Monday, July 8, 2013

The Wonderful, Imperfect Holiday

Last week's holiday, just like every other holiday, can be more frantic and terrifying for the one kid and frustrating and disappointing for us than anything.  Loud noises don't bother Ryan as they do so many other kids on the spectrum.  Honestly, candles scare him more than fireworks.

I know.  I haven't figured that one out either.

Rational or not, that's the way it is.  Changes in routine cause the nasty ripple effect of meltdowns, and that's just the beginning.  We almost never participate in community events.  There are too many things that he's used to that become variables.  If you think about it, you know what I mean.  The park was a big one.  So many community things happen at the city park.  Our city park is on the outskirts of town, and the playground is surrounded by a little bit of woods. Just beyond the trees, so close you can hear the cars whiz past, is the highway.  There's not a fence that I know of.

Add crowds and a kid who doesn't possess the skill of telling a stranger his name... you know, someone who might be looking for him... and the love of stimming on cars going by, along with no sense of danger, and there you have my fear of taking my child into these situations.

As a kid, in both my mother and father's houses, this was a big day.  There were a few times I was able to be with my mother's family, mostly in high school.  But just about every other Independence Day I celebrated in southeast Kansas with my Daddy and stepmother.  He was disabled with COPD from a chemical burn on his lungs, and she worked in her beauty shop they built on the house.

This was, hands-down, my favorite day with them.  Through every year, even when he was binge-drinking, taking valium, and doing other things that weren't quite so legal, the Fourth was a day we all could manage to be happy.

Daddy and I would go to a fireworks stand in the afternoon sometime before my stepmother quit for the day.  That one day of the year, I got to be daddy's little girl, getting what I felt like was anything I wanted.  Looking back, I know he only could spend about $20, but the amount doesn't matter.  We did this together... really together.  Once we were home, I'd sit down and sort through them all... those crazy hens that laid eggs, the tanks, the cones, the roman candles... and arrange our little show.  Once that was over, we'd get in the truck and watch the show at the local community college.

Of just about everything I would NEVER bring to my family of my relationship with my father, this was definitely an exception.

It's another case of "I always thought I'd do the same with my kids".  This time, however, the burn ban we always seem to be under keeps me from doing what we used to do.  They say it's okay, and fireworks stands still sprout and bloom like wildflowers, dying off on the fifth.  But I can see the brown, dry grass, and um... no.  The local fireworks show frightened me, too.  After bedtime?  No boundaries?  We'd surely lose him or he'd lose it.

Ryan's enjoyed family fireworks in the past, but they were shot in southeast Oklahoma at Nanny's.  Not in central Texas, where we can't seem to decide if we're in a desert climate.  And the fiery stuff was far away from the kids most of the time.  Not so much here.

This year, just like I did last year with football games (you can read about that here), there had to be some changes made.  We were missing everything.  Some things really are too hard and confusing for Ryan, which means they're not fun for him.  But it was time to try.

We sat around the table and talked through our battle plan itinerary.  We picked the things in the park we thought would be fun and do-able, and the parade.  We had to go to the parade.  There wouldn't be a band, obviously our favorite part of any parade as a band family, but there would be lots of other cool stuff.  After the parade, we'd make a family trip to the little sweets shop in town.

The whole time we talked, I wanted to say that it would be too hard.  Thankfully, the part of me that wants to savor all the wonderful things about the life God has given us won.

It was interesting at times.  And there was hitting and screaming at times.  The trip to the park was the worst... or it was the most challenging.  I'm still not sure what to think about the man who asked Eric what was wrong with a hitting, screaming Ryan.  "He has autism and is having a meltdown" didn't seem funny to me, but apparently that man thought it was hilarious. Ah well, I guess we gave him a good laugh at the least.

So the park was tough, and waiting between events was tough.

But the great parts were so much more than worth it.

These kids were awesome.  They were great at the parade, and got more candy than if they were trick-or-treating.  A little girl riding a float even recognized Ryan, and hollered and waved at him!

While daddy grilled burgers, they swam and played.  Once they'd had their fill of holiday fare, we dried, dressed and piled in the van to watch fireworks.  

Watching those fireworks was one of the sweetest family times we've ever shared.  It was a long wait to start, but we had glow sticks and random people selling things to fill the time. 

Then, the most magical of it all.  The oohs, aahs, and wows.  Ryan spouted "Look at her!" in his excitement, but he really meant, "Look at that!"  

He said they were beautiful.  

Richie and Maelynn both said this was the best day ever.  

And they were right.  

Thanks be to God for our country... and for such a wonderful, imperfect day.  

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you guys got out and enjoyed the day (and night), despite the fear of what might happen and knowledge that staying at home was safe and easy.


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