Travels

Our Walgreens is very well-stocked  I was pretty pleased to find out that I'm not the only one who considers parking a more than vexing issue. Despite being a California girl, I didn't get my license till after I'd graduated from high school. I rarely drove for years, partially because I went to college back East (i.e., here in New Jersey) and had no need for a car (much less an actual car). I was quite content to let my mom, sister, or dad drive me around. In graduate school I rode my bike in all sorts of weather. It was really only after that, for my first job in St. Louis, Missouri, and my second job in St. Paul, Minnesota, that I started to have to drive regularly. Though you can imagine the hijinks for an under-experienced originally from California mother with a toddler who's just not like the other children in daycare in the backseat, driving a low-slung Saturn in January down Summit Avenue in St. Paul—but I digress.


Being Charlie's mother has meant I've had to learn to do a lot of things that Previous Me would have shrunk from. Aside from
parallel parking, swimming is at the top of the list: I couldn't swim until some 6 or 7 years ago, only learning when I'd take Charlie to swim in the evening at an indoor pool. Without me splashing after him, he would have swum straight into a water aerobics class or into the lap lanes. Others things I've found myself attempting include figuring out how to get Charlie to take medicine in sticky syrupy form and, after many sticky moments when most of the medicine ended up on the floor and Jim and me, pills; talking back to certain persons in authority and, with Jim, telling them we think they're completely wrong (can you believe I was once upon a time quiet, shy, timid; really quiet). And also:


Driving with a child on the verge of a major anxiety/panic sort of attack on the highway.


Resigning from a tenure-track professor position to take care of Charlie.


Moving in with my in-laws. (There, I said it.)


Watching videos of dancing dinosaurs and Australians in Star Trek-esque shirts so many times I can perform all the songs, and the dance movements.


Charlie and I did a good 45-minutes of the last item Thursday night. 

He'd had a good day at school (his third in a row) (!!!). I could tell he was getting pretty frustrated when the words he typed into the search box didn't bring up any results he wanted, but he handled that well and finally told me that he was done watching. Throughout, I sat down on a mini-pile of blankets and coats (these had been on the couch, but Charlie had cast them to the floor) and, when Charlie found a video that he wanted to watch, sat and watched with him. Believe me, there's plenty other videos I'd much rather watch, but there's nothing like sharing some moments with Charlie.


Often those moments are pretty much mundane,
grocery shopping, doctor's appointments, Walgreen's where I had the chance to study the displays in the photo the other day, as the line at the pharmacy was slow. If you had told me that a few towns in suburban New Jersey would comprise the settings of most of my days, I would have shaken my head, no thanks. Charlie used to like to make trips into New York but, at this time, the noise and unpredictability of things have made him prefer to be a homebody. Given the difficulties he's had, Jim and I have definitely felt, better to ensure Charlie's in settings where he knows he'll be comfortable and that he's familiar with.


In other words, we're not doing a lot of traveling these days. I have had traveling in my thoughts as I've been wrapped up in
planning for a trip to Greece with students, from figuring out who exactly is going to who's getting a scholarship to who's going to be roommates with who, etc.. Really, if you had asked me even two or three years ago if I'd taken a group of students to a foreign country, I would have looked at you as if you'd suggested something quite outlandish indeed. The very thought of such an endeavor, not to mention the idea of leaving Charlie and Jim and going across an ocean some time zones away—this was unthinkable. And then back in March of this year, I found myself doing just that. 

It was a wonderful trip with some (at times very) trying moments. Being in Greece with a dozen-plus undergraduates has its challenges, but none of these nearly as difficult as many things we've faced with Charlie. It could be said, all those years of taking care of him may well have been very good preparation for traveling around a foreign country with college students.


It feels like a huge fantasy: I've been nursing the hope that, who knows if one day, Jim and Charlie and I can all travel to some place like Greece, all together. Maybe it'll never happen. Maybe it will. I'm glad to entertain the possibility and the hope of broader horizons for Charlie. Certainly our life with him has shown us, there's no limits to what experiences one might find oneself in; to how far one might travel.

