We did something on Saturday that I thought might put the Roc over the edge and cause GC and I to question our parenting skills as well as our sanity. We took the Roc to a New Jersey Devils hockey game…
Professional hockey. A Saturday home game that was sure to be crazy. New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders.
An event packed with people, both little and big, talking, laughing, shouting, and cheering. At the same time. A place buzzing with energy, lights, noise, and action. A sensory smorgasbord if you will. Hell on Earth for some. We didn’t know how it would go. We were prepared to leave early if need be, but hoped against hope that we would be able to stay for the whole game (those tickets were expensive!) The Roc has watched hockey on TV with us (though never sat through the whole thing) and expressed interest in attending a game. We talked about where we would be sitting (14 rows of the ice!), that there would be MANY people there, lots of lights and that it would be very noisy. We bought noise canceling headphones for him to wear during the game if it was too overwhelming.
Not knowing if those preparations really sunk in with the Roc we left on Saturday morning to catch the train in Princeton. The train was packed, standing room only and as we walked through 2 cars I started to worry. The Roc was not going to enjoy standing for 45 minutes on a bumpy train. Lucky for him a young woman scooted over and allowed him to sit with her. We thanked her profusely (in that same car a group of blond decked out women with extra seats didn’t offer him a seat! It wasn’t until a man with his heavily pregnant wife (who was carrying a toddler!) asked if they would move over did they squeeze out a fake smile and allow her to sit down! She stood in the aisle by them for TWO stops before her husband asked! What is WRONG with people?) I stared at them while the Roc sat quietly for the rest of the ride. (I gave him a lollipop–it keeps him quiet.)
There was quite a crowd when we arrived at the Newark station and GC plopped the Roc on his shoulders for the couple block walk to the Prudential Center (also known as “The Rock”). He is much happier up there where he can see instead of being stuck on the ground watching adult legs scissor about. We had to wait in a long line to get into the stadium and we could see people being patted down and searched. I started to get a little nervous. The main thing I was worried about (besides a major meltdown during the game) was getting into the stadium with food. The Roc is on a special diet and I knew that none of the overpriced garbage would meet his dietary needs and the website says no outside food. GC had called and emailed “The Rock” asking if we could bring special food inside and got no reply. He finally emailed the New Jersey Devils organization and someone got back to him right away stating that they make exceptions for those with special circumstances and to ask to for guest services manager if we were to encounter any problems. I stuffed that email as well as documentation stating the Roc’s Autism diagnosis and his IGG bloodwork showing his food sensitivities in my purse which was already packed with a thermos of beef soup, lots of snacks, the headphones, and my camera. I gulped a little and prepared to state my (the Roc’s ) case over the deafening noise of the crowd chanting “Let’s Go Devils!” when I handed my purse over to be searched. She asked me about my Thanksgiving, unzipped and glanced inside my purse before smiling at the Roc and handing it back. Whew!
After getting a kids jersey for free (gotta love Family Day) and his ticket scanned the Roc resumed his high perch on GC’s shoulders and we made our way to our seats. The game was just about to start. The Roc looked a bit shell shocked to see the ice, the players, the crowd, the lights, etc. but he quickly settled into his seat and started asking for food. From then on he ate and enjoyed the game. He consumed way too much sugar (more lollipops!) along with his beef soup but he was thoroughly entertained. He loved being able to scream at the top of his lungs along with the crowd but we had to teach him NOT to scream when things were intense and the crowd was quiet(er). He startled the ladies in front of us quite a few times, but they were good about it. (After turning around and seeing how abnormally cute he is.) At one point during the first period I noticed the Roc was wide eyed and edgy looking so I asked him if he wanted to wear his headphones. He wore them for about 10 minutes before taking them off and handing them back to me. He didn’t wear them again during the rest of the game even though I asked if he needed them.
He did awesome during the game.
No meltdowns. No panic. No overload. No whining. No complaining. No asking to go home.
Amazing for him.
He made it through the whole game. The whole thing! Three 20 minute periods and two 15 minute intermissions.
He was a bit more hyper (sugar!) and it was hard to get him to look at the camera for a photo but we snapped some anyway.
GC’s friend Greg attended the game with us. (Attention single ladies! Greg is an Army captain, 1st year medical student, marathon runner, and not married! Quite the catch!)
The Roc was shouting “Let’s go Devils” even though the game was over. Note the lollipop.
The Roc rode on GC’s shoulders during the walk back to the train station and we were all relieved when a double decker train pulled up. We were all able to sit this time. Lately the Roc loves to go places in the dark so he was thrilled that the sun was going down and he got to ride the train in the dark. This kid cracks me up.
The adults were famished by the time we got back to the car so we pushed our luck and stopped at the Thai food restaurant GC and I frequented when we lived in Jersey. I had another thermos of beef soup in the car and the Roc quickly polished that off while we were eating our appetizers. I had to give him yet another lollipop to keep him quiet while I gulped down my Pad Kee Mow (yum) but considering the stimulating day he had and all of the sugar he consumed I was pretty impressed that his behavior didn’t completely crumble to the floor. We knew we were precariously close to the edge but he didn’t fall off.
It was a good day.
Oh yeah, and the Devils beat the pants of the Islanders.
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