This past weekend, we took Freddy back to college in Saratoga Springs, NY. We were going to make it a one night trip, but with the early week reports of the blizzard possibly hitting Boston, we added Friday night on. The blizzard didn't hit, but the two nights away made for a good little getaway.
Janey did extremely well with the trip overall. There were many great moments. She loves hotel rooms, and we stayed in two different ones (as it was too late to add a second night to the first one we booked). She literally danced around with joy at her first sight of each one. I've heard a few other parents of kids like Janey say that their kids love hotels, too. I'm not sure why. Part of it with Janey is that hotel rooms tend to have lots of mirrors, and she very much enjoys mirrors, but I think part of it is just having a new little pocket world to explore. She can go anywhere she wants within the room, and that gives her something new to explore on her own---something she doesn't get a lot of.
When we ate in public on the trip---one trip to Wendys and one to the hotel breakfast buffet, and when we went to the Target to get Freddy some last minute things, I realized something interesting. It doesn't bother me when Janey gets stared at anymore, not really at all. She was stared at plenty, but although I noticed it, I was able to pretty much ignore it. Or else I thought "Yeah, here's one of those kids with autism you hear so much about in the press, live and in person! Feast your eyes!" It was a bit of an in your face attitude I felt, and believe me, that is not an attitude that comes easily to me. But as Janey gets bigger, she stands out more and more, and unless we keep her out of sight at all times, she's going to be stared at. And...so be it. Especially in the Target, there were plenty of odd people that I think warranted more staring than Janey, but that's life.
I also noticed during the trip that we are better able than we used to be to set aside tough moments and remember times as positive. There were certainly screaming moments on the trip, times that Janey for no reason we could see just lost it and screamed and bit her arm, times that she was quite unhappy. But we know now that usually, unless something big is going on, these times pass if she's in a generally good mood. She said one of her longest sentences in a while when looking in the mirror---"I have one blue eye and one big eye" She actually has two blue eyes that look the same size to me, but it was a cool moment to hear her thoughts while looking at herself. She also did a lot of singing and dancing---always fun to watch.
As the years go by, I think we are learning to meet Janey in the middle. For someone with typical kids only, this trip might have seemed like not much fun. We did little outside the hotel rooms or the car. We drove around a lot, as Janey loves that. We did get out to dinner, just Tony and me, on Saturday night---thanks, big brother Fred! We dealt with a few meltdowns, but we also laughed a lot. Our lives with Janey are never going to be mainstream. She's going to be stared at, she's going to scream at times, we aren't going to be able to do typical getaway things. But we will also have the fun of watching her joy at little things, and the freedom, in a way, that comes from having a preteen that still gets a thrill out of being with her parents doing not much. We'll keep on going, and take our fun where we can get it.