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Comments
10 Responses to “Travels”
  1. emma says:

    Yes, I to have become much more assertive as they say, although I still haven’t learned to drive :-).
    Although many of these things I now find myself doing, weren’t high on my list of things to do, and as a teenager I no doubt scorned the thought of most – I think enjoying the mundane is to a large extent what life is all about, forget all those higher notions.
    I would be great if all 3 of you could come to Greece!

  2. emma says:

    “it” would be great – not “I” would be great 🙂

  3. Bonnie says:

    I think anything is possible with our kids! Who knows, Charlie may just request to go to Greece someday, and if he does, I have no doubt he would prepare himself to do what needs to be done. I notice when my son has a desire, suddenly, lots of issues go out the window in order to achieve what he wants! I love this post by the way, so relatable!

  4. Bonnie says:

    I think anything is possible with our kids! Who knows, Charlie may just request to go to Greece someday, and if he does, I have no doubt he would prepare himself to do what needs to be done. I notice when my son has a desire, suddenly, lots of issues go out the window in order to achieve what he wants! I love this post by the way, so relatable!

  5. farmwifetwo says:

    We want to go to Disney world. Won’t make it this year. Parents won’t be there next year… so maybe in 2yrs????
    We haven’t gone far either since the younger’s a runner. But we do go to the Fair every Thxgiving (cdn) and he loves the rides…. Thankgoodness he can go on most of them alone 🙂

  6. kim says:

    I loved this post, Kristina. I too used to be extremely shy. I’m still reserved, but my fear of speaking up is a thing of the past, and of course I owe that to my son and years of advocating for him. It is why I honestly feel like my life has been made so much better because of him–he’s taught me so much more than I have taught him. The things that I know now…
    Q: How do you make God laugh?
    A: Tell him your plans.

  7. kim says:

    I loved this post, Kristina. I too used to be extremely shy. I’m still reserved, but my fear of speaking up is a thing of the past, and of course I owe that to my son and years of advocating for him. It is why I honestly feel like my life has been made so much better because of him–he’s taught me so much more than I have taught him. The things that I know now…
    Q: How do you make God laugh?
    A: Tell him your plans.

  8. Regina says:

    Kristina,
    Very glad to hear that school was good! This is already sounding like a positive change.
    Funny – maybe it’s a bay area thing – I took rapid transit for so long that I was a driving late bloomer and at first it was like Woody Allen in “Annie Hall”. (My hat’s off to you my dear – I’ve driven in NJ – for two weeks. You folks are made of stern stuff!).
    If someone had told me 13 years ago some of the things that I would be doing now, I don’t know as I would have believed it; life is certainly one unpredictable sea cruise.
    Warm wishes to Charlie, you and Jim.

  9. I got my license while pregnant at the end of high school. The boy friends mother taught me how to with the family station wagon (he was oldest of 9 kids in a Catholic family) when you went to College in NJ your family moved out with you or did you mean they drove you around in CA? I dont think I ever read that you have a sister before? Is she older or younger?
    I drove freeways out here from NJ in 96 and then two yrs later stopped doing them when autism dx’s as too hard here on these freeways, was easier on Rte 78 or 22 in NJ

  10. autismvox says:

    @Bonnie, Sometimes we do avoid the freeway, depending on what’s going on with Charlie…..
    My family stayed in NJ when I went to college and they drove me everywhere in CA. I have to admit I’m still a but hesitant about driving around!
    @Regina, maybe it is a bay area thing. I drive every day now in some places that would have terrified me even to be a passenger when I was younger! Like the sea cruise metaphor….
    @kim, ha! I try not to have plans now or maybe just sketches and wait for the call for revisions!
    @emma, a couple of people have asked if Charlie and Jim could come. Jim would love to come to Greece, I suspect Charlie would not be happy, not to mention a 13 hour plane ride! But someday…in the meantime, envisioning a Saturday of trip to our usual haunts. Often feel grateful we can even make our way through those.
    @Bonnie, I guess if Charlie himself went to Greece he could help him to all the worry beads he might desire!
    @farmwifetwo, we’ve yet to take Charlie to Disneyland/world. It’s often been asked about by my family, as they’re in (northern) California. I guess Jim and I have been so long hesitant about the over-stimulation of the rides and everything and are not sure it’s worth it to go in, and then have Charlie want to leave. Charlie has not been interested in rides this year.

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