Any Given Sunday

Two years ago, when Charlie made his First Communion I was overjoyed and so proud. But a little voice in the back of my head said, “Will this ever be Finn? Will Finn ever be able to stand up there in a scratchy suit with other kids standing that close to him? Will he ever be able to go to CCD?”

Two years ago, Finn was in a self contained classroom. He was still overturning desks and tearing up school work. There was no way I was ever going to get him to go to CCD. So, on the day of Charlie’s Communion, I beamed with pride for Charlie and I cried a silent tear for Finn. Because I never imagined what the future held.

In the beginning, Finn couldn’t sit still for mass. He would push the chairs and fidget in his seat. One week, he sat on the floor in the aisle. I tried my best to look the other way because he wasn’t bothering anyone and he was, afterall, being quiet, but an elderly parishoner made a comment about “Jesus showing him the way” and I packed them up and left.

Taking the kids to church has been a labor of love for me. I didn’t always want to do it, but I did it anyway. There were many times when I’d look around the room for a friendly face to acknowledge how hard I was trying. A sympathetic smile from an older mom who had once been in the trenches like me. Some weeks that face smiled back. Other weeks it didn’t.

But we kept going anyway.

We’ve used token boards and the promise of donuts after church to get us through. And the first week that Finn attended the children’s liturgy with Charlie, I almost fell out of my seat!

So we kept going.

And soon, church didn’t feel like such an unfamiliar place. The priest knows us and so does the Religious Ed director. It has become part of Finn’s routine and he likes it. (He’ll never admit it, but I know he does! If not, at the very least, for the donuts! Oreo crumble from Shop Rite, please?)

Each week, he followed me up to Communion and said to the priest “I want to taste the potato chip.” The priest always gave him a blessing and me a knowing smile. And finally, baby steps along the way have led us to this:

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My boy made his First Communion! And he didn’t just do it, he rocked it! He even took up the gifts! He didn’t just wear the suit, he didn’t want to take it off! Two years ago, I couldn’t have imagined him wearing a scratchy suit and dress shoes!

I wish I could’ve told the me who mourned the idea of Finn making his sacraments of this day. I wish I could’ve known that nothing was going to keep his light from shining. I wish that someone could have told me that everything was going to be just fine. But I never would have believed it. And it wouldn’t have kept me in the fight. Chipping away. Every day. Helping my boy find his way. I’m grateful for our struggles because they make days like these so much sweeter.

On a cold day in January, Finn made his Reconciliation (we used to call it Penance back in the day.) I was unbelievably proud of him that day, but I didn’t write about it because, well, I’m a slacker. But I wanted to tell you about a song they sang because it was so moving and poignant to how I feel about Finn. It went something like this:

Way beyond the stars;
Far beyond what I can see.
Your love has no end,
and it reaches out to me.

Lord, nothing in this World,
in all the Universe;
Nothing, could keep me from your love, Lord Jesus.
No matter what I’ve done,
Whatever I go through;
Nothing could keep me from your love,
Nothing coould keep me from you.

I had to choke back my weepy mom sobs as he stood in front of the church and sang that song. I was so proud of him. I would move mountains for him– only it seems he doesn’t need me to. He can move them all by himself.

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Crazy faces before Communion!

Surrounded by (almost) everyone who has loved and supported us through it all.

Surrounded by (almost) everyone who has loved and supported us through it all.

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A soft place to land or a hard place to live?

Home is really hard for Finn.

Those are six of the most heartbreaking and truthful words I have had to write.

Finn’s not like other kids. That goes without saying. And it’s not like he doesn’t like home or even find comfort from home, but home, for Finn, is like sitting in front of a high speed fan on a hot day. At first, it feels good and it’s comforting, but eventually it gets really annoying.

The part that’s really hard for me, besides all the chaos that Finn having a hard time at home brings, is the fact that Finn doesn’t have ANY trouble at school. He’s a completely different kid. He’s jovial and affable. He’s compliant and ingratiating. His teacher claims to almost never have to redirect him beyond what is age-appropriate for a 2nd grader. It blows my mind. Because, at home, I have to ask him no less than ten times to stop wrestling his brother and get dressed. And I can’t even tell you how many times (an hour) he gets in trouble for growling at the twins or just plain making them cry for no reason. He won’t share. He’s totally rigid and unrelenting.

Now, I know the me-of-3-years-ago would have given my left arm to have Finn where he is at school. He is a serious rock star. He has friends. He’s on grade level (or above) academically. It is picture perfect. For real. I’m not bragging. I’m, as Momastery would say, wearing my perspectacles. Only someone who has walked in my shoes can have the clarity, perspective and gratitude for these gifts as I see them. And I know they are gifts.

