Water Boy

Last summer my husband and took our boys to a huge water park that is a few hours drive from where we live. I was excited about the trip, I knew that both boys would love it, but my older son with autism absolutely loves water and I knew that he would have an amazing time.

When it comes to my son, the things that typical children love and get excited about are not the things that usually hold his attention. He doesn't give a crap about presents, holidays or birthdays. Most toys don't interest him unless they make a loud crash being tossed off the top of the staircase, or can be broken into tiny pieces and shoved in the air vents in the floors of our house. No matter how much you want him to, he just isn't going to be getting all pumped up about anything that works for the average 7 year old. It can be a bit of a bummer.

This was going to be different, and I knew it. He was going to LOVE all the water and it was going to be awesome. He did love it, as I knew he would. I love taking him swimming in general because it is one activity where he is indistinguishable from any other kid. He is just a boy, splashing in the water and having a great time like any other kid and there is no flashing red light over his head saying, "See this weird kid? He isn't doing what the other kids are doing. He is different, he doesn't fit in." Most of the time that light is flashing, and it is impossible for someone not to notice how my child is different. In the water we are just mother and son, having fun and playing like everyone else. I love it.

He is too small for most of the water slides, but they did have a few that were made for smaller children. This particular structure wasn't being used by many people at the park that day, and he and I would climb the stairs, hold hands and slide down these two little slides that were side by side. We'd come to the end of the slide and get up and run around to do it all over again. We must have went 30 times.

The group I was with decided to go over to another little area intended for children. It was mostly a pool, but had a few cool things as well as another slide of a different kind. This slide had a line and my son wasn't doing too well understanding the "wait for our turn" concept. He started getting frustrated, and when he gets frustrated/angry/upset/excited he bites the fleshy part of his left palm. He has been doing it for years, and he actually has quite the callus there. Anyway, I was trying to keep him calm, talking to him and telling him we were going to get to slide soon. I heard a woman behind us in line say to whoever she was with, "Look at the kid, biting himself! What is wrong with him?" Now, had this been said without the obvious disgust and horror in her voice It probably would not have affected me like it did. It was taking everything in me to to try to keep him calm. When I turned around and saw her staring with this look of disgust on her face I felt murder in my heart. He was doing pretty good waiting, considering. I snapped at the woman, "Look, he has autism. Waiting is hard for him. He bites when he is frustrated, if you don't like it, don't look at him."

In that moment, my day was almost ruined. I felt the tears stinging behind my eyes. I felt the familiar self pity, the "why does everything have to be so hard all the damn time" feeling coming over me. All the sudden I just thought, "what the **** am I doing? Why am I putting either of us through this bullshit?"

We got out of that line and went back to our side by side water slides, and spent the rest of the day hand in hand, sliding.

It is one of the best days we have ever spent together. I almost let someone take that from me. I'm glad I didn't.

autimom autimom
31-35, F
2 Responses Feb 10, 2009

I love your attitude. Congratulations for being better than that woman, she should be ashamed of herself! I'm glad you didn't let this incident ruin your day, it would have been so easy to have just given in to frustration and gone home. But then you wouldn't have had that positive time with your son and you both would have suffered for it.<br />
<br />
You deserve the wonderful time you had, you deserve to have fun and enjoy each other, your child is so lucky that you are strong enough to shrug off such intolerance.<br />
Rock on!

What a great post. And I applaud you for doing such a great job with your son. I don't know that I would have been able to be as even-tempered as you were with that woman. Lord knows, if she had any sense, she would have been ashamed of herself.