One of my nephews (grandnephew technically) had a birthday party tonight at one of those bouncy house indoor places today. We didn't feel that it would be wise to take Bianca. Not because the cast on her foot would slow her down any, but because since it does NOT slow her down, it really serves as a dangerous weapon to anybody in her path.
I could just see Bianca jumping like crazy and coming down with her cast on some poor unsuspecting kids face. It would not be pretty.
So we left Bianca with the babysitter while I took Sofie and Luis to the party. This is the first time that I can recall that I have ever gone to something like a party with just the two NT kids. Normally, parties are a huge source of stress and tension: Bianca constantly running one way, Luis the other, working meltdown interference and making sure there isn't a “Code Brown” in a public place, keeping other kids safe in case Bianca decided to head-butt them, keeping Bianca from eating other people’s food and candy. Any autism parent knows the routine.
As we exited the man-van and walked towards Bouncy Houses R Us, the first thing I realized was that I didn't have to make somebody run RECON and make sure that the vacuum cleaner was stashed away out of sight. We walked in and I told the kids to hang up their coats and put their shoes in the cubbies while I signed them in. They said “Hi” to the family when prompted and went off to play with their cousins.
I walked over to the table where the adults in the family were congregated and talked everything from video games to Bianca’s broken foot while keeping a loose eye on my two rugrats as they literally bounced off walls, jumped, laughed, screamed and ran full steam.
After an hour of physical exertion, it was time for pizza. The kids came and sat down right away. Luis devoured his pizza, Sofie ate two bites and pronounced that she was “SO full”… I made her eat “20 bites” more which is in reality one more bite. There were no spills, but Luis was a mess… he is allowed, he is two. They finished up and now fully re-charged, went back to jumping from one inflatable obstacle course to the other inflatable obstacle course.
A short time later it was time for ice cream and cake. You don’t have to tell my kids twice… once again they were quick to take a seat and wait patiently for the sugar overload to come their way. I was even able to score a slice of pizza and down some ice cream and anybody who knows me, knows that a day with ice cream is a GREAT day for me.
When it came time to leave I told the kids to grab their shoes and coats… Sofie was compliant but Luis too some persuading. We said good-bye to the family and walked to the man-van, loaded up and took off for home.
It was on our way to pick up Bianca from the sitters that the thought came over me. A thought that was immediately met with an enormous amount of guilt…
“This must be what it’s like to not have a kid with autism.”
For the first time in a long time, I got to experience an event with my kids that was autism-free. I got to see, even if just for this one party what it is like to be a parent to the other 87… not the 1 in 88. It was easy, it was stress-free my guard was down, I was relaxed and I didn't have to explain or apologize for anything the entire length of the party.
As soon as I thought it, I felt as though I was cheating on Bianca. I felt horrible. But then something magical happened. My thoughts started to do battle. The tidal wave of good that Bianca has brought to our lives came crashing over that one selfish thought. All the lessons that we have learned, the meaning Bianca has given my life and the joy that is a direct result of having a child with autism snuffed out any ember of thinking about life without the impact of autism.
Sure going to parties can be stressful. Yes we cannot go to every event we would like. Yes we fear going to the homes of others. It is challenging. It can be hard… but you know what? I will take it... gladly.
Better to have Bianca with us than with anybody else. We will keep her safe, we will love her to the end of the earth and we will appreciate her like no other. We love her. Autism and all. All I need is to see that GIANT smile, to feel her gently grab my face and look me in the eyes or have her share with us the hitting of a milestone and every challenge we face pales in comparison.
I picked up Bianca from the babysitter and carried her all the way to the car telling her how much I loved and appreciated her all along the way. Sure the other 87 may have it a little easier, but we have Bianca… we are the lucky ones.
I love you Binks.
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