One park, two park; Red park, blue park

It’s been a full weekend so far. It started out a little shaky if I’m honest. Monkey came back from staying the night at his mother’s house and that causes the possibility of him needing to adjust to the change in household. It isn’t a matter of whether he’s coming from my house to his mother’s or the other way around. The point is that the change in household still has it’s effects despite the fact that a divorced household is really all he has ever known. So he is restless. We have thrown the emperor off his groove.

Today was the case of which park to play at. Monkey was antsy when he got back home from mom’s and Mater wanted to play some basketball in the driveway. The two didn’t mix.

I feel for Mater. We get started playing ball together and he is still learning the rules so he needs a little focus from me. Monkey on the other hand is on a rampage like nothing else. Simply running around and playing in the yard wasn’t gonna cut it. So after a couple of times of trying to play basketball and being interrupted by a wandering Monkey, I used my superior problem solving skills by taking my youngest son’s advice to go to the park 😛

What’s to lose? Monkey gets to play on the swings and Mater gets to play some basketball. We’re like the Jackson five except we’re happy and I don’t have a drinking problem.

Off to park one…. the standard park… the preferred park of his Majesty.

But wait!

A sporting event?!?! Other kids dare to use his Majesty’s play ground!?

Monkey, snarls. He throws his fit as he knows we should be stopping at his favorite park. So close… but I must pull away.

The problem is that he doesn’t do well in large groups. Not so much his melting down necessarily, although that can be the case, but that people don’t know how to take someone his size that behaves the way he does around children. When he was younger it was easier. People looked at him with sympathetic eyes and I get this weird nod of approval from conservative parents. It was a weird moment to experience so often. This nod of approval would always come after people confirm for themselves that something is different about Monkey for a reason. Once it was determined that my son was disabled it would be this mighty morphing power-face. It would change from curious (Why does that kid keep screaming gibberish), to confirmation (Oh dear! They shot Bambi, face), to judgment (what a great dad taking care of that poor boy). Well, amazing dad nods and sympathetic smiles change quick once the child breaks five feet in height and weighs in at 100+ lbs. It makes it awkward for other people and his brother. He isn’t ashamed of his brother, but a meltdown in the park is still embarrassing at that age and Mater gets enough character building as it is. Today, we’re shooting for a lighter feel.

This is a point where I feel like it is easy for someone to hold resent when they shouldn’t. There is a reason people are uneasy about him being around their smaller kids. They don’t know him. They don’t know that he is around babies and animals on a regular basis. Strangers aren’t aware that he is a gentle kid. All they can see is a good-sized kid running through the park that could barrel over their kid without being to blame. It makes sense to be cautious or concerned if he is near your child. So I don’t take it personal. However, it doesn’t make for a good visit to the park for anyone. You learn that after a couple encounters with Monkey simply touching a kid on the shoulder or running his fingers through a little girl’s pony tail (because he has a thing for pony tails). It doesn’t go well. For anyone. So we have learned we need a quieter park with less variables as he grows older and bigger.

Off to park number two… Would you believe it… they’re packed! Who knows what that was about either, there were fifteen kids and two adults on a Saturday afternoon. No one had control as it looked like Lord of the Flies with two adults ready to be put on the spit over the fire.

Ok. He knows we’re passing schools and parks, and swing sets. Monkey is now grabbing the back of the headrest. Mater is leaning to the side as he has learned the art of self-preservation over the years. Just a typical dad taking his boys to the park, right?

We push onward.

Boom! Park three is screwed too!!

How in the world are three parks in as many miles all packed. Here I have Mater who just simply wants to play some basketball. The hoop at the house was a no go, and now we are three parks in to nothing but unsuitable situations for, Monkey. Mater, as always, starts suggesting that it’s no big deal and we can just go back home. As for dad… well… dad was having a Griswold moment. My Mater want’s to play basketball and I got a Monkey that needs to swing. We’re getting to Wally World!

Eureka! There’s a little park in the back of that neighborhood! Right, Mater?! We can go there! There be swings, and there be a hoop. There be our destiny!!

*Classic Mater & Dad fist bump* We’ve got this.

We get to the desolate park. Too far from schools to be foiled yet again. Monkey takes to his swing, Mater takes to the court, and dad takes a seat on the bench. The sun is out, and the peasants have rejoiced. We made it to the park!

All in all it was a great day. Mater and I managed to get a game of one on one in there while Monkey was content on his swing. What I’ve learned is you can’t always do the things you want to do with (of for) your child without autism, but you can always teach them that you don’t let these setbacks be anything more than a story to remember about that time that you made it to the park.

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