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Full Circle on the 4th of July

on July 26, 2011

Sorry I haven’t been able to write in a while; as a Mama, a wife, a singer, a consultant and, well, just a busy person, life has been a little crazy. Unfortunately, the craziness of life was more internally personal rather than related to being an Autism Mommy, and that would just be another blog entirely! But there is something on my heart that I hadn’t yet found the time to write about…

In years past, on the Fourth of July, our neighbors across the street used to put on a big fireworks display with a yummy BBQ and all kinds of fireworks for all ages. Due to the unfortunate sadness of a neighbors’ divorce, this celebration hadn’t happened in the past 2 years.

Well, this year both my husband and stepdaughter were away at a camp attempting to “bond” for a week. (She’s 13 and had to hang out with Dad and no TV or cell phone for 7 days…you do the math!) However, my hubby told our incredibly kind neighbor that I would be with Alex and that, while we were interested in fireworks and related fun, there really wasn’t anywhere for us to go (due to Alex’s lack of concern for safety). So, he decided he was going to resurrect the old celebration, which would be a nice, safe place for Alex and I to socialize and play, since we live in a cul-de-sac.

Now, you can imagine my initial concern, and lack of desire for social interaction on such a stimulating holiday, which I think goes with the thought having a special needs child in a fun, “normie” kid environment. But, I stepped out on a limb, made some cupcakes, and walked hand-in-hand with my son over to the neighbor’s place around 5pm.

What I ultimately experienced when I stepped out on that limb still warms my heart to this day.

When Alex and I got across the street, he immediately took off to “inspect” every single possible area of the house, backyard, and garage (which was the focus of the event with the fireworks & BBQ). After greeting my neighbor and some neighborhood teens (he has 3 teen boys along with their friends, so obviously the teen girls were there, too), I quickly took off running after my son, the investigator (this is part of my unrest about going to other peoples’ houses by the way…no rest for Mama)! After about 5 minutes of this, my neighbor told me to sit & relax, then “assigned” one of the teen boys to follow Alex around for the next 20 minutes (and boy, did that big kid get a workout)!

Then something interesting happened. Alex came out into the garage and found the motorcycles. (If you remember correctly, one of my earlier blog posts was about motorcycles and birthday parties…well, this house is where those motorcycles came from.) The first thing that happened in my head was alarm…I prepared myself for leaving soon. But my neighbor noticed Alex’s interest in the bikes and instructed his youngest to come out and get his bike fired up. He intended to allow Alex to ride with his son, if he wanted, as long as he would wear the helmet…and his son was perfectly willing and happy to do so. Wow. For those of you who read that previous post about my longing for him to someday fit in, and wondering if anyone would ever offer him a ride on something like that, this offer and willingness was powerful and moving to me.

Now, Alex actually wouldn’t do it – he preferred to watch – but here’s where it gets even more wonderful. Those kids got that bike out and started giving rides around the block…but there were 2 other motorcycles in that garage. One of ’em needed work before it could be ridden, and my neighbor had one of the kids working on it. Alex started getting the tools out and pretending to “work” on it with that teenage boy! That teen didn’t get irritated or tell him to stop. And the teen girls standing around actually watched Alex and smiled with me at his cute little antics (like trying to use a wrench on the brake handle with a serious “I’m fixing things” face)…and for a minute I think it was possible that they were just as enamoured with him as I was. It was a beautiful thing.

DSC09028.JPGLater, we began doing a few fireworks…mini Roman candles, the little spinning tanks, things like that. Alex didn’t want to light them, but he was happy to watch me do so, and he enjoyed the results. When I had lit off a few things and was grinning like a silly kid, I went back to sit down in the garage, and my neighbor said to me, “No, you need to go get some more fireworks and do that again.” I asked “Why?”

He pointed to my laughing, child-like grin and said “That’s why.” So I went and blew some more stuff up like a little kid, and guess what? I smiled some more.

Meanwhile, some littler kids from down the street came by and started playing with Alex a bit. They had one of those little kid-sized police cars that you can actually sort of “drive” down the street, and the brother and sister were riding in it. Alex couldn’t fit, but that didn’t bother him one bit. He took a walk and followed them, smiling and walking with their mom alongside the little car.DSC09043.JPG

After about 2 hours, Alex was done and started walking across the street, back home. I promised our neighbor we’d be back when it got dark and the big stuff started happening. Well, when Alex and I got back to the house, we laid on the couch and both promptly fell asleep…haha…when I woke, it was 9pm. I put Alex down for the night (YES, my son can sleep through fireworks), and headed back over across the street to keep my promise.

I ate BBQ ribs, lit off a few mortar-style fireworks with the teens, enjoyed some additional adult company that had showed up, and then exited stage left when I felt it was time to get back and make sure Alex was okay. Once back at the house in my pajamas, I fell asleep pretty quickly again.

And I’m pretty sure I fell asleep with a smile on my face. =)

❤ Kristi

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