Last Sunday our church had a hayrack ride and bonfire gathering. Classic ‘rural’ community fun. It was wonderful. Estelle was SO excited – she couldn’t stop talking about it all day. When we left our friends’ farm that night she proclaimed it as one of the ‘best nights ever!’
Children who are on the spectrum are often overly cautious (once they get out of that ‘run in front of cars’ phase). I have to believe that this is part of their careful calculation and observation of the world. Now, I get there are many children who are nervous or frightened about new situations…but this is an entirely different deal.
Here were some questions throughout the day (I’m not joking, not one bit):
1. What if I fall off the hayrack? You won’t fall off the hayrack, it is enclosed.
2. What if it is too bouncy? It will be bouncy. You will sit on a hay bail and that will cushion any impact of bouncing that will occur.
3. What if the hay is itchy? It will be. I’ll remember to take a blanket for you to sit on.
4. What is someone is allergic to the hay? Most likely, they would know if they are allergic and will either take an allergy pill or would simply not go on the hayrack ride.
5. What is someone doesn’t know? I’ll take my cell phone so we can call for help for that person.
6. What if exhaust from the truck get blown at us? The wagon will probably be pulled by a tractor. Tractors don’t have exhaust in the back (then, showed a picture of a tractor and where the exhaust is located).
7. What time would we need to leave here? 4:30.
8. What will there be to drink? I’m sure hot chocolate, but we can take our own drinks along.
9. What will there be to eat? Will I miss supper? No, there will be hot dogs and chili and s’mores.
10. Will the hot dogs be boiled or grilled? I bet grilled over a fire. We’ll grill our own and avoid the grill marks as much as possible.
11. Will there be enough food for everyone? Yes, Micki is a great planner – I’m sure she has it all figured out.
12. Micki who? Micki from church, the hayrack ride is at her farm.
It’s 4:15, I give him the 15 minute warning. He responds with, “Oh mom…I just don’t know yet…(in a voice that is full of worry).”
It’s 4:25, I give him the 5 minute warning. He responds with, “Mom…I’m so afraid I’ll fall out and be hurt.”
I say my ‘old line’ – ‘Tucker, I will be there with you. I will not leave your side.’
It’s 4:30, I tell him it’s time to go if he’s going. He responds with, “Okay…I do love s’mores.”
We get to the hayrack ride. He walks slowly. Micki walks out of the house and says, “Hi Tucker, I’m so glad you came tonight.” (Bless her heart and soul – she doesn’t have ANY idea of how much that put him at ease.) He looks at me and smiles and says, “Oh, Micki from church!” (I’m not sure who he was expecting…but it’s one of those moments you wonder what in the world your child was/is thinking.)
He relaxes….until he gets in the wagon. Then this happens….
My man-sized child grabs onto my hand (that’s my hand in the middle). He clasps it with both of his. He looks in my eyes with tears in his. I say, “I have you. I will not let go until you do.”
He replies, “I won’t let go.”
I say, “Okay.”
And that’s how we rode…for half of the hayride. Hand in hand with my 7th grade boy. Hand in hand because I knew that it would always be him and me, advocating together. I knew it on the day he was tested (see Day 5- The Two Way Window) and I knew it more than ever in this moment.
BTW – he didn’t fall out, there were enough hot dogs, and the s’mores were awesome.
He’s still not sure about next year…but I have 358 more days to talk him into it…