Peter had field day at his school today. Special things at Peter's school are always a struggle for me. For my "neuro-typical" kids, field day causes much excitement over time off from doing work and the fun of competition. (I use neuro-typical because I dislike the word "normal" because that would imply that Peter is abnormal...and that's too negative for me. Peter's normal is just different from everyone else's normal!)
Peter doesn't "get" field day. If he participates, it's really more like a rote listening of commands("wait in line" "hold the ball" "walk to the cone" etc.) than any kind of excitement over competition. Peter doesn't "get" competition, either.
It is hard to see him mixed in with his neuro-typical peers. There is no mask that can hide the vast differences between Peter and the other kids in his age group. It twists the grief knife in my heart a bit to see the other kids and think that this is what he would be like if he wasn't so affected by Autism.
Going to these types of things for Peter is also hard because, even though he realizes I'm there, it doesn't seem to really matter to him. He acknowledges that I'm there but there is no connection that my other kids would make that "I'm so happy Mom is here to see me. I'm so glad she brought the baby and I can feel important showing off my little sister." As a mom we are supposed to give all we have(and I do)....but it really is hard when there's almost never any positive reaction shown in return. I know I'm not supposed to feel that way, but I do. Sometimes being Peter's mom is just hard.
And then there's the fear of what I'm actually going to see while I'm there. Will he freak out at all? Will my presence make him act out and not follow his teachers? Will he freak out when I leave and he stays at school? Will I have to bring him home with me?
But if I don't go, I will feel guilty about it all day! So, the guilt over not going won out over all my other concerns.....
...And I'm glad I went because it went just fine....well, "Peter fine", that is.
The first activity they did was a three legged race. He got paired up with a little boy from a regular 3rd grade class. I held my breath at first because I wasn't sure how the boy was going to react being paired with Peter. The other boys in his class were paired off with each other. But he was very nice to Peter and didn't even complain. I sent up a silent thank-you for that one and a prayer for grace for Peter's partner for his generosity.
Peter missed the relay with the ping pong ball in the spoon because he wandered off to see the tug-of-war. Oh, well...On to the basketball relay, where he threw the ball instead of dribbling. He almost got his shot in and half dribbled, half carried the ball on the way back before passing it to his classmate.
For following directions he earned some time playing with 2 dinosaurs, which he enjoyed more than the races.
After a short wait to let all the other kids finish, we moved on to the next event. Walking over to the area we had to be in, Peter was singing as he walked, "I'm so glad you came." Maybe he was singing his feelings, and maybe not. But I will take it that he meant it....A little gift for Mom!
It was on to the sponge race. The kids had to run a short way to a bucket filled with water, put a sponge in it, and run back to where they started and squeeze the water into another bucket. Peter likes water....actually, loves water. So he waited in line, walked to the other bucket(he would just giggle as everyone prompted him to run, run tow steps, and walk again), and then walked back. He wandered around the area as the other kids had turns and people were cheering. He had another turn and earned time with the dinosaurs again. Occasionally he would walk over and dunk them in the bucket.(He does not get the idea of a race or competition!) But he was having fun. He reminded me of the Disney cartoon, Ferdinand the Bull...."And he just sat quietly and smelled the flowers.".....except for Peter the quote would be "He quietly walked around aimlessly...and occasionally ate the flowers."(!)
Then it was time for snack so his teachers brought him and his 3 friends back up to the classroom. He did not ask to go home. No fits or tantrums or behaviors! Peter just waved a distracted good-bye to me after his teacher took this picture of us.
(Last week I stumbled onto a blog that encourages moms to take pictures with their families. I am very guilty of being the picture taker so there are not a lot of memories with me pictured in them. So, regardless of how I am not thrilled with my body, I am making an effort to be more visibly present. This was my first attempt...ponytail, no make-up and all.)
But it's for my kids...and I will do anything for them...even Field Day and pictures!