Michael and I have not had much of an opportunity to go out together since our babysitter left for college last September. So, when a local organization offered an evening program for kids with disabilities and their siblings, we jumped at the opportunity.
David was really excited about his "popcorn party" with Andrew. We had talked about it all day and, since he has just recently acquired the skill of answering yes/no questions, his answer each time I asked if he wanted to go the party was an unequivocal "YETZ."
I should have known the evening was about to unravel when we were accosted in the parking lot by a girl about David's age, wielding a huge stuffed rabbit. She apparently knows David because she called him by name, although I have no idea where they met; it seems David gets out more than I do.
When we finally convinced David that the enthusiastic girl and her furry friend no longer posed an imminent threat, we opened the door to building and were greeted by the strong odor of Pine Sol. I do not think I am exaggerating to say that clouds of the cleaning solution came billowing out. I have never liked the smell of Pine Sol—in fact I am still convinced that Michael used it for cleaning early in our marriage in the hope that I would not ask him to help clean any more. I do not know if David is extremely sensitive to smell like many kids with autism, but suffice it to say that it was not a pleasant fragrance as we entered the building.
When I saw that the evening of fun and frivolity was scheduled in a gymnasium, I knew we were doomed. No amount of the promised popcorn could convince David that he wanted to stay. In his mind, gyms hold basketball games and basketball games have buzzers and David hates buzzers. After the repeated chorus of "timetogohometimetogohometimetogohome" we decided that it was, not surprisingly, time to go home. We paid our $14 for not quite 14 minutes of respite care, which they did cheerfully try to refund to us. I say "cheerfully" because I think the organizers were just secretly delighted that we had decided not to bolt through the doors and sprint back to our car in the parking lot, leaving David for the remaining two hours and sixteen minutes. It wouldn't have worked, anyway, because I am confident that David would have beaten me back to the car.
Has anyone ever needed a respite from respite care because I really did feel like I needed a vacation, or a visit to the spa, or better yet a visit to the spa while on vacation? David must have felt like he needed a vacation, too, because when we arrived home he marched straight through the house, out the back door and proceeded to unwind by winding the swing up and watching it unwind—talk about taking things literally. I settled for a glass of wine and take-out Chinese food. It was not quite the evening we had envisioned, but I would guess it wasn't exactly what David had imagined, either.