The Herd and I spent a long weekend with my parents in Arizona. There is just something about time with my Daddy that makes everything else much more manageable. And my mom (technically step-mom, but she’s never ever been anything but mom, and I only clarify the step portion when people get confused), well, talks with her are so restoring. As we pulled away to drive home yesterday, I found myself crying. Daddy is in his 80’s. Every time I say goodbye, there is some fear deep in my heart it will be the last. He’s a tough guy who has survived a ton, but no one is immortal. And so I cried some as I drove down the highway.
Daddy shared he is writing the stories of his childhood. He let me read what he has written so far. I am so happy he’s doing it. Some stories I’ve heard, but many are new. He was born in the early-30’s and I am fascinated to hear how things were back then – how he worked even as a little boy, what school was like, his parents, his family, what his world looked like. You see your parent in an entirely new way as they share that part of themselves.
I have always been a Daddy’s girl. Daddy was the one I sat with on Sunday afternoons, eating salami and cheese, and watching football, golf, racing, or whatever sport was on. I learned to love sports because I knew to spend time with Daddy involved sports. I learned baseball because my brother played Little League, and oh how I looked up to my brother. I learned to keep score – a skill I’ve long since forgotten – so I could pay closer attention to his games, and so he would have concrete evidence of his success, or failure, during any given game. When I got older, during and after college, Daddy, my brother and I would get bleacher seats in the Oakland Colosseum (before Mount Davis was built in the outfield) to watch our beloved Athletics play. A few years after that, my brother and I started getting season tickets each year. Being in a baseball stadium watching a game is almost like being at the beach for me…I am in a calm, happy place. I can breathe.
We went to see two Spring Training games this weekend. We saw the Padres on Friday, and the A’s on Saturday. I was worried it would be too much for Daddy, but he proved me wrong. Stubborn man. We enjoyed sunshine, cold beer, hot dogs, peanuts, cotton candy, nachos, and snow cones. I watched my babies take it all in. It’s been four or five years since we’ve been able to get to any Spring Training games. They barely remember the last one. They loved being so close to the field, in the smaller parks. I loved watching them learn the game that I love so much.
Of course, we had our moments with Little Man. He could care less about sports. Going to games is not one of his favorite things to do in life…so much noise, so many people, the potential for long lines, the heat, so much movement. He had his headphones. And I let him bring his DS and iPod. It just isn’t worth the effort of battle to try to make him watch the entire game. Friday was incident-free. Not so much Saturday’s game. We were closer to the field, not far off home plate, and he became very anxious we would be hit by a foul ball. He has, unfortunately, seen a woman who wasn’t paying attention to the game be knocked out by a line-drive foul ball, so now he’s convinced the same thing is going to happen every time we go to a game. I pointed out we know to pay attention, and where we were sitting was in a spot unlikely to get direct foul balls. He settled down a little bit. We got food and drinks before the game started. He was kneeling down playing his DS when we came back. The drinks did not have lids on them, and he wasn’t paying attention as he took the full cup. He set it down in the (tilted) cup holder, and soda proceeded to spill out directly onto his DS. Cue freakout. And cue the rude/ignorant woman sitting behind us who immediately said, “Oh great, here we go.” I grit my teeth. Seriously, lady? I managed Little Man quickly. It was a short outburst, and I was able to talk him down within a minute. But I was on edge the remainder of the day. I wanted my sign again, the one that says, “I’m not a bad parent, and he’s not a bad kid, he’s autistic.” It was obvious the woman behind us just thought he was a beast, and/or I am a bad mother who lets her kids behave that way. Little Man was great the rest of the game. But the incident took a little shine off the day.
When your child’s differences are not physically obvious, some people will think you’re just a bad parent, or your child is spoiled. They don’t understand the tantrums. They don’t understand why your child is wearing headphones and playing his DS at a baseball game, or at dinner in a noisy restaurant. I’m sure I am probably hyper-sensitive, but it is with reason, because we’ve been on the receiving end of those looks and comments. Much of the time, I’m able to ignore it and just do what I need to do for my boy. But there are days I just want to respond, to put those ignorant people in their places, educate them – loudly. I will not hide my child away at home just because he’s autistic. I do choose to take him places he may not prefer. That’s on me. I know that. He needs to learn, while in a controlled situation, how to manage himself. So, yes, we take him to movies, baseball games, his siblings’ games and shows, the beach, restaurants, and parties. Some days, we’re successful. Some days, the wheels come off. I know there are going to be those people who react the same as the lady sitting behind us the other day. I hope, though, we are able to educate and open eyes. He deserves that. So do I.
NaBloPoMo prompt for today: Who do you trust more: yourself or others?
The answer to that question depends on the subject. I have learned to trust my instincts, especially when it comes to my body, and to my kids. I’m a smart girl. I’m educated. I know how to research. I read a lot. If it’s a topic I’m unsure of, then I will likely trust others who have more information or experience. When it comes to my own abilities, I don’t tend to trust myself. I still lack confidence in so many ways, and self-esteem can be an issue even at this stage of life.