‘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.

Charlie at 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). 

Jim and Charlie walking on a field at Rutgers University

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.

Charlie looking at some agricultural buildings at Cook College, Rutgers University

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 and Jim walking towards the tents at the New Jersey Folk Festival

Charlie and Jim getting in line for a crab cake sandwich

Charlie and one of many dogs he encountered

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.

Charlie eating a burrito at a (fast food) restaurant

14 Responses to “‘Aut’ At the Folk Festival”
  1. Club 166 says:

    Must admit I get tired just reading about all the bike rides and walks. Don’t know how you two keep up with him.
    Good to hear you all had a great day.

  2. Jill says:

    Looks like you were at B*aja Fresh in my old home town. We live in Hopewell now and we don’t miss E.B. one bit; it’s too crowded and bland.
    The ag museum is great fun for kids. I took my three there when they were little. We saw sheep being sheared, fed apples to horses and watched chicks hatching in an incubator.
    I’m a Rutgers Law School grad and hubby and I still use the swimming pool and the golf course.

  3. Barbara says:

    I get the same feeling here – learning about art since our Teen has decided on that direction. It’s like taking on new sport, learning a different culture.

  4. Louise says:

    So glad that you all had such a good time at the NJFF. Charlie seems to have done extraordinarily well in the face of so much buzzing activity and canine encounters. It was packed there yesterday because of the glorious weather. He seems to have really flourished!
    I also like the way you used a change in musical rhythm to steer Charlie away from distress. He seems very affected by musical beat, tempo, and volume. Since you don’t want to have the “attractive nuisance” of discs in his environment, what about getting a small attachment that allows you to play mP3s through your radio? (Jack uses one all the time as he drives to appointments, and they work very well.)
    It would allow you to control the musical environment a bit more, if you ever need to, rather than just depending on the vagaries of the station’s programmers.

  5. emma says:

    Charlie took his gloves off towards the end! Sounds like a lovely day.

  6. VAB says:

    It occurs to me that you guys have also got to be the physically fit parents on the block!

  7. autismvox says:

    We owe it to a very fit boy!

  8. autismvox says:

    The gloves….definitely one of those “choose your battles” kinds of things.
    Jim and I have been emboldened to search out other festivals and the like in the upcoming months—Charlie seems to like a little random roaming and it was a lowkey way for him to be among other people, without having to interact a lot.
    Somehow, the radio—with its unpredictability—seems the best, and possibly the safest, solution at the moment. I’ve even started playing WMCR and some jazz stations thru iTunes on my computer at home. Charlie gets easily ‘stuck’ on hearing the same songs over and over. He got very upset a couple of times in the car as a result of hearing the same CD over, over, and over. But we’ll certainly keep the mp3 idea in mind, especially should we drive to areas where the stations are unknown.
    I think Charlie may have helped do a little sheep-shearing when he went on his field trip a couple of years ago. I just found some photos of that trip and he’s in front of the pig enclosure with his classmates. He definitely liked having a big space to roam around in.
    Yes, Baja Fresh!
    We used to go to Qdoba a lot and then Charlie get extremely, extremely upset at one. I’m still trying to figure out why exactly, though I’ve a lot of speculations.

  9. Justthisguy says:

    M’self, I’d rather ride a bicycle than hang out with people. I need to pay off the people who own the storage locker so I can get my bike out of there, not to mention my rifle.

  10. Justthisguy says:

    P.s. I know you live in NJ, so please don’t get nervous. The rifle is not of an “electoral” caliber, just a .22, which I would like to take out and shoot at cans, and such.
    The way things seem to be going lately, I think I might need the piece to get some food for me, sometime soon. Know any good palm-rat recipes? (squirrels are scarce, and decorative, around here.)

  11. Regina says:

    That looks like a nice sunny day – which building is the white one? – it looks *really* familiar, but a couple day stint at the campus wasn’t enough to be REALLY familiar. (BTW- I feel like I still owe you a lunch – the weather and schedule wasn’t cooperating the day that I saw you at Rutgers).
    That sounds like a very good and smooth day, esp. given the undoubted hurly-burly. Great on the restaurant. Excellent.
    I’m sure it’s not the same reason but there are certain jazz pieces that I don’t really register until a quick ramp up to annoyance and then,…”turn that OFF!”. Something discordant. YMMV.
    Take care.

  12. autismvox says:

    @just this guy, I’m a vegetarian!
    Wide open spaces sound good to us here, for sure.

  13. Christine says:

    12 miles on the bike!! So great! I’ll have to get the odometer back on my bike to figure out our distances. Like Charlie and Jim, we are riding now just about every day. It is the best thing in the world. Does Charlie use gears on his bike? I think that will be our next big biking challenge. Or maybe not šŸ™‚

  14. Regina says:

    “Know any good palm-rat recipes?”
    Not off the top of my head, but there were some on the web (of course). “Good” in this case being relative and making peanut-butter on bread look pretty delectable.

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