If you’ve been around Many Hats Mommy for a while, you’ve heard about my friend Cheryl. She has two sons on the spectrum, a now 25 year old with Aspergers syndrome, and an 18 year old who was severely damaged by vaccines and also has cerebral palsy.
I had the privilege of reading this story months ago, and I asked Cheryl’s permission to share it. This story explains why I am doing what I am doing for Autism Awareness month.
It will take us 3 days broken into pieces, but you need to read the whole story, to understand what it was like to have an 11 year old Aspie and a 4 year old who was very sick–could not walk, communicate, or feed himself, among other things. So, settle in and go back 14 years. Watch a mom deal with her boys when they are disappointed they won’t be meeting their dad at the truck stop (hours from home) as they expected…..
I walked out to the van where the boys were waiting with news about meeting Dad. Rain started to fall making a cold day even colder and my spirits as damp as the day. I knew Eric would be disappointed that his Dad was not joining us, and I was not looking forward to handling John alone in a strange place where nobody knew us. At least at home, even though people didn’t understand, they had grown familiar with seeing us around town. People who worked in the local restaurants knew us and had compassion.
I drove around looking at the layout of fast food restaurants. I knew I needed a place with a back door where I could come and go without John having to pass a crowd of people. I knew I needed to be in the back left alone to cope with John and not be bothered or bother others.
A McDonalds fit our needs perfectly. Eric was not happy as his Dad had promised we would eat at Back Yard Burgers, but I knew that was not a place where I could slip in and out with John. I promised Eric he could still go there when we picked up his Dad and the two of them could go together. For now, I needed to feed John and pass some time.
I went through the drive thru and placed our order, two happy meals, extra order of fries, nothing for me. My job was to hold and feed John.
“I thought we were going to go out to eat but inside!” Eric said as I pulled into the drive thru.
“We are, it’s just I can’t hold John, carry a tray of food, juggle paying and all, so this works best. We will circle the building, and go in that back door, sit down and eat. If we need something, we will be inside.” I spoke as I dug for change to pay the lady at the window.
This plan worked well for a few minutes. I managed to get both boys in and the food in one trip and find a table in the far back. To help John cope with the noise, lights, and general atmosphere, I placed him in my lap backwards so that his face was facing mine.
Eric sat across from us and kindly opened both Happy Meals and placed John’s fries and chicken nuggets in a location that was easy for me to reach.
Rain pelted the glass window beside us and I leaned back in the bench and breathed a sigh of relief. John was quiet, and eating one fry after another. Eric was happy talking endlessly about a book he had been reading and ideas he had. I felt normal and happy for a few minutes, like a normal Mom out with her kids.
I relaxed and looked around and then back down at John’s sweet face. I looked back at a happy Eric and thought to myself, this must be what it is like to be a Mom with normal kids out to enjoy the day.
It didn’t last long, our perfect world shattered when John ate his last French fry.
Click here to continue Cheryl’s story.