Runnings errands with two small children is no easy feat. When Ash was a baby it was easier. He stayed in the carseat the whole time, even inside the store.
Once two mobile entities come into play, it gets harder. They do not bolt in the same direction.
Add Tyler’s autism into the mix and going out alone with them becomes a mythological trial of Hercules.
So for a long time I was trapped at home with the boys. Need groceries…gonna have to wait for the hubs to get home from work. Bored…get used to it. See Facebook pictures of families at pools or at restaurants…how alien and strange.
Recently I decided I was getting out of the house again. Fast food places with playgrounds and pet stores are frequent haunts for us.
If I am either super brave or super desperate, like today, we go to the grocery store and pray one of those special car carts are available. It seats two in the car part.
As we were leaving I was politely trying to explain to the cashier that I couldn’t listen to all the instructions for surveys and double points on gas because the boys were more than ready to go.
I look over at Ash and he is bolting for the front door. I call him to no avail, so I go straight into a run and catch him as he is leaving the store right into the busy parking lot. I was terrified. I barely caught him in time.
I go back for Tyler and the groceries and the whole store watches as I struggle out of the store with two small children and a cart that won’t turn.
I was angry everyone watched. I was angry no one offered to help. I was angry the cashier thought it would be a good idea to give me a five minute long speech when I was obviously struggling to control two small children.
As I got into my seat and started my car. A lady with a baby had walked up to the car next to ours. When my engine started, she looked over her shoulder and gave me a really nasty look.
A look I recognized.
So I waited until her baby was secure in her carseat and the lady had moved to the back of the car to unload her groceries. Even though there had been plenty of room for me to leave before then.
But even though it has been four years, and my current grocery store hurdles look very different, I still remember going with just the one baby. At the time, that wasn’t easy.
I almost didn’t even notice her. Our lives are so hectic and filled with struggles, that seeing moments that we can respond to is really hard.
It was so easy to wait for this lady to safely secure her baby girl before pulling away. How many of these moments am I blind to?
I read a Facebook post about the importance of caring about your community and country. Investing and sacrificing for your neighbors can turn a broken place into one of growth and strength.
That is what I want my autism advocacy to do. We have no grants we have applied for. We have not asked for any assistance or free services. I am not raising money and support for Tyler.
I am doing it for our community and our children. No family should have to raise a special needs child without professional guidance. No family should be broken by this. No child should feel broken. No community can be strong without understanding its children and the needs of their neighbors. No person is whole unless they understand the people around them.
People don’t understand autism. They don’t understand Spina Bifida. They don’t understand Down Syndrome. We see children with cancer and birth defects and disorders and we see an object of sympathy. We don’t see people. We don’t see a forming adult. We don’t see their potential…just their ticking clock.
I do it. I see a clock and a broken family. I am wrong.
I dream of a better world and of a stronger community. A proud community. And that community is one where you can take your baby and your kids out of your house and into that community.
One hard to see moment at a time is what it is going to take. I commit to opening my eyes. Will you do this with me?
From my heart,
http://www.walknowforautismspeaks.org/arkansas/rflinchum for another hard to see moment
(C) Rachel Flinchum 8/24/2013