"Ice cream for the fam: $15 or so. Madagascar 3 soundtrack:$10. Dancing in the car with my babies on the way? Priceless. :-)" ~my Facebook status last night
It was a warm, sunny, spring evening. When you've already been to the park, you've had your dinner, and there's still plenty of sunshine before bedtime, what do you do?
Why you go and get ice cream, of course! And where there's a princess, there will be pink ice cream. And where there's a brother who doesn't like ice cream (I know!) there is annoying to be done. Well, there's also a lime-aid for said brother.
As we entered the store, however, I had another near-panic when I remembered one thing... we had to wait in line. I had been looking forward to this trip for the littles, because it's a rare treat... even a delicacy... in our family to get to stand at the counter and choose whatever flavor of ice cream you want. This was our Maelynn's first time to get to do this, and of course her choice was cherry chocolate chip, simply because it was pink.
On our way in the store, I remembered this little tidbit of useful information about standing in line as a group of about five teenagers walked in the store just ahead of us. Enter small panic attack.
Now this is something I did in this particular chain store growing up bunches of times. It was a treat, yes, especially when it was just mother and I living in OKC. But never something to talk about before hand. Waiting in line was just a little more time to stand there and look at the bright different colors of frozen goodness. More time to visit with mom.
For our family, in this family... a wait in line is a meltdown waiting to happen. It's practically chasing one down in the crowd and shouting, "Hey! Over here!"
The littles are easy. They were good and super excited to pick their treat. Ryan? He wiggled, giggled, and got so close to the folks we waited behind that it made me uncomfortable. It was like trying to force a puppy to wait in line. Only this was a rather large puppy with opposable thumbs. He grasped the top of the ice cream freezer window/sneezeguard thing and tried with all his might to jump... I'm not sure if he was headed over or on top or if he was just trying to see, or maybe how high he could jump?
As I watched him, I fought the urge to cut and run. The noises in there, after all, would surely set him off soon. I never thought about it before, but a place like this has a lot to take in! Lots of blenders whirring, machines running, people around and about. I could not believe that I didn't think of this.
It was close to the time we paid for our cones when I realized, as a dad in the family behind us obviously stared at Ryan in his stimmy, happy world... we're just going to have to get used to some staring.
This dad wasn't trying to be rude. I don't think he was disapproving, but he and the boy in front of us in line had apparently not experienced someone like Ryan. And the truth is, no matter how used all his behaviors that I am, no matter how much I advocate, we will be stared at.
Here's the best part of this... it didn't bother me. Finally. Granted, I truly believe these were stares of awe and maybe interest at something they'd never seen. But every stare used to hurt. I was ready to explain if someone happened to be interested enough to ask, but no one did. Even the sweet teenage girl who Ryan sidled up to, saying, "Hi there, lil' fella!" She smiled, she responded, but she didn't ask. Which is fine.
Asking would have been fine, too... but only if she wanted to know.
If you do ever just want to know, just to learn, not as an opening to share your opinion, it's fine to ask... and here are some good starter questions. Lisa at AutismWonderland posted 10 Questions You Should Not be Afraid to Ask an Autism Parent. Good starters.
But frankly, I am thankful that we didn't think about how hard waiting in line could be. I'm glad, for once, that we just got excited and went.
And I must thank the Lord for the peace and security to not be ruffled by the stares. At least not this time.
And most certainly, thanks be to God for ice cream, little kids, and warm spring days; for they make the most cautious, practiced, routine mama in me remember what it's like to be a little carefree.