Summer has officially started! The kids are off of school and we decided to take our first family adventure of the summer to Southern California. When you travel with kids, you always stress out I think. When you travel with a child with Autism, it becomes a new level of stress.
What comfort from home will he want/need?
Will I bring the right clothes that he will want?
What I forget Mickey Mouse?
I was also working a lot of long days so that I could go on vacation without taking time off, so my level of stress on Thursday when we left was very high. And many of the packing and getting ready responsibilites fell on my husband Reuben, and he did a wonderful job!
But we did it, we made it out and on the road that evening and took the long trip down to Santa Barbara, we left quite late so the kids could sleep most of the way. I think that was the best idea we had because they were so excited, that 6 hour drive would have felt like years to them if they were awake for it!
They woke up the next morning in a strange house, in a strange bed, but barely made a sound. We shared one large room, and once he awoke and saw us, he felt at ease. The house was perfect for kids, it included a very secure gate, a playground with slide and swingset, dvd player and every Disney movie ever made, large hot tub, with secure lid. It was perfect!
We played most of the first day at the house my aunt and uncle had rented, it gave Mateo time to adjust to his surroundings and he did so pretty quickly. He never asked for Mickey Mouse once. He never asked for his go to Jacket for security, he never asked for anything from home. All I could think was how grown up he seemed.
The next day we went to see my cousin graduate from UC Santa Barbara, if you have been to a college graduation you will know- they are quite long and extremelely boring for children. My kids, sat quietly and happily for a large part of it. Mateo played some Angry Birds, took some walks with his Dad to the lagoon, but I was amazed by how well he and Maya behaved.
Then we went to lunch in downtown Santa Barbara, walked around State Street, the beach and the pier. Neither one of my kids had one complaint or asked for a thing, they both just went with the flow. I know it won’t be like this forever, I know most brothers and sisters don’t get along like they do, but this trip they were amazing! And I will always remember the incredible time, and how many people kept complimenting us on our sweet kids.
After some fun times in Santa Barbara we headed over to Los Angeles to visit some more family members. We were greeted in LA with Reuben’s Aunt and lots of toys and candy for the kids, and soon after arriving we were back in the car on our way to another family member’s house for a BBQ. It was a weekend of aunts and uncles, cousins and second cousins, strange houses, familiar faces and strangers for Mateo, but he never flinched, no big meltdowns. It was like he felt right at home in the company of his family.
On our way out of town we stopped at Universal Studios. Maya really wanted to visit Hollywood, and look for movie stars. Mateo decided he wanted to go in this thing called iFly. It’s a huge fan that sits under a grate and they dress you like you are skydiving and you fly up with an instructor. I was very nervous. Talk about Sensory Overload. I thought there is a good chance he’s going to FREAK OUT!! I was nervous the whole time he and Reuben were getting ready. When they came out- Mateo looked like a little Astronaut. He smiled at me, he seemed confident. Reuben kept asking him if he wanted to do this- he was very insistent and kept saying “YES!”
Reuben went first, I kept a close eye on Mateo. He still sat there without a worry on his face. Then it was his turn. The instructor started by just letting him get used to hit- he held him over the fan- I thought the wind in his face would completely freak him out- but it didn’t he was smiling the entire time. Then the instructor took Mateo up towards the top. Mateo was still smiling! Then he began swooping him down like Superman, and back up again. I was freaking out for him, but Mateo was fine. He came out and was not scared a bit! Wow- what a fearless kid! He really can take anything thrown at him. He is ready to take on the world, I can see it in his eyes. But am I? No, I definitely am not. But, I couldn’t be more proud of him!
It really was the kind of trip I will remember and look back so fondly on. Many great memories were made in that short weekend. I think of when I was my kids age and how I still hold on to each of those family vacations in my mind, how I cling to remember them. I wonder how my kids will remember this.