Word Search book? Check!
6:00 Med? Check!
Wallet and book? Check! (The book is a little book that Greg always carries with him. There is blank paper inside. It is a non essential to us, but not to Greg.)
Oops! Forgot to bring ear buds to plug out crying baby noise. Will come back to haunt us later.
We successfully exit our beach rental to walk to the nearby restaurant. Shit! (How quickly oops turns to shit.) Forgot to cross off the day's schedule on the Magna Doodle. Back to apartment. Cross off day's activities. Leave for restaurant again.
Families who want to venture out with their adult children who have autism need a check list, or, they need to decide if DINNER is really necessary. After a day at the beach, this is a no brainer. The family will be hungry.
After checking the checklist to validate all check marks, the family wisely chooses a restaurant on the busy July 4th week-end at a beach in New Jersey. Don't even dare to ask us why we choose the busiest week of the summer for vacation. We suffer from temporary/permanent madness caused by dealing daily with the irrational nature of autism. Easy answer, but false. We had a wedding to attend and decided to make a long vacation week out of it.
No city shall be named, nor shall we include the restaurant of choice in case you recognize us as the family that tried to silence our hysterical son.
At said restaurant, there cannot be a line outside. We don't wait very well. There cannot be temperatures of over 90 degrees. We hate heat. There cannot be screaming babies nearby. That hurts our ears. "Why the 'we'?" you ask. After all, the entire family is not autistic. "We" is plural because our family has to make choices that ordinary folk simply cannot fathom. "We" are the ones who are sorely disappointed if the meal is stressful on everyone around us. "We" sometimes have to exit out a side door and slink away when our son's stressful behaviors exacerbate to the point of "it is impossible to remain here."
Yes. We also dodge a bullet by choosing a table next to an infant rather than a fussing five-year-old. We hope to cajole Greg out of his fear of the crying baby noise by pulling out everything we brought to entertain him. Naturally.
Remember this? We forgot the ear buds!
Choosing food is always a source of contention. A kaiser roll with sesame seeds? Greg refuses to eat it. "No seeds!" A burger too rare? Greg refuses to eat it. Mushy fries? Again, Greg repeats, "Mom will eat it." Coke? Difficult to mess that up. We know, however, that Coke makes Greg burp, and burp loudly, a funny/bad habit that he learned in high school that still entertains him highly. We say, "Greg, say 'excuse me'." He dutifully repeats, "Excuse me." Now, if that family next to us, the family that heard the belch above all other din, does not realize that we are special by this point of the meal, then perhaps they do not reside on this planet. We Are Everywhere!
Jay and I roll our eyes at each other in a knowing way when all foods show up perfectly prepared. At the exact moment when we realize everything is perfect, we are actually going to finish our meal, Greg laughs! Out loud. Hysterically. He throws in a few "perfect" comments, as if he is telling himself a joke and continues his laughter. To cover the hysteria as best we can, we pretend that we told a humdinger of a joke and laugh with him.
I never have to pay the check. Greg and I exit quickly, leaving Jay to handle all finalities. Once outside, we are free. Free to look forward to the remainder of the week and all other meals out.
If you are asking yourselves, "Why don't you stay home and cook your meals while on vacation?" then you likely have no sense of adventure. Or, you have too much common sense. Or, you don't live on the edge. We, on the other hand, are adventurous, we have little common sense and we live on the edge.
It's normal to go out to dinner. We pretend, like other families with special children, to be normal if just for that one, very special moment in life.