‘Aut’ At the Folk Festival
Being 'aut and about' with Charlie is a mantra of sorts for us, and not only with a view to keeping his days (especially weekend ones) activity-filled. It's never 100% for sure how Charlie might react in any community setting, where the careful control exercised in our house and its environs can't be assured. Any venture out has the potential to be an adventure, with a possibly not so happy ending. And, too, every trip is one more effort in a long process to teach Charlie to be in the world, with a view to the time when (at the risk of sounding a bit melodramatic, but such thoughts are constantly on my mind) Jim and I aren't here to take Charlie out and walk beside him.
Saturday—I know, big surprise—Charlie rode his bike and did his share of walking with Jim. It was a fine sunny day and just a bit cool; Jim and Charlie did one of their longer bike rides (12 miles, through 5 different towns) and I did a short and a long walk with Charlie, in the morning and in the evening.
Inbetween, we went to the New Jersey Folk Festival.
It's also 'Ag Field Day' and Rutgers Day (as it's held on the grounds of Rutgers University, the state university of New Jersey and Jim's alma mater twice over).
Charlie once went on a field trip to the agriculture museum at the university and I wondered (based on the way he was looking around at the farm buildings and fences) if he hadn't been there before. He didn't want to get too close to see the horses or the pale pink pigs.
On the other hand, he couldn't avoid seeing dogs at every step and turn. They were all on leashes except for one who had a leash attached to his or her collar, but was chasing after a soccer ball in a big grassy field; Charlie made sure to run the other way. (I also saw a toddler girl on a 'leash' sort of thing and she appeared to be, shall we say, straining her father's arm a bit.)
Charlie fared well amid constant canine encounters. We walked all around the different areas and ended up where some stages were set up. Charlie turned down Jim's offer of a crabcake sandwich and dozed off in the car while Jim and I had a very nice conversation with an old friend of Jim's and her husband.
Afterwards we got Mexican food and actually ate in the restaurant. It's nothing fancy and we weren't there for more than 20 minutes, Charlie pausing from his eating to press his hands over his ears. We haven't eaten out anywhere with him in quite awhile and it was good to attempt this again, and successfully.
On the way home, Charlie let out a wail and grabbed at us, crying. (A delayed reaction to a lot of new things?) Jim kept driving and I turned the radio station from a saxophone playing New Orleans jazz—we were happily listening to the music, but it has a bit of a brassy, harsh edge that has been known to unsettle Charlie—to something much smoother, with some silent, minimalist stretches built in. Charlie still cried some but settled back into his seat and even started smiling after several minutes.
Jim switched the station back to hear Phil Schaap talking about Sharkey Bonano. I've been getting quite an education in jazz history and jazz due to Charlie's current musical preferences—which makes me think of another sort of mantra: Being Charlie's mother, and father, has meant learning about much that we never thought we'd have to learn.
And are glad, very very glad, that we have.