Es-ca-pades

“So don’t hold back, just have a good time
We’ll make the rules up as we go along
And break them all if we’re not havin fun
Come on baby let’s get away”

~Janet Jackson, Escapade
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Lately we’ve been daring to live.

To get out.

Autism once held us back. The inability to wait, the tendency to bolt, the overstimulation, the tantrums and unpredictable behavior. All of these factors have, in the past, caused us to opt out, stay home, close the door to what we could be.

My friend Carrie often encouraged me that getting out and helping Rhema learn to navigate the world through experience was just as important as the extra speech therapy sessions. Sure there will be some meltdowns, she’d day. Some improvising, some fast getaways and outings cut short, some heart wrenching and frustrating moments… that’s ok. There will be some funny and thrilling moments, too, and memories made that make it all worth it.

Honestly, there was a time when we dreaded the weekends – there was no set schedule or direction and autism shocked us every Saturday and Sunday, and everything inside our walls fell apart.

Emily Colson in Dancing with Max faced similar circumstances and felt like a hostage in her own home because of her son’s challenges. But one day she decided to believe that it was her last day alive. She asked herself how she would spend her last day. She imagined all of the things she longed to do and really experience with her boy – going to the beach, walking in the city, running in the water. She wouldn’t care what anyone thought if things didn’t go well. So she got up out of her pity party and she and her son lived life.

Perhaps for us it was Brandon’s absence over the past two years. Maybe it taught us something about cherishing family and “redeeming the time.” Now we actually look forward to venturing out, doing things together, Rhema right there with us.

So this year we had our first successful outing to a restaurant.

We took a 2-day trip to Storyland.

We took a train ride with grandparents and cousins.

We went to the New England Aquarium.

It may sound simple, but these are huge, HUGE accomplishments. And they have not been without incident, mind you! But these are things that a short time ago I could not have imagined doing, never even considered a possibility.

This weekend we decided to try another first: pumpkin picking. It wasn’t until we had parked the car and I saw the crowds and the wide open spaces that I looked at B, panicked. “Um. How are we going to do this???” And the Hooah-Hooah-airborne-battle-tested-West Point trained-Chinook-pilot-soldier-boy just shrugged at me like I have no earthly i-dear.

And I thought, God you’re good because you make every day of my life an adventure with these people you gave me and called family.

But the pumpkin patch we did. And a hayride. And apple cider and donuts. And non-dairy cotton-candy slush. Oh, it tasted sweet, y’all…

With arms raised high, we did it! In our own crazy, hard, beautiful, offbeat, wonder-filled way.

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Note: Rhema’s school has done a great job of getting her out in the community and giving her the tools to succeed in public. Her amazing teachers have helped make days like this so very possible for us!

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21 thoughts on “Es-ca-pades

  1. Wonderful! We are also trying to get Erik out more than we used to. I can’t say it is easy… most of the time I spend trying to keep him from running off and distracting him from tantrums. I come home exhausted and stressed out. But at least he is getting out, little by little, into the real world where he lives, to experience and begin to understand. I hope you have many more beautiful days like this xx

  2. Props to you for choosing live life even if it’s so risky and scary.
    Praise God for family time and wonderful memories you made. Those pictures are priceless.
    Praise God for the small and BIG victories.
    Praise God for your willingness to grow and let go and trust God. As the author you mentioned implied, life really is too short to not take some risks. It’s not an easy process (I’m learning the hard way), but so worth it.
    So proud of you and your family, Neily. Continue to let your light shine and give all the glory to God. Our Abba Father is so pleased with you.
    Love you guys!!!

  3. It sounds like you had a wonderful, normal day!! Praise the Lord for a beautiful day with your beautiful family. And I love the last picture with Rhema’s arms up – like she’s just scored a touchdown – like she knows she just scored!

  4. Okay, I had chills reading this. YES!!! That is so awesome. I can’t believe you did the aquarium…it’s always so crazy crowded! I am celebrating with you. I can understand these feelings…dreading the days without a “plan,” and rejoicing when we get through something like the fireworks for the first time, or the zoo. I am so glad you are getting out and living!!

  5. Look at the happy faces! I especially love the photo of Hope eating. She looks SO happy. Your friend is right…getting out there IS just as important as therapy….maybe even more important. For you all. Happy you all are so brave. 🙂

  6. I’m glad you went. I’m glad both your girls get to experience the world and get to share adventures. Even in the middle of all the worry, I have never been one to hold back or not do something because of my sons challenges. Some days everything turns out great and I think “why do I worry about going out?” and some days I end up in tears and wonder “why do I even try?”. But I always pick up and go again to try the next thing. Keep on living lady. Keep on living.

  7. Oh, I am just so happy for you. You were picking pumpkins and we were picking apples. I know how big this was for you! The pictures are just beautiful. I love Brandon’s response. I can’t tell you how many times Dave and I have looked at each other and said just with our eyes, “how the heck are we going to do this one?” Your writing as always touched my heart.

  8. I feel so happy when I read about these giant steps!

    We, too, sat through our first family meal in a restaurant this year, and I felt so completely triumphant that we had worked together as a team and been successful, after years and tears of failed attempts.

    Bravo!

  9. I have been reading your blog for two years (I think). I am so happy for you and Rhema. She is making amazing progress. God is great and so happy for your blessings!

  10. Now that Kathryn is more verbal, I am AMAZED at the things she is saying about these “outings” we were taking over 2 years ago! Be assured that your courageous forays are wonderful for your daughters, and never underestimate what GOOD it’s doing for Rhema. I thank you for sharing. I am soaking up your writings, your faith, your honesty. And I look at those little backward sandals that speak volumes…literally and figuratively! Kathryn (who turns six tomorrow), is just starting to put her shoes on the right feet. Praise God! I don’t know where you live, but I sure wish you lived next door! You’re such an encouragement to me! Thank you again, and God bless you and your family!

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