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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Happiest Day

This past Saturday, we went to a little amusement park called Thomas Land.  It's an offshoot of a long beloved Massachusetts attraction, Edaville Railroad.  It's aimed probably at the 3-6 year old demographic, an age we don't have a representative of, but William when he was that age was one of the world's biggest Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends fan, so even now that he is 21, he had an urge to take in the park.  We took Janey along not at all sure how she'd feel about it, but wanting to give it a try.

Well, I would have to say it was Janey's happiest day ever, as the video above of her extremely happy flapping shows.  It was amazing, astonishing, purely wonderful.  She was happy, and often overjoyed, the entire time we were there.  She and Tony rode almost every ride, she danced to the music playing in the park, she rode the Thomas train twice, and even when we were just sitting to rest, she beamed at William like we've never seen before.

Janey looking at her brother William with a hero worship look!
I have to admit I'm not really an amusement park person.  I don't like rides, especially anything that goes around in circles, and I don't like the high prices of the food and souvenirs and park entry.  I almost sort of prided myself on thinking my kids would feel as I did..."Janey has some pretty sophisticated tastes.  She's not into things like amusement parks".  I was wrong.  And I'm very glad I was.

Janey's unprompted wave from the elephant ride
My friend Rebecca sent me a link to this blog post, written by a woman with autism about how strongly she feels joy in the things she loves, what she calls the "obsessive joy" of autism.  It make me think a lot.  I don't think I've ever, ever been as happy as Janey was at the park for as long as she was.  With me, there would always be something holding back the joy a little, even when I was 11 as she is.  I'd worry socially---were the people with me happy?  I'd worry about safety---was the ride going to fall over?  I'd worry about how long
we'd stay---was someone going to make me leave before I wanted to?  I'd worry about food---when were we going to eat?  What would I get to have?  I'd worry about the ride home, about the weather, about anything and everything.  Admittedly, I'm a worrier (less now than at that age, but still...) but I think it's a common thing to have our joy measured with worry or care.  I know Janey has worries and cares, but I think she's able to focus on happiness when happiness is what she is feeling.

Thomas in all his glory!
The world is a scary place lately.  I've read a lot about what people are doing to explain the events in Orlando to their kids.  Sometimes, I am glad I don't have to do that with Janey.  She is unaware of world events.  I'm glad of littler things.  She will be going to a new school for summer school (back to her old school in the fall, but summer school works differently) and I am nervous about that.  Janey isn't.  I don't know if she understood me when I told her about the change, but either way, I am pretty sure she doesn't worry much about the future.  She is very sad in the moment when she is sad, but she is also very happy in the moment that she is happy.  I'm not saying it's a better way to be, or a "gift" of autism, but it simply is what it is, and I am happy she can be that happy.

We might get a season pass next year to Thomas Land.  I don't know if any day will be as special as this past one, but I am pretty sure we'll be visiting Thomas, Percy, James, Toby and all the crew for years to come.

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