Friday, October 10, 2008

A Quiet Freedom

My son has been swimming lately. Swimming is usually something that we only do during the summer months at the beach or at our local pond. But we’ve been going to a local pool (Duxbury, MA) and watching Nick swim. I am really impressed with him. He has great speed and can endure swimming consecutive laps. I really had no clue about his endurance; it’s hard to judge in a pond when other people are around, and I won’t allow him to swim out too far in the ocean. So, needless-to-say, I was a bit nervous about him swimming through the deep end for the first time wondering if he could tread water without problems. Well, not only could he tread water very well, he also dove off the diving board—a very first. I was very impressed. I also had him try on a set of duck flippers (I have no idea what they’re called) I just know that they’re rubber and look like duck feet but much larger (Can you tell that I’m not an avid swimmer?). Once he put them on, he was off doing laps like a human duck—only better! Really, he shot across the pool like a rocket. I just had to laugh. Not a funny laugh but a proud laugh!
This weekend, mom’s getting in (um, that would be me!).

It’s just so nice to be able to spend time with Nick and enjoy doing everything with him. In the past we weren't always able to go swimming at the pool, and really haven’t (guilt, guilt) because Meghan was always so much more difficult—so much time and energy would be spent running after her and making sure that she stayed safe—we couldn’t really have a good time out, even though we suppressed that feeling as much as possible. I can honestly say that life wasn’t always as fair for Nick. During most of our outings we would have to leave early or forgo the event entirely because Meghan would have had trouble being there. I’ve worked hard for many years trying to keep this “scale of fairness” level for both my kids, but not always as successful when you really have to consider a behaviorally challenging child. One day we were on vacation and out at a restaurant enjoying ourselves immensely. We were in downtown Provincetown and dining out at an outside area of a restaurant and enjoying the scenery, the wine, the food; However, Meghan became very behavioral, very quickly. Sometimes I would get a warning—a code of mercy—ahead of time and I could tell my husband or my brother (who helped me) to take her for a walk—quickly. But in this case, it was too late. She smashed everything on the table and tried to tip the table over as well. The poor patrons of the restaurant were either so disturbed by what they had witnessed (one apparently fainted from what I was told) or they were the victim of coke soaked down their back from the sodas that used to be on our table. That moment was so surreal, as if everything was in slow motion … that’s what it’s like to have something like that happen. People, however were very kind, especially the guy with coke down his back—we offered to pay for their dinner, buy him a new shirt, etc. but he refused; so did the restaurant when we offered to pay for broken dishware—they all seemed to understand—the grace of our fellow man. My son, however, continued to eat (apparently his meal was sacrificed) and laughed … as if simply amused by his sister’s behavior. I, on the other hand, was not as amused and grabbed Meghan by the hand as we practically jumped the stonewall surrounding the patio area and booked it down the street—yeah, that’s right … getting the hell outta there was the only thing on my mind!

This is just one example of how difficult things could get if we were not prepared. I won’t even begin to tell you about the time that she (so easily) plugged up a toilet in a one-stall ladies room of another restaurant and had started the flood of deluge because she wouldn’t stop flushing the toilet. I had to call my husband on his cell phone to have him “yell fire” or anything to divert the long line that had, by then, formed (and were knocking) outside the ladies room—once cleared, we ran for the hills!! Yeah, like you wouldn’t ;)

Needless-to-say, I would be on the verge of an anxiety attack if we had dinner out again. Why I’m not a raging alcoholic is beyond me??

So things are much easier these days, I know that Meghan is very happy at her new school; she has so many teacher and helpers who work with her and provide her with many opportunities when we are not with her. So I don’t have to feel so guilty about saying that we are enjoying spending more quality time with Nick, and doing far more things (and everything for that matter) than we would/could have otherwise: like swimming in the community pool without worry, eating out without a scene, and even try skiing this winter.

A quiet freedom to relish in, but we’ve got a life to live.


Tanya @ Teenautism said...

That's great about Nick's swimming. Nigel also really enjoys it. He seems to be very comfortable in the water.

I think we all need awards for having to do damage control so many times! Restaurants were always so hard! I'm glad that now you're able to enjoy some "damage-free" time - you've earned it!

Holly Nappi Collins said...

Thanks, Tanya!!