On to Chapter Two
Last weekend was a relatively busy one for me and my family. We are usually a bit like hermits but were quite social. Friday night I went out with Shaena to dinner and drinks, which was a blast. Because we stayed out so late, I had a little trouble extracting myself from the comfort of our bed the next morning. A group of old friends, some of whom were visiting from Colorado, gathered Saturday, and we enjoyed a barbecue together.
I had my moments of despair this weekend. Unfortunately, watching the other kids play while Erik quietly clings to us is still quite difficult for me. I remind myself how completely uncool it is to feel sorry for myself, but somehow that doesn't really alleviate the pain that blooms in my chest at those moments. I suppose it is worse because my two girlfriends had their boys at almost the same time as I had mine. Watching the boys play together while Erik sits with us will never be easy, and I already feel like we are being left behind. We attended yet another barbecue on Sunday night. Between the two events, Erik spent exactly zero time with the other children. Once he relaxed, he cuddled up on a stranger's lap to doze off or retreated to where he could spin the wheels on a toy race car. Other children would occasionally come by and try to steal the toy he played with on their way by, but Erik looked blankly at them while their parents stopped the crime in progress, and he was left alone again.
I have to say how much I appreciate the way my friends and the adults who don't know us interact with Erik. He was treated so well by those he climbed on or talked to death (using three words in various combinations). I was reminded by one man that Erik was much more chatty than he was a couple months ago. When one woman asked me if I was looking at preschools for Erik, I chose my words carefully, but they were surprisingly easy to offer to a stranger. I came to the conclusion that "special education" was the correct term to use in this situation, as most people have no idea what "early intervention" is, and Erik is technically out of that program now, anyway. Our facility here is quite well known, and I wanted to give it the credit it deserves while expressing my excitement about Erik attending school there. Instead of going into a long explanation of what Erik has, I discovered it's quite easy to select a couple symptoms from the constellation of those that comprise his syndrome when appropriate or necessary. It is now officially no longer possible to hide the fact that Erik is different in this setting, and I'm exhausted from pretending my double life in therapy and early intervention parent group doesn't exist. The hostess of our second barbecue was very thankful I informed her of Erik's sensitive hearing and difficulty with the noises blenders make, as she was mixing margaritas. I said just enough to get us by, and he was cuddled and cooed over. The other children were scarce and only came across the yard to ask for something to eat or drink occasionally before disappearing again, so Erik stole the entire show.
The best part is that Erik was able to ride the motorcycle Saturday and his beloved all-terrain vehicle on Sunday. The men of our group always gladly oblige his obsession after politely looking to me, his old, stick-in-the-mud mother, for approval. Erik was in heaven. Ironically, the sound of margaritas spinning in a blender sends him into fits, but the farty, trillion-decibel roar of any sort of vehicle is a giant thrill for him.
Our last day of early intervention (summer session) was yesterday. Besides an unexpected visit from the largest spider I have seen outside of captivity (I made certain I was not atop a tuffet), parent group went without a hitch and ended without fanfare. I scored the name and number of another special needs mother who happens to give facials and wax eyebrows in preparation for Erik's first days of day care and preschool. We collected Erik's things, including pasta art, paintings, and end-of-the-year gift bag, from the classroom and made a quiet exit.