Elijah, in the back seat, had been crying on and off all morning. A couple of his ABA therapists are on vacation and we've had a lot of time off this week. Today, Thursday, there was nothing on our schedule at all. While I love having time off, I think Elijah misses therapy when he doesn't have it. He loves the constant activity, the constant attention. It's hard to admit, but sometimes I'm not enough for our boy.
I watched out the back of our tinted van windows as a couple of families pulled into the parking lot and unloaded their children from vans, lugging beach equipment and towels on their shoulders.
My eyes welled up. I wish Andy were here, I thought, feeling vulnerable and alone with our screaming child.
This walk on the concrete sidewalk was the second time we'd walked it in the same morning. We'd gone earlier to check out the park upon a recommendation from one of Andy's co-workers/our friend (hi Ann!). I took Elijah on the slide, but soon he noticed the beach from quite a distance and wanted to go in the water (his Cortical Visual Impairment is no match for his aqua-man tendencies). I took him home to get us both changed into swim clothes, wherein lots of crying and screaming and thrashing and head-banging occurred. He doesn't easily forget an unanswered request.
I laid a towel on the sand and then walked Elijah to the water. He was pretty much the happiest kid in the world. The beach was super nice and not too crowded. And while Elijah's been swimming plenty of times, this was my first solo trip. I was nervous. Elijah is getting big and controlling him can sometimes be difficult. Add water to that equation and it can be scary for my 5 foot 3 inch self. But, I did it. I took Elijah swimming by myself with no problems and we had a blast. Just another adventure for our record books.
His daughter clung to him, shy.
Elijah walked over to the dad, grabbed his hand and asked him to splash by moving his hand. The dad complied unphased.
The man's wife and I struck up a conversation. Both of them were so friendly. They continually encouraged their children to interact with Elijah, something I appreciate more than I can possibly express. They treated us with such kindness.
"Show Elijah your snail, Abby," the dad encouraged. "Look how happy Elijah is to be in the water," the mom said.
"It was so nice to meet you," I told the mom.
"What was your name again?" she asked.
"Lisa. And yours?"
Michelle and her husband totally made my day. I was feeling vulnerable and alone. They made me feel accepted. They didn't treat us like we were contagious when they noticed Elijah's differences. Just the opposite, they made an effort to befriend me and encouraged their children to do the same. I'm only wishing I'd gotten her contact info so that we could have gotten together again (someone needs to teach me the art of getting digits from other moms. Is it weird to ask? It seems kind of like dating and it just feels awkward).
I'm so glad that they were so nice. I've found that in navigating the world with a child who happens to have special needs, I've found plenty of nice people and very few mean ones. Good to know.
I don't have any photos from our adventure to the beach today since I was busy trying to make sure Elijah was safe. Instead, I've included these pictures from our annual camping trip earlier this summer.