We were leaving the fair when Johnny’s Daddy turned to me and said “I want to do THAT ride. Can I?.” Daddy quickly lets the children know and then quickly goes to get on THIS ride before we leave. Johnny quickly hugs me and says “bye” and goes to follow Daddy. He wants to do THIS ride? How do I let him know that this is a big people’s ride even though its got fun colourful flashy lights and looks fun? I call Johnny’s Daddy back and let him know what our son’s intentions are. I would say that the expression on Daddy’s face was a combination of wonder, excitement, pride and then fear. “Johnny wants to do THIS ride?” I nod my head as Johnny points up high and smiles and says “yes Daddy.”
So we walk Johnny over and remind him that he’ll have to stand by the measuring stick and see if he is tall enough. The minimum height is 42″ and Johnny is 45″. Plan B kicks in and I have Johnny stand close and see if he doesn’t mind the very loud pulsating beat of the rock music. Nope. I ask him to watch people experience the ride and stand as close as he can to see if this is still what he wants to do. All I can see is a big smile and excitement in his eyes. I look at Johnny’s Daddy and he shrugs and says I guess we should just try it.
I would be lying if I didn’t say that my heart was literally in my throat as I watched my boy head over to join the line. I couldn’t believe that Johnny was going to do this. The sensory input must be off the charts but he just stood their with anticipation waiting his turn with his Daddy. When it was time to get on there was not a spot for Daddy to sit right next to Johnny and Daddy played with the idea of waiting for the next turn of the ride. Johnny was ready to experience the ride and Daddy had that big moment when you wonder do you let him have the independence when its safe to do so even though it nearly kills you to do so or do you risk a meltdown and try to have him wait just one more time?
As I look at the pictures I still can’t believe he did this. Johnny you only just turned five years old! During this trip Johnny was definitely showing us that he wanted to spread his wings of independence and be his own person. I guess most parents are not ready for this when it happens but for a parent of a child with Autism who is used to being on constant “vigil” this moment is even harder to swallow and put a smile of reassurance on your face. We had to do this a few times during the trip and let him show us that he could do it. On this night he REALLY showed us that he could do this.
“Mommy….I want to do this ride now” as he points to another scary ride that Mommy wouldn’t be brave enough to go on. Let’s go over and see Johnny whether you are tall enough is what I say even though I am taking lots of deep breathes. This one he was not tall enough but it was funny how he stood on his tippy toes and tried to put his head to the line. The Octopus ride next to it that really spins you around was the perfect fit though for my little sensory seeker. Mommy is just going to have to used to watching her little guy stretch his wings and challenge himself (and my nerves.)