It’s just that I thought that as Finn got better at school, he would also get better at home, but that just isn’t the case. He’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Some mornings he just wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. At 5:30. And screams.

And some days, despite having created a schedule for him and “steam rolling” him with the exercise ball, he still throws himself on the ground when we tell him his (scheduled) Wii time is over.

And I get that transitions (even scheduled ones) are hard, but he would NEVER do that at school. In fact, if a friend from the neighborhood walked in our house while he were throwing a fit on the floor, he would stop– immediately. I’ve seen it happen.

So where does that leave me? Being played? Almost positively, absolutely. But it doesn’t change the fact that my boy hates being home and he’s making it miserable for the rest of us.

I’ve tried everything– positive behavior supports (or as we seasoned parents call them “token reward systems”), schedules, social stories, at-home ABA therapy, pragmatic speech therapy, OT exercises, “if / then” statements, clearly stated rules and expectations, ignoring the negative behaviors, punishment… you name it, I’ve tried it.

I am at a loss for where to go from here.

First week success!

The boys have been back to school for exactly a week and I have to say it has been going surprisingly well.

Finn’s first day went off without a hitch (which I posted about incessantly on Facebook. What can I say? I was proud!) He even went to the cafeteria with all the other kids! He has been riding the bus with Charlie (with the help of an aide). He is encouraging other students in his self-contained room to cooperate with the teacher. He is asking to spend more time in his inclusion class. It is all really amazing stuff.

And then, last night, he joined the Boy Scouts!

Last year, when Charlie started Boy Scouts at a new troop, Finn said he wanted to join. So, I took him to the first meeting and he ran out of their like I was trying to get him to walk across hot coals. I didn’t force him. I just let it go. Then this year, he said he wanted to join again. I was pretty sure it was going to go the same as last year, but I thought I’d give it a try.

We walked into a large Church hall filled with 70 rambunctious boys and their parents and Finn said, “Is this where Boy Scouts is always going to be?” I said, “Yes, buddy, is this ok?” He said, “Yea, I like it here.” When the meeting started, he sat with what would be his “den” and listened and laughed along with the other kids. He even did the little Boy Scout peace sign thingie that they do when the leaders want the Scouts to be quiet! It was utterly adorable. I sat there in amazement and watched my boy shine.

He told our behavior aide (who I brought with me for backup) that he knew the boy sitting in front of us. She whispered it to me, so I said to Finn, “Is that John from your school?” He said, “I think so. Ask him to take his uniform off and I’ll let you know for sure.” He couldn’t recognize the boy out of context! It was so sweet in its earnestness.

They had a presentation from a local sea life observatory and they let the kids touch the animals afterwards. Finn, apparently knowing his limits, said, “Let’s get out of here. This is a disaster waiting to happen!” I stalled a while because Charlie wanted to kiss the horseshoe crab.

Afterwards, Finn asked when his next meeting was. I told him it was in a few weeks and he asked if he could just stay there until the next meeting.

I am so proud of that boy. I could could cry right now just thinking about it. But Finn’s success has been a long time coming. It was this time last year that Finn was still overturning desks in school. Finn’s desire to join Boy Scouts and spend more time in his inclusion classroom is really a testament to Finn feeling safe and supported to try new things. When he feels safe and supported, he is happy and calm. And a happy and calm Finny makes everybody (at least our whole family) happy and calm, too.

Whenever Finn comes home with a good report, I always worry in the back of my head that the school will start trying to take things away from him. Instead of seeing that the supports are working, I fear that the school will see them as superfluous. I’m not sure if that makes me a pessimist, a realist or just a special needs mom. But it will have to be a worry for another day. Because my boy is growing and succeeding and I have to keep that in focus. No matter what.

In one, short week, Finn can add Boy Scout and cafeteria eater to his list of accomplishments! I think that’s pretty amazing!

Back to school jitters

School starts tomorrow and I’ve been a nervous wreck all day.

It doesn’t help that Finn just cried himself to sleep saying, “I hate school!” Of course, Charlie swooped in and tried to tell him all the great things about school. Most of which, Finn couldn’t care less.

School is an entirely different place for Finn than it is for Charlie. Social situations come much easier to Charlie. In fact, we made an impromptu visit to Charlie’s school this afternoon (to settle my nerves, not Charlie’s) and I asked him if he knew the principal and he said, “Yea, she’s really nice”– Charlie thinks everyone is his friend. And he’s usually right.

Finn thinks the exact opposite.

School is a big, confusing place to Finn. People are loud and unpredictable.

