March 6, 2011

Something to Do

Posted in Fun Stuff tagged , , , , , , , at 11:05 am by autismmommytherapist

It’s the one millionth time we’ve driven home from the boardwalk arcade this winter, and the familiar cadence of Justin’s vowel sounds is once again caressing me like a warm, well-worn blanket. My boy is rocking out in the back seat to Yaz (he selected the CD, he has fabulous taste), and as we reach the crescendo to Midnight I glance back in the mirror so I can view his happy countenance. We’ve frequented this place so many times since the cold weather enveloped central Jersey that we’ve begun cycling through all the venues here, but one thing remains static- our culminating trip to the fudge shop.

Like I said, my boy has fabulous taste.

I have to admit I was bored today, encumbered by the habitual malaise that envelops me on the cusp of every new season. Easter is late this year, which means the rides at our local boardwalk won’t open until mid-April (thank God for Great Adventure, my new best friend), and I have completely run out of things to do with my moderately autistic child, on a Sunday afternoon, in February. Bowling is out, because all the lanes are packed around here on weekends after ten, and we’ve already sat through forty-one minutes of the latest Pixar creation, which means we’re now on our way to the one option left to us, which is home.

Crap. It’s only 2:15. Only five more hours to go.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy spending time with my eldest son, because I do. Even though he doesn’t talk (allowing Mommy some actual “quiet time” in the car, which on some days is a real bonus), we always manage to communicate our feelings to one another, are successfully reciprocal in our attempts to convey our needs. One of my (many) profound fears when Justin was initially diagnosed was that I’d never comprehend his desires, would remain unable to fulfill his requests. To date, for which I am eternally grateful, understanding his thought processes has not been an issue.

We just get each other.

But as much as I enjoy this time with him, value his hugs of delight when I tell him to go get his sneakers because we’re leaving the house, appreciate his exuberant kiss on my forehead as we make one last trip to the potty, it’s simply not enough. I want to have somewhere wonderful to take him as we cruise the abandoned streets of this now-slumbering beach town, would like to have an alternative to what awaits us at our house. On this frigid afternoon, with the sun slanting speckled stripes through the dirty windshield of my car, I’d prefer more variety at my fingertips than the computer games he’s pretty much memorized, and the DVDs we’ve all viewed a thousand times together. Instead, I’d like to offer him a really cool locale.

I’d like to transport him to my version of Disney.

“KimIsney”, as I’d prefer to trademark it, is a fantasy I’ve concocted during our many hours in the car together, particularly on weekends as I schlep him back and forth to his riding lessons. In my daydreams as we drive I am the beneficiary of great largesse from our state’s lottery system (to date I’ve won $500, so I’m not holding my breath), and subsequently find myself the happy recipient of a staggering sum of money. This grand prize of course enables me to put one child through college and med school (certainly a four-year-old can already discern his career path), provides the other with a safe place to reside, and affords me access to that amazing farm I’ve created in my mind. Jeff and I are able to pay off our oft-refinanced mortgage before we’re eighty, and I am able to better satisfy my clothing/restaurant/travel fetishes. We then treat our families and friends to “frivolous stuff”, and happily donate to our favorite charities and organizations (don’t worry POAC, you made the list).

And of course, there’s just gobs of money left over for fun.

In my mind’s eye, “KimIsney” encompasses as much land as both Kennedy compounds combined, and is about as well-protected. Within its interior is a snack-bar that not only distributes healthy snacks, which our picky eaters will actually consume, but serves gluten-free casein-free products for those children on the “autism diet” as well (notice I address the food issue first). There are game rooms where unlimited and repetitive play is not only allowed but considered the norm, some with the accoutrement of loud sounds and flashing lights, and several more restrained in deference to children with sensory requirements. An Olympic-sized pool provides lessons to those on the spectrum as yet unable to swim, with a one hundred per cent success rate upon completion.

Hey, it’s my fantasy. Indulge me.

Of course there are in residence two movie theaters, one “typical”, and one reminiscent of AMC’s autism showing (light on the previews, heavy on accepting all legal behaviors). Indoor rides are plentiful, both those with a gentle sway, and ones that accommodate my son’s need to torture his mother’s severely diminished equilibrium. Just for fun we’ll throw in a stable, where Justin can both practice the equestrian grooming arts, and trot his little heart out.

And the best part is, it’s so well-staffed, nobody ever has to wait for anything.

In my opinion, “KimIsney” would not be complete unless there was an accompanying parent component, and since it’s so fabulously staffed with Board Certified Behavior Analysts just gunning to donate some of their abundant free time, parents should have the opportunity to relax. An inviting wing of the compound will include a spa, light shopping (come on, I’m trying to throw in a bit of realism here), and of course a “tini” bar for those who come with a designated driver. Moms and Dads of children on the spectrum will have the opportunity to actually RELAX on a weekend, knowing their kids are safe within the sanctuary of the building, and remain in competent, well-trained hands.

There’s no way I’m donating this structure to the world unless my people can let loose a bit.

I’m just beginning to envision what stores I’ll have in residence when my dreams are abruptly interrupted by a smudge on our selected CD, a blip that forces me to change our music selection so the words “only you” are not forever emblazoned in my psyche. For once Justin is not annoyed at the derailment of his choice, and I quickly “throw the book” at him, and wait patiently as he thumbs through plastic receptacles for our future tunes. I half consider a brief stop at WaWa for the latest lottery pick, but since my chances of a meltdown from Justin when I prevent him from consuming every carb in sight are much greater than landing the motherload, I resist the temptation. For the occupants of this car, on this mid-afternoon, it appears there is no place like home.

And who knows, if I keep playing those numbers from Lost, maybe one day we’ll all win too.