Atlantic City Adventure
It certainly sounds like our family. Charlie has always seemed in his natural element when in the water and, in particular, in the ocean. He is, as my longtime blog-friend Mom-NOS once wrote of her son Bud, a water-based boy.
The "boy who makes waves," for whom–in love of whom–his family is leaving Iowa behind and seeking the ocean, is a young man named Michael, as his father, Joe Blair, writes in the October 9th New York Times.
“I love you,” I say. It’s a profession. It’s also a self-rebuke.
“Love,” Mike says a few minutes later. “I love you. Love you. I love. I love you. You.”
After Mike seems to be done with his response, I ask, “How would you like to live by the ocean?”
This brings a big smile. He is looking off. Away. At something far. The words wave and wave. “Ocean,” he says.
Nothing like the ocean: Oh yes.
Saturday we loaded up the car, complete with kayak. We were headed to Atlantic City, where I was scheduled to speak at a panel on working with the media at the annual AutismNJ conference. Jim figured that, while I was at the conference, he and Charlie could go for a kayak ride as we'd be down at the Jersey shore and casinos and outlet malls aren't exactly to Charlie's liking (to mine or Jim's either, to be quite honest).
Saturday started with an overcast sky and the wind blowing. After driving about a half-hour on the Garden State Parkway, we heard a whumpf sound from above and beheld the front end of the kayak sliding across the roof, and towards the back, of the black car. One of the bungee cords securing it had come loose (and is now in little tiny bits somewhere on the Parkway). We pulled over and rearranged the remaining bungees and got off at the next exit, where Jim bought six more bungees and strapped the kayak onto the roof of the black car with all of them. We got back on the Parkway and several exits later, Jim and Charlie dropped me off at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
Jim and Charlie headed back north up the Parkway where Charlie communicated a big nope to going into a rest-stop. Jim got them hot dogs and did a radio interview about his book with WBAI in New York. I'd suggested they just come right back and get me and we could all head to the water for the kayaking—-the day had already had more than its quota of too many unusual things going on, not to mention that it was a little distressing to almost lose the kayak (and cause an accident) on the Garden State Parkway.
But after Jim's interview, he and Charlie proceeded to the beach and experienced (it was a windy day) choppier conditions than usual. At one point (as Jim related to me), Jim was paddling as fast as he could with Charlie calling on him to go faster with the waves lapping on the kayak's sides, but it just wasn't gonna happen. Their journey back in the water did prove easier, propelled by the wind and waves.
My panel on the media was in the second to the last time slot (the conference had been going on since Thursday). Still there about 15 people in the audience at our panel and many with questions and comments. Bobbie Gallagher (two of her children on the autism spectrum) and I both spoke about our experiences interacting with the media. My main point was "the media isn't there for you, it's there for itself; figure out your own message and make sure you get it across, whatever questions they ask you."
Bobbie and I had had similar experiences with the mass media, especially in regard to reporters seeking primarily to emphasize (and sensationalize) "how awful life raising an autistic child is," rather than seeing our kids as they are, and on noting all that they can do and learn. Both of us talked about how we'd learned to get our own message about the need for better services and education for our children across, vaccines and other "controversial topics" be d*****d. I described some of my past experiences interacting with the media and talked more than a bit about blogging. I saw quite a few people whom I knew and, when they asked how things are, said they are (because they are) great. Just this thing called school……..
Jim and Charlie picked me up before 6pm and we headed back up the Parkway. Determined to find a certain fish place we've visited in the past that has really really good food, we drove in circles for a bit. It was nearing 8pm when we got our takeout, but I rather think the long wait made everything taste better. Charlie checked out what was inside the styrofoam containers and then opted to eat when we got home.
He was certainly very glad to be home. And so another good time was had by all; such is life with Charlie (especially when we're near the water).
For sure, if there's one point I always hope to get across to the media, that is it.