In the movie, Pretty Woman, the Julia Roberts character, Vivian describes herself by saying, "I'm actually, no I'm not a planner. I would say I'm a kinda fly by the seat of your pants gal, you know moment to moment." I have never been a very spontaneous person, a "fly by the seat of your pants gal," but spontaneity becomes an even greater challenge with autism introduced into the mix.
As you might guess, David is the polar opposite of spontaneous; you might say rigid, scheduled, deliberate. He does not tolerate change well and we spend a great deal of time preparing him for the next season, next event or trip to the store, next shift in wardrobe. I did not give a second thought, however, to preparing him for our first visit to the splash park, technically a sprayground (how clever) which is close to his school.
We were waiting for some workers to be finished at our house one weekend afternoon, which was irritating David, so Michael and I decided to drive past this splash park. We grabbed a towel and piled into the car without telling the boys where we were going. I wasn't sure exactly where the park was located and my niece, while extremely talented in many areas, shares my sense of direction (or lack thereof) and had given me pretty vague directions.
We did manage to find the park and I knew from David's reaction to that very first glimpse that he was hooked. In fact, he immediately dubbed it the rainbow park in honor of the four curved metal spray arms, each painted a different color of the rainbow. I felt so relieved in the knowledge that David and I could have a new summer hangout with no legwork necessary. I did not have to prepare him for the visit. There would be no coaxing of cajoling. What a tremendous relief.
Still giddy with excitement, we pulled into a parking spot and decided to let the boys spend a few minutes running through the water. As David and Andrew charged up the sidewalk I happened to notice a pile of discarded clothing in a heap behind the blue bench. Did the earlier kids just strip naked? I thought to myself.
And then I heard Andrew yell sternly, "David, NO!" I looked up, but not before I saw the trail going up the sidewalk—first Crocs (called pool shoes in David's vernacular), then a red shirt, followed by David's shorts a few feet away. I looked up just in time to see the SpongeBob Squarepants undies making their descent.
In all my nonchalance about the rainbow park, I had neglected to tell David that it was okay to get his clothes wet.
For the time being, we are probably not to be classified as an impulsive family. The closest David has come to being a "fly by the seat your pants" guy was probably that day at the rainbow park—flying up the sidewalk with the seat of his pants exposed. Do you suppose that counts?