~ Children are a great comfort in your old age, and they help you reach it faster, too. ~ Lionel Kauffman
I ask my kids to do a lot of things. Some of them easy-(bring laundry upstairs, put plates in the dishwasher etc.) Some not so easy-(go to school, deal with all the noise, communicate) They all try very hard to do these things...well...maybe not so much with the laundry..or the dishes..but the other stuff? They really work at them-not because they particularly want to-or even see the necessity of doing them. They do them because I ask them too. From the time that they were born-I have been pushing them forward...I am a parent-that's my job. Autism really doesn't have anything to do with it. Sure, it changes how we do things-makes certain things a priority. But-it doesn't make my job that much harder-it just makes it different.As I have said before-my kids(three of them) have always been autistic-I don't know how to parent any other way. All four of them are happy and healthy. So, I must be doing something right. The thing of it is-I don't ask my kids to do anything that I myself wouldn't do. Although, I can't really say the same about them. Which is why I found myself clinging desperately to a large pole forty feet from the ground.
"What's up Oscar?"
"Look at the bungee jumper" (he was watching something on Youtube..
"That looks scary."
"I want to bungee jump"
"What if the cord broke?..What if you slipped out of the loop on your leg? You would fall...really far!"
"I want to bungee jump!"
"O.K. You can bungee jump when you are eighteen..just promise me that you won't tell me about it until after you do it..O.K???"
"O.K....bungee...I want to bungee jump.."
A few weeks later, Zoe asked....
"I want to fly."
"Well..one day we can all take a trip on an airplane.."
"No! I want to really fly!"
"I can't really help you there..you don't have wings."( This by the way has NOT stopped her from trying. I have caught her jumping off the top of the couch, various chairs and tables..and once, grabbed her from jumping off the railing of the deck...all causing me to age quite rapidly)
"I could jump out of a plane!"
"Not while I'm alive."
"But I want to!"
"O.K...when you are eighteen you can sky dive-only promise me that you won't tell me until after you do it O.K."
I thought that I was safe. That I had a few years to not think about it...that maybe, with maturity, they would SEE that doing those particular things could be hazardous to their life. *sigh* I know..I know..I shouldn't discourage them from trying new things...especially by listing all the ways that those "things" could kill them. I guess something just happens to you when you become a parent. Your mortality...you kids mortality..mortality in general! It becomes of the utmost importance. I know that I didn't think that way before kids. Some of the things that I did (and survived) as a teenager-*shiver* the memories alone can sometimes keep me from a restful sleep. But that is a post that is NEVER going to be written! So, there I was..thinking all was right in our world, when Oscar said...
"What's up Oscar?"
"I want to zip line!"
Now the problem here was that Omar had gone zip lining as part of a corporate event....AND he told us all about it. So, I really had no way to..well...say "No." Besides, when Omar did it-it was between two mountains and over a forest. There is nothing like that here. What we do have is a rope climbing/platform zip lining place. That didn't sound too bad. So, I figured that if Oscar wanted to do this-we would all just go for it. (I am a huge believer in family adventures/trips) One thing that you need to understand about us is that with the exception of Zoe (who will jump off of anything) we are all terribly afraid of heights. But, as Omar did this (over a much higher course) and lived to talk about it..I thought "Piece of cake! What could go wrong?" Remember that large pole that I mentioned in the first paragraph? We became quite intimate.
There I was standing forty feet up(clinging to the pole-really, if I could have melted into it I would have)..trying to look anywhere but down. The only thing holding me was a rope attached to the zip line. The attendant looked at me and said "Just step off of the platform." My brain was saying "are you out of your freaking mind?" Omar was yelling words of encouragement..or at least I think he was..I was in panic mode. At the same time, I didn't want my kids to know that I was freaking out(especially Sam who was going on the zip line next to me..so I was answering Omar in a really loud and extra jovial voice.."SURE! O.K.! YUP!!...honestly, he could have been saying "The car is on fire!" or "Your pants have fallen down!" ...it wouldn't have made a difference. My ears just heard "blah blah blah-because the pounding of my heart was so loud. I knew that I HAD to do this. I had to show my kids...to lead the way...to be fearless. So..I did what my brain pleaded with me not to do. I let go of the pole and stepped off the platform into....nothing....and it was AMAZING! Liberating! Joyful! I loved it. I couldn't wait to do it again... couldn't wait for the others to go. That is when we ran into problems.
As a parent, there are those special times when we are powerless to help our kids..I don't have them often, but when I do...Well,I refer to them as "Oh S**t" moments.That day, I had one of "those" moments-as I was standing on the ground forty feet below, Oscar and Lily were having simultaneous panic attacks forty feet above.
Thankfully-the staff there are very well trained..and they were able to get them off of the platform to the relative safety of the waiting area. In fact-they did this many times that afternoon as both Lily and Oscar kept trying to overcome their fear...they never did. Zoe in the meantime ran the course about twenty times while all this was going on. I'm hoping that this will keep her off of the furniture from now on...or at least discourage her from thinking about sky diving (while I am still alive) .
|The pole to the far left became my very good friend
On the way home, I told all of my kids how very proud I was of them. Lily said "But I didn't do anything!!" Oscar said "It was too high!" (I didn't mention bungee jumping) I told them that I was proud of them for trying. That I could never ask them for more than that. (with the exception of laundry and cleaning up after themselves-"trying" doesn't work there) I also told them that not going on the zip line was no big deal...that their lives weren't any better or worse for not doing it. That the important thing was the "trying" of it. "How can you know whether or not you like something if you don't at least try?"( That last part was aimed at getting them to taste new foods-again, a post for another day)
Since then, there haven't been any more requests to do anything life threatening. Although Sam HAS mentioned getting his license in three years. (EEK!) Both Lily and Oscar have asked to try zip lining again. I have no problem with that. Whether they wind up staying in the holding area-or actually do the course. They are setting a goal and it is my job to help them achieve it...just as it is my job to help them if they don't. Besides, I wouldn't mind having a go at it again...there is a pole there that I have gotten to know quite well...