The sky is high and blue; only the small, puffy clouds that announce a glorious spring day punctuate the perfection. It's cool and breezy, and we have no place we have to be-- no school, no sports, no therapy. I so wanted to go to the zoo today.
When the boys were small, this was the kind of day that would find us on an adventure. We'd pack ourselves some snacks and drinks and spare clothes, the rest of the travel kit, hop in the car, and go explore the world. Zoo, beach, museum, mountains, Jamestowne, park, aquarium, Dinosaurland, somewhere new and interesting and fun. We'd look for shark teeth or find sheep at Wakefield or ride out to feed the goats or chase chickens.
No, these outings were not the same as one might have without an autistic child in tow. Joey might not see as much or understand as much or even care as much; but we were out and about and doing.
It is a life we have left aside the road. With bolting, I can't go with two boys anywhere by myself anymore. We must have a ready set of hands and legs to run in case of a sudden anxiety attack. Going anywhere outside a 20 minute drive now involves huge preparation for both boys, with very limited possibilities for success even so. Anything interrupting comfortable, predictable sameness risks major consequences. It is no longer safe for my boys to have only one adult with them.
Even when they were little, not every outing was a picture of perfection. We have pulled Joey about a zoo in a wagon when he refused to walk. I have sat on benches with Joey and had Andy wait for calming or hunger to be appeased. There was the infamous bolt at the Renaissance Faire, when Joey was being chased by fully costumed knights. Thank goodness some kind soul managed to watch Andy while we got Joey out of the woods.
But there was also the trip when the budgies landed on our sticks and we got to let them, and feed a giraffe. There was that beautiful first time Andy saw dinosaurs, and his face was alight with dreams. There was the trip when we watched rays glide through the water like birds. There were happy lunches in Williamsburg, smiling faces on 15th century boats, and happy watching of orangutans and playing on giant pizzas. They may not have all been rousing successes, but at least we learned to try.
Now, I think hard before I even take them to the park. Joey wanders about with a shovel or spoon, writing in the air and occasionally shouting things at random, or roaring like Bowser until the other kids steer clear of him. Taking him to a different park can be overwhelming, as he displayed all too clearly just yesterday. Is it worth all the anxiety and stress? There was a time when I answered yes. That was before anxiety meant Joey might run into the street.
Still, I so wanted to go to the zoo today.