Redefining Typical

A Mother, A Son, A Journey…..with Autism

The seven days of Spring Break April 11, 2013

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 Dawson and his most awesome caregiver.

Sunday was the last day of Dawson and Mae Mae’s spring break. The plans that I made to visit my parents, well, they didn’t happen.  I had it all organized and planned. We would go to my parents’ home in the mountains.   I told the kids we would stay three sleep nights, which is the amount of time that works best for my little guy. Leave on Thursday, come back on Sunday. We were set.  I would take my little ones to the playground and the indoor pool. We would play in the creek and take a hike to the waterfall.  Dave was going to stay behind for work and I had help lined up for Dawson. Our wonderful sitter was going with us to supervise our little man and help keep him safe.  I thought I had it in the bag. I was going for it. Other families take trips during spring break. That’s what you do, right?

Then Monday came and knocked on our door. First there was the missing Baby Galileo DVD.

He could not find it.

I turned over every pillow cushion and looked under every bed.

He screamed.

He stripped off his clothes.

He cried.

I led him to his room.

I gave him his paci.

I piled his blankets around him.

I popped him popcorn.

And in his room he sat.

Naked.

Eating popcorn.

Because this is what calms my son when he is upset.

Then there was the DVD that skipped. The magical circular object that brings him such peace. Yes, it skipped and his world was rocked once more.

And Monday night, his howls, his screams, his unclothed body curled up on his bed. Dave and I frantically looking for a yellow wooden ball that he wanted. On our bellies, scooting across the floor like army men, looking under his dresser and hope chest, shaking out blankets and shaking them out again.

And the child I gave birth to.

His voice.

It ached.

Fist hitting the mattress, he screamed, “No ball! Where is the ball! No!”

Dave’s and my voices were steady.

Then not.

Snapping at the man I love.

Sneering at him.

That I had already looked through the blankets.

And my sweet Dawson.

His eyes red.

His cheeks wet.

The sadness.

The unforgiving anxiety and grief over losing that perfect round yellow object.

Then I hear the words from my husband, “Look buddy. Look Dawson. Here is your yellow ball. We found it.”

Dawson grabs the ball.

Hugs it.

And breathes, “Yes”

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That night Dave and I sit in our bed.

I tell him I can’t do the trip.

All of the reasons come spewing out of my mouth.

What if he won’t go into the bathroom at McDonald’s when we stop? You are the one who can always get him to go. What if he won’t go for me? The air dryers at the rest areas are too loud. What am I going to do if he says he needs to go potty? What if we get to my parents’ and he is upset and wants to come home? I have never done a trip without you. After a day like today I just don’t think I can do it.

Dave touches my hand.

His reassuring voice.

It’s okay if you don’t go.

The trip to see my parents.

Cancelled.

And it made me sad.

Just sad.

I watched my Facebook newsfeed.

Pictures popping up of my friends and their children on spring break.

And I wanted what they had.

A moment.

No, a week.

Just seven days of their typical.

Just 168 hours

Just 10,080 minutes.

Couldn’t I just have a little slice of what they were given?

I reached for it.

I planned for it.

But it was not mine to take.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And so our spring break was at home.

And there were more meltdowns and more tears.

But there were beautiful moments.

For him.

For her.

For my Dawson there were trips to Target, Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, TJMaxx, JoAnn’s Fabrics, Harris Teeter, and of course the Dollar Tree.  These stores, they are his playground. He yearns to go to them like I yearn for the mountains of North Carolina. He plays in them — bouncing balls, exploring toys, finding pinwheels, and eating cookies. He skips and jumps under their lights like my Mae Mae jumps from stone to stone in the creek where my parents live.

And there were the trips to Dairy Queen.  Multiples trips to the DQ. Outings with his most beloved caregiver, with me, with Dave, and as a family. His routine of jumping and dancing in front of the freezer that holds the delicious treats made me smile. And his delight in flipping through the cake catalog and bouncing on his knees in the booth as he waited for his large cone to arrive was evidence that ice cream can make you pretty darn happy.

And for my Mae Mae, there were our sweet neighbors, who took her to the children’s museum, and a play date with her most special friend who she has known since she was two years old. She watched My Little Pony videos with her most beloved little puppy sitting in her lap and stayed up way past her bedtime playing the game Sorry with her daddy. She held my hand as we walked downtown and we giggled as we went to get a cupcake from the bakery  just after we had just eaten gelato.

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And the week ended with Dawson’s baseball game. I shared on Facebook the glorious gift that was given to us on that Saturday afternoon:

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And today he played baseball.

And she stood beside him.

Standing in the outfield together she delighted in telling her brother, “Dawson get the ball!! Now throw it!”

And his turn up to bat.

She clapped and cheered. And she took his hand… She tugged.

He followed.

And they ran the bases together.

And I looked at Dave.

He looked at me.

We smiled.

And I close my eyes and say… Amen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was not what I had planned.

It never really ever is.

But the moments.

Filled with sorrow and smiles.

They gave birth to the miracles.

To Mae Mae and Dawson throwing a baseball together in a big green field on warm spring day.

To Dawson uttering the beautiful words, “Move away puppy” when our new little doggie got too close to him.

To sitting around the dinner table as a family and singing the Johnny Appleseed blessing and breathing in Mae Mae’s giggles as we ate our pizza and played the I am Thinking of an Animal game on a cool night.

Our spring break.

Our seven days.

Our 168 hours.

Our 10,080 minutes.

Our typical.

Different.

But beautiful.

And I thank God for each second that was ours.

 

Copyright Cheairs Graves April 9, 2013

 

 

10 Responses to “The seven days of Spring Break”

  1. Tracey Roberts Says:

    Cheairs…oh, my. Like I didn’t already think your children were special. Wow.

  2. rhemashope Says:

    The image of D and M running the bases together. And you and Dave smiling at each other, cherishing it all… I really love your family.

  3. hi Cheairs! This is Nipa from Abu Dhabi. ( we emailed earlier through Christine) I am so touched by all your writing! I would like to share this Spring break article on my website in this month of April. Please let me know if you would let me do so? I would be honred and many parents in this part of the world will be happy to read it.
    Thank you,
    Nipa

  4. Lin Johnson Darden Says:

    Cheairs,

    You have taught me how to live in the present moment and be thankful for the little things through the your shared moments. The little things are the big things. And parenting is never as we planned. Love to your dear children. Thank you for sharing your stories with others. You are as amazing now as I remember you being at PC:)

    Lin

  5. Wow, what a beautiful, beautiful, wonderful post. Tears and smiles. I’m so glad I found you. Thank you for saying what I feel so often and cannot say.

  6. Peggy Rada Says:

    Cheairs, thank you for sharing your heart and soul so beautifully! I look forward to reading more of your writings! What lucky children to have you and Dave as their parents!
    Peggy Rada


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