I wish there was some place with the familiarity, quiet and comforts that allow Bridger to feel at ease while allowing us to be in public without all the stresses and angst that such appearances cause.
There is a reason why you don’t see very many children with special needs out in public. It is because there are so few places to go that are worth the trouble and challenge it is to be there (not to mention the incredible hassle just to get out the door.) I keep testing that theory and have proven myself right nearly every time. But for the sake of the other four and trying to keep their childhood normal, I keep trying.
My husband is away with Lance on the annual deer hunt (insert audible sickening sigh from me as my sweet, innocent firstborn excitedly donned the blaze orange and jumped in the suburban with all the whiskered men for his first hunt).
My signature recitation to the remaining children is “When the cats are away, the mice play.”
So off went the mice to get some frozen yogurt this evening … off at our normal slug-like speed, that is. After I change Bridger’s diaper, I put his pants and shoes back on (it might surprise you how long it takes to shimmy his long grasshopper legs through some jeans as he thrashes and wiggles). I load him back into his wheelchair, wheel him out, load him in the lift of the van, and then proceed to bend over his chair trying to hook all four tie downs as he yanks my scarf and suffocates me.
We arrive at the fro-yo shop and repeat the last few steps in reverse. We go in and the girls get their treats. Bridger insists on sitting on the bench with the rest of us (and will scccccreeeeeam if he doesn’t) so I lift him up and onto the bench. Then he spots the ipads mounted on the few tables … broken ipads, that is. Does he understand the concept of broken? No. So he proceeds to sccccreeeeeaam and there is no calming, convincing or redirecting him.
I quietly declare, “abort mission” to the others who, pathetically, know what that means. I put Bridger back in his chair, even more difficult this time as he is thrashing and doing his best ironing board imitation while going for the choke hold on my scarf again. (Why do I even bother with accessories??) I am trying to wrangle both of his arms while I push him out. Shoes are flying. He is practically frothing at the mouth while grabbing everything in his path. We are a site for the entire restaurant.
My girls nonchalantly walk out with their yogurt cups, not phased in the least. Repeat the above steps of lifting, loading, tie downs … this time while dodging his kicking feet and whacking hands. I wisely remove the scarf this time before leaning over to fasten the tie downs. He continues his full blown tantrum as the girls and I sit in the car enjoying our ice cream and talking about their day.
3 hours have passed since this latest incident and my left eye has finally stopped twitching.
It is not fun to feel trapped in my house. It is even less fun to have experiences like that in public. This is just a day in the life of our new normal. Yet I am determined that our family life will continue and that when we do things as a family, Bridger will continue to be part of it. Just please refrain from public staring and gawking while we work out these *kinks*.