Friday – We had been invited to a BBQ but the weather report called for rain and wind courtesy of Hurricane Arthur. Your guess is as good as mine as to why we still went. It probably was a terrible idea and we knew it but we got dressed and headed out. I mean, the hosts had gotten a special permit and reserved a private park for the festivities and had organized lots of food and drinks for the adults and games and giveaways for the kids so we felt like we owed it to them to at least show our faces.
The afternoon got off to a rough start. There was indeed rain and a lot of wind and everyone was huddled under tents and umbrellas – And some just sat in their cars with the heat on. People were using anything they could find to help keep dry or warm; including beach towels and extra t-shirts that had been discarded in the trunks of their cars. Parents were giving their jackets and shirts to the kids. Garbage bags got holes cut in them to make room for heads and arms to go through. It would have almost been funny had we not all been so uncomfortable. I don’t have any explanation for why we all stayed – But we did. The kids weren’t really complaining and there was alcohol.
And then the clouds parted and the sun came out and the temperature rose and people started emerging from their cocoons. It ended up being an awesome day and we had a great time. The kids played volley ball, basketball, football (soccer) and frisbee. They climbed trees and we raced and danced and laughed. At 8 pm the kids were in no rush to leave but we called it a night and headed home. Better to end on a high note instead of waiting for the crash.
Saturday – There was no plan. The kids and I woke up and lazied around a bit. I decided it was a good day to really clean the kids room. It was a gorgeous day so I opened their windows and turned on some music and got to sorting through closets and drawers and tubs. I threw things away and folded clothes and organized stuff. Why do they have so much stuff? I vacuumed and wiped down and even put a smell good apparatus on a shelf. I felt so good when I was done that I was about to do the same thing in my own room when I got a text message; “Are you coming by today?” … Ahm, what? I had totally forgotten that we’d been invited to yet another bbq. I asked the kids if they wanted to go to a party and they both said an enthusiastic yes. We showered and dressed and hit the road.
It turned out to be a really great idea that we went. There were about 6 little boys between the ages of 4 and 7 and they all had a blast. They ran and ran and ran. They played with water guns and the hose. They slid and swung and built Legos. They rode and scooted and climbed. Sometimes Jay did his own thing and sometimes he played with the other kids. Either way, no-one batted an eye. Observing Jays “playing”, one adult attendee did ask me if Jay was autistic to which I said yes and he nodded in understanding and that was it. No judgment, no discomfort, no awkwardness. I later saw them sharing a laugh over a bag of cheese doodles. It was sweet.
At one point I heard Jay asking the party hostess “Where is the cake?” She seemed a little confused by his question so he said “It’s a party. Where is the cake?” Makes sense to me.
Since we were about an hour from home and it was after 10 pm and the kids were still up having fun I agreed to spend the night there. The next morning, after some more playing and breakfast we headed home.
(I highly amused myself by playing with a picture app on my phone to hide the faces of other kids.)
Sunday – We got home around noon and while I was hoping for a quiet close to the weekend the kids were still fully charged so we went to the pool. We had a great time there and eventually went home at around 4pm. At that point you could’ve stuck us all with a skewer; we were done.
On Monday, as you’d expect after a holiday weekend, my co-workers asked how the weekend was. I was able to smile and honestly say it was great. There was no fighting or yelling or meltdowns. Through it all Jay was a champ. Through the busy-ness and the weather storm and the new places and people and through being tired. Through lots of kids and activity and time away from home. He took everything in stride and he was sociable to whatever extent he felt like it and he was delightful. He ate some of a cheese burger and he maneuvered last minute changes to the plan and spur of the moment activities. Weekends like this were completely unthinkable a couple of years ago and I didn’t know if we would ever get here. I am so incredibly grateful that we get to have these experiences and I don’t take one single thing for granted; nor do I ever forget that not all families are so lucky.