotional energy to try again.  Sometimes it's in Ryan's and our best interest not to do something again... I didn't take him to the convention center again today.  We tried something different.  The thing that I hope I don't lose is just that... WE TRIED.   Honestly, I came close to packing up and going home.  But we tried, because this is important to us.  We tried again, this morning, though a little differently.  It went much the same way.  But someday it won't.  Someday we'll re-read these posts, and be amazed at where we were... where we all were... and how far we've come.

How far God has carried us.

We're trying again tonight.  It's crazy.  It's at 9:30 at night, and I wasn't going to go.  But then I got the email from the dean of the school of music at my alma mater... the reunion is an ice cream social this year.  Ryan's been asking for ice cream.  So the kids have napped, we'll eat dinner early, come back and play, then head out later than we'd normally put them to bed.  We may make it for twenty minutes.  We may not make it over there.  We may be there for an hour!  But we'll never know if we don't try.

And mega-thanks to the husband who said, knowing that they all happen at the same time in different places, "Honey, no worries about the Baylor reunion.  You never get to go to yours.  Would you like to go to the Hardin-Simmons reunion?  I'll watch the kids if you want."  But no, we'll all go.  Because we are a matched set.  Because who I am right now is so wrapped up in who they are... and I am so proud of them.  So here we go again!  Why?  Because it's life, and we live it.  Those who love us will love us still, no matter what happens.  Those who don't, well... that's okay.

So do not fear, for I am with you; 
   do not be dismayed, for I am your God. 
will strengthen you and help you; 
   I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

~Isaiah 41:10

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