We went in to meet Finn’s teachers today. He will be spending about 80% of his day in the general education classroom with his aide. His teachers and his aide are awesome! They fawned over him. He, of course, ran off and tried to pick up his brother. Every time they tried to talk to him, he made rude remarks (Finn’s defense mechanism).

Last year, I spent a lot of time making sure Finn would feel as included as possible. He wanted to be in Mrs. M’s room more last year, so I wanted to make sure he felt like he was included right from the start. I put a lot of time into making sure this happened, so I’m hoping it goes well.

He did so amazing in Mrs. M’s room last year. He was well-behaved. He earned student of the month TWICE! He even had some boys that he liked. But starting a new school year feels like starting all over again at ground zero. There’s always the chance for Finn to get back into old habits. When he’s in this negative place, it’s easy for his anxiety to bring on problem behavior.

And then there’s the added stress of THE BUS!

At the end of last year, Finn proclaimed that he wanted to ride the bus with Charlie. For two years, Finn has ridden the special needs bus. There were a few aides on the bus and only a few other passengers. And it came right to the front door (which was awesome!) The only problem was that Charlie wasn’t on that bus. Charlie rode the regular ed bus. You know, the loud, obnoxious, raucous regular ed bus. The bus that even Charlie (“friend to all”) had trouble with bullies on. And now Finn wanted to ride it.

I labored over it and labored over it. I talked to him about it a million different ways. But he insisted he wanted to be with his brother. Charlie is moving to a different school this year, so the bus ride would be the only chance for them to see each other. Finn was very anxious about not having Charlie in his building anymore. This seemed an adequate remedy. (Except that he had to ride the regular ed bus.)

I had separate conversations with Charlie about it. He knew Finn riding the bus would mean that he could no longer sit with his best friend. He wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but he was willing to make the sacrifice for Finn. His number one concern was Finn’s behavior. He wanted to make SURE there was going to be an aide on the bus. He couldn’t “handle Finn by himself.” I assured him there would be.

Now here we are. The night before the first day of school and I am second guessing every decision I fought tooth and nail for. Charlie is upset that he can’t sit with his best friend. Finn doesn’t want to go to school at all. And my stomach hurts.

I was lying with Finn at bedtime trying to quell his fears. I think he could tell I was all smoke and mirrors. I tried walking him through his day, but he had a complaint about everything I brought up. I asked him where he wanted to eat lunch. (I had arranged that he would eat lunch in the self contained classroom, since the cafeteria is a major cause of stress for him). He asked, “where are all the other kids eating?” I said, “In the cafeteria.” He said, “Oh.” I told him he could go to the cafeteria if he wanted. He said, “No.” I said, “You can eat in Ms. B’s room.” He said, “No. I just won’t eat lunch.” My heart sank. I said, “Well, you think about it.” He said, “No, you think about it.”

I think his brain is on shut down. He is so worked up about everything that he can’t make a decision about anything. That’s kind of how I feel, too.

I’m hoping tomorrow goes better than I anticipate. Because it seems the only one who is excited is Charlie!

Maybe it will all feel better in the morning.

Let’s hope so!

The Yard Sale Blues: nostalgia in a pile of junk

I found myself a little melancholy after the yard sale yesterday.

I’ve been boxing things up for months. As Henry and Tallulah grow out of things, I’ve been consigning, donating and saving things for the yard sale. Some things were easy to part with. Others I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of. It’s understandable to feel attached to a special outfit or a favorite toy, but some emotional attachments were completely unexpected.

While tagging and organizing, I stumbled across my breastpump. I wasn’t looking to sell it, it’s not sanitary to share lactation equipment, but I couldn’t even bring myself to throw it away. I unzipped the not-so-sleek-or-stylish black bag and found a tiny pair of blue socks, a CHOP burp cloth, breastpads, hand sanitizer and a picture of the babies (a lactation trick to speed your letdown and increase milk production). I was practically in tears. Breastfeeding was a huge part of my life. I trained (only partially) to become a lactation consultant, so it was obviously something that meant a lot to me. But the pumping part, well, it wasn’t the highlight of my tenure. I remember posting on Facebook at 2am that I thought the breastpump was talking to me. Now that is delirium! (Although, I am not the first person to have heard the pump talk!)

Now that I’m done pumping (and breastfeeding), seeing the pump and all its accoutrements gave my heart a pang. It brought back memories of the being in the NICU, clinging to the idea of feeling “productive” when all I could do was sit by Henry and Tallulah’s bedside. Stealing myself away from holding their little hands to go back to my room and pump every two hours. Desperately wanting the time to go by faster because I couldn’t stand even a second away from them. And then when Henry was separated from us and transported to CHOP, pumping was my lifeline to him. I needed that pump more than ever. In lieu of holding my baby, I sent him breastmilk.

So, my relationship with