Yep – I missed a day. That is the third day I’ve missed in the 325 days I’ve been writing. The first because I ran a 1/2 marathon, the second due to digestion issues…and the third?
Vacation – so this post will be twice as long as normal to cover the past 2 days.
We spent the weekend at Clear Lake, Iowa in a lakeside hotel and yesterday I made the conscious choice to not write – but to take every minute and spend it with my family. It was well-worth it.
Vacation is exhausting. I’ve long said that people need a vacation from vacation, don’t you think? Vacation with a kiddo on the spectrum – even ‘mild’ – whew…EXHAAAUUUUSSSSTIIIING.
I think the most exhausting piece is toeing the line. I have already written about my trouble with the line. This line? It’s mentally exhausting – let me set up the scene.
We stayed at a very safe hotel with maybe 12 rooms. The rooms face the lake. There is a restaurant attached to the lake side of the hotel and a beautiful dock to sit on (and jump off). 10 of those 12 rooms were rented by family members – we sort of take over the hotel for the weekend.
I’ve finally figured out that Tucker’s ‘hate’ of lakes and rivers has to do with not being able to see the bottom and feeling out of control. I can’t get him out of pools – but lakes and rivers? That’s a different deal. I know one day I will be relieved at this fact – but man, I just want him to feel the waves that I grew up with.
So – none of us pushed him (obviously not INTO the lake). When I say push – I just mean getting him out of his comfort zone.
Friday night we arrived and headed straight to the dock. On the walk there Tucker continued repeating, “I’m not getting in. I’m not getting in.” I agreed – I knew that trying to get him in on the first night would be pretty futile. Regardless, he was up late having a great time with cousins.
He went to bed late…I knew that was going to be an immediate issue.
Saturday morning he woke up early…I knew that was going to be an immediate issue.
We had breakfast and he already had BRIGHT RED eyebrows (this is our ‘too tired’ sign)…I knew that was going to be an immediate issue.
During breakfast he was argumentative and competitive…I knew that was going to be an immediate issue.
To bed late, up early, argumentative, competitive? Recipe for disaster for ‘forcing’ any kind of social’ness on my kiddo. I don’t know how I did it, but I convinced him to lay back down for a nap at 10:30 AM. I’m a genius…at least in that moment. He made me promise that I would wake him when the boat came (my amazing in-laws rented a boat for the afternoon).
I went to wake him at 12:45 PM and he didn’t wake. I let it go – I knew we had the boat for a few hours…so I figured I wouldn’t try to hard to wake him just yet. About 45 minutes later he woke on his own. Three hour nap? Perfect…par for course for helping his brain work more efficiently.
He loved the pontoon ride around the lake.
Then he went back to the hotel room. Next? Trouble with the line.
The mental exhaustion I have is from deciding when (and how much) to push. If you push too far – you’ll normally lose him for the rest of the day. Here is the deal though –
- I DON’T want him just sitting in a room while family members are laughing, eating, and jumping in a lake having fun.
- I DON’T want him to become so overwhelmed that I (and others) spend our entire vacation trying to help him have fun.
- I DON’T want him to hate the experience so he won’t ever want to come back.
Then, the moment came. I had enough. I said to my husband, “That’s it – I’m going to get him.” He agreed that it was worth the risk.
“Tucker. Let’s go. You’ve had enough time to rest, enough time to get your mind right, enough time to blow off steam – you’re going to come down to the end of the dock with me. We want you to be with us…your family WANTS you.”
“Yes. I didn’t ask you a question. You are walking down with me. I won’t get in the lake if you want me to sit beside you, but we are going down and going to enjoy this experience this together.”
“I’m not getting in the lake.”
“That’s fine. I’ll take your lake shoes just in case.”
“I’m not getting in the lake.”
“That’s fine. We’ll just sit together.”
“I’m not getting in the lake.”
I nodded as I walked away and he followed. Part of the success of getting Tucker out of his comfort zone is that I actually don’t have that many rules, I don’t ask him for that much – so when I do…he knows I’m serious.
We went to the end of the dock. Everyone said, “Hey Tucker!” “Hi Tucker!” “Glad you came to join us Tucker!” He was feeling pretty loved. Cousins were jumping and laughing. Finally -he saw a cousin with a Green Bay Packers hat. My monster’sized Vikings fan whispered to me, “I can’t believe he’s wearing a Packers hat. Barf.” So I said, “Huh. Well…maybe you should jump in and get it off his head.”
He looked at me – and I thought my manipulation may have worked. I turned my head and heard a big splash. Sure enough as I turned back around (keep in mind that he can touch at the end of this dock) he had the hat in his hand giggling.
In his clothes. Oh well…
Win. Big, big win.
Once he was in he had a GREAT time – I knew he would, he usually does. It’s just for him to overcome all that ‘can’ go wrong, to do something new, to take a chance is really, really tough.
Smiling, right? Well…today the opposite happened. I pushed and it backfired.
Tears at breakfast.
Stress at lunch.
Overwhelmed at late afternoon.
So…finally we left the group. We left and went across the road to a park – it was shady and cool, quiet and calm.
We simply removed all the noise, all the sights, all the smells, all the dangers, all the social expectations…
Just what the Doctor ordered. We played a quick game of frisbee. We listened to music. We laid down; his head on my shoulder and looked at the sky through the trees.
The water was great, the fun was amazing, the food was fantastic, the family was fun – but this moment? The quiet, solitude of my boy and me…it was my favorite. It’s funny (as in ironic) when I look back at the weekend. If asked about my favorite moment of the weekend?
A younger me would have chosen the chaos. A wiser me chooses the moment in which we worked at finding the calm in the chaos.
Looking through the trees – maybe because it reminded me of life on the spectrum – it’s always there. A glimmer, a light, a moment – looking at the light streaming through the trees was a great reminder of this life we live. Sometimes the view is obstructed by a few leaves, sometimes it’s a clear view, and sometimes it’s obstructed by heavy vegetation…but it’s always beautiful.