I can see that day–that perfect day–as if it happened last week or last month. That perfect day in my boys’ childhood. That normal, perfectly ordinary day.
It was a Monday in late October. One of those days that is bright and warm during the day and cold and crisp as it begins to get dark. It was like so many Mondays at that time in our lives; busy.
I was in graduate school and arranged to have early days on Mondays most semesters. Our Kiddo had swimming class and The Middle Boy and The Youngest had piano lessons on Monday afternoons. Rather than have their sitter take them to their activities, I wanted to take them as much as I could.
This particular Monday, my friend, who also had an autistic son in the swimming class, arranged to take Kiddo with her son. I would pick them up and take them home. I dropped The Middle Boy and The Youngest at their piano teacher’s home and went back to our house to get things ready for dinner.
I had baked chocolate chip cookies the night before and made ice cream sandwiches with the cookies and put them in the freezer. I set the table and folded napkins. There was homemade ice tea in the frig and all that was left to do was put the chicken and potatoes in the oven so that we would have only thirty minutes to wait when we got home. I punctured the potatoes and sprinkled some salt, pepper and paprika on the chicken. The salad could wait until we got home. A very simple meal but one I knew my family–and all three boys–would eat.
Looking at my watch, it was time to pick up The Middle Boy and The Youngest and grabbed my purse and got in the car. I never listened to the radio when driving with my kids–I wanted to hear what they were saying and pay attention to them! I pulled in front of their teacher’s house and the boys tumbled out, and she waved to me. They were happy–good lessons for both–and had had a chance to play with her daughter’s Game Boy. They enjoyed the Game Boy part of waiting for their lessons; since I was such a mean mother I wouldn’t allow them to have one. Each was arguing about some point of one of the games and the bickering and teasing continued down the street as we headed to the Special Rec Swimming Center, where Kiddo had his swimming class.
It was near dusk, and rush hour. Traffic seemed to crawl. Nevertheless, we were five minutes early picking up the boys. I always parked very close to the entrance of the swimming pool and in that cool, crisp air we could feel and smell the warmth and chlorine–the air was heavy with it. I looked out of the car window and could see the lights begin to come on outside of the building. I could see the children–the children with autism–begin to leave the pool area and go to the dressing rooms. It would be a few minutes before The Kiddo and Joshie would be ready–I could see their aide lead them to the changing area.
I ran in and led Kiddo and Joshie by the hands to my car with all of their swimming stuff as well. I put the boys in the car and opened the trunk to put their bags in. It was then it hit me–what I was doing, picking up kids and carpooling–was something very normal, something people with Neuro-Typical children take for granted. I wouldn’t get to do a lot of this in my life with Our Kiddo and I should savor it while I could.
I can still smell the cool, crisp air, the chlorine, see the petrified French fries on the floor of the backseat of my car and hear The Middle Boy and The Youngest bickering about their video game. I can see Frannie’s face when I dropped off Joshie with his soggy gym bag. I can remember Hubby complimenting me on the ice cream sandwiches and asking me if there was anything new. I remember my answer as well–not anything new, honey, not a blessed thing.
Every month is Autism Awareness Month at our house!