So Thursday morning was really hard. Hard enough that I couldn’t get it out of my mind and had to write (while GC cooked dinner no less) about it even though I originally planned to document the school field trip the Roc (and I!) went on. This autism ride is a roller coaster people. Up and down, up and down, the highs of highs, and then 2 seconds later the bottom drops out, quite literally.
So I am back tracking, because Tuesday’s field trip needs to be recorded, for me, for the Roc, for those of you signing the field trip permission slips with wishes of participating, but knowing it’s not your time yet, your presence alters the already altered routine of the school day, and it’s just too much. Because that is how it was for me. Inappropriate behaviors, acting out, not listening, the dreaded hand obsession, all of it would be present if I appeared on a field trip, and it sucked. So I waited, I signed the slips and I stayed home, until Tuesday. The Roc’s teacher had emailed me after the permission slip came home to see if I wanted to be a chaperon, and the Roc expressed a clear desire to have me accompany him, so I said yes.
I still sent him to school on the bus, keeping that routine in place, and I arrived at the school after he had unpacked his backpack and was standing in line waiting to answer the question of the day. I still feel a surge of happiness to see him in the classroom. To see him amongst the other children, following the directions, going about his business just like any other kid. After he answered the question of the day with some help from the spec ed teacher (the question being did someone put sunscreen on you? Nope, I didn’t, and yes, he answered it correctly!) he turned to go to his table and saw me standing there. He smiled but instead of coming to me like I thought he would he did what he was supposed to, got his paper, sat in his seat, and set about coloring the train on the page.
When it was time to get on the bus the Roc was happy to sit with me, as he had requested.
We rode together peacefully, and he even dealt with the small stop we had to make when one of the buses had a door malfunction and all the children on that bus had to be dispersed throughout the other 3 buses. Once at the train station the Roc followed directions and took a class photo and then it was time to board the train! All the kids got a little scavenger hunt worksheet and he started right away.
The train ride was peaceful, and while he didn’t talk to the other two little boys in our group, it was wonderful to hear him sound out words as he worked on the worksheet. After our train ride we had lunch and then because there was ample time, his teachers called the class over to play duck, duck, goose, and I stayed behind at the picnic table watching. Another mother sat across from me, and as I watched my boy sit in the circle, waiting to be picked, watching the other children run with a smile on his face, I so wanted to grab her and say, “Can you believe that! LOOK at him! He’s playing the game, he understands, he’s participating! Holy smokes! This is what I pinned my hopes on 3 years ago. Kindergarten! Do you have any idea how THRILLED I am right now?” But I didn’t. I knew from when we introduced ourselves in the morning that she was a kindergarten teacher, so I wasn’t surprised when she asked me, “So what do you do?”
“I’m a stay at home mom,” I replied.
“Oh, how old are your other kids? How many do you have?” she asked eagerly, ready to talk the talk of motherhood.
“It’s just him. I only have him,” I responded. She stared at me blankly for a few seconds, and I could see the thought turning in her mind, what do you do all day? I rarely explain that I have a college degree, that I worked for a large corporation as a chemist, and then as an environmental consultant. None of that really matters anymore.
What do I do all day? You have no idea lady! Autism lives at my house, and it’s a full time job. I left it alone, I didn’t feel like explaining, there were too many words to be said in the short amount I had before the game would be over, and I wanted to soak in my excitement over duck, duck, goose while I had the chance.
The children had been playing for a while by now, and my stomach was sinking a little as I watched and watched and the Roc wasn’t picked. I got up to snap a picture with my phone, even if he didn’t get picked, it was wonderful to see him so engaged, so present, a part of the class…and then he was picked!
and I wanted to dance around as he chased the little boy and then did his part to pick the next “goose.”
Not long after it was time to get back on the bus. The Roc hugged me a few times while we rode back to his school and my heart melted. Even though I could have signed him out and taken him home, I let him finish out the day at school, leaving another routine in tact. I smiled as I walked to my car, no matter what the rest of the day would look like, the field trip had been a smashing success.
It was a wonderful day.
A day worth recording.