Five-year old girl in pink flowing dress, lying flat on the floor, spread eagle in protest of our restaurant seating arrangement. Shrilly, yet clearly, her high-pitched screams announce her intention to only and forever sit next to Mommy. Soon enough, there are no customers at any of the surrounding tables as they have all quickly moved away. Fled, really.
Moments before, an 8-year-old boy, tall for his age, demands to stand and stare at the fish in the tank. Who cares if his entrenchment inconveniently alters the flow of traffic from the kitchen to the tables of folks enjoying all-you-can-eat ribs? What's more important (to his mom, anyway) is the fact the boy's two-year-old brother has discovered the fish, too, and then effectively employed his stealth ninja-like agility to resist any attempt to put him into the high chair. Even better? The two-year-old has recently unlocked the immense power of the scream and knows it's particularly effective in restaurants.
A middle-aged woman sits in the middle of a bustling coffee shop, enjoying her pastry and iced green tea. To the casual observer, heck, to just about anyone, she appears to be a woman enjoying a break from shopping? From errands? From time out with friends? The real cause for joy? For once, she isn't forced to sit in the cramped MRI waiting room (surrounded by injured people and the ambient sound of pointless conversation and lame game shows on the television overhead) while her spouse naps comfortably in a 70 centimeter tube while magnets ping all around him. As she sits there reading her novel, she wonders at how pathetic she must be for enjoying the brief respite so much.
This restaurant is meant for kids, with its overpriced and salt- and fat-laden kids' meals and indoor play place. On a cloudy Tuesday, the place is packed with children burning energy and parents hoping to regain sanity, if only briefly. What could go wrong?
Fast forward, post unhealthy meal, and you will find one incredibly agile 2 year-old at the very top of a dark and curvy tube slide, crying because he wants to be there, but then again, maybe he doesn't. Ideally, the two-year old's older brother and sister would help him find his way back. Unfortunately for him, his older ASD brother has determined that he must experience the joy of the slide, fear be damned. An impasse.
The toddler's mother stands at the bottom of the slide, trying to calmly coax all three children down. Without raising her voice, she reminds the oldest that his brother may not be ready to go down the slide. She calls for the middle one hoping the girl might be able to convince her brothers to make their way down without a scene. In a sing-song voice, Mom tries to convince the littlest that it's really not that far.
Nothing doing. Mom tries climbing the slide far enough that her youngest can see her, but it's steeper than it looks. The play place resembles an elaborate gerbil run. She is nowhere close to the size of a gerbil. What to do? One son wants to play it safe. The other thinks he knows better. And she can't do a darn thing.
Then, the unexpected. A stranger, with three young kids himself, offers to climb up into the gerbil run. She can't imagine how her frightened toddler son will react to the stranger. Nor can she imagine that her by-the-rules, black-and-white son will let his brother slide with someone he doesn't know. But, really, she has no choice but to accept the man's offer. It takes awhile (close to forever) for the man to convince the kids teeming throughout the play structure to pause long enough for him to get down the slide with the two-year old. When he does, the child is beaming from ear to ear.
When Sky was three and Pink P still an infant, we flew off to Japan. Romantic as that may seem, it went a lot like this. The first week we we there, Sky broke his foot. With no car and no knowledge of the area, it wasn't easy getting him to the doctor. Within a week, he broke through his cast. This happened twice. A few weeks after that, he face-planted on my desk, putting a tooth through his cheek. Grossed-out and desperate on a late Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves holding Sky down while the doctor attempted first, novocaine and, then, stitches.
We don't move well. Nothing in our natures makes it easy for us. Doesn't matter, though. Life doesn't stop, or even slow, when everything gets hurled into the air like mortar boards after graduation. Fortunately, perseverance is one of our specialties. Just pray we don't run into you at a restaurant any time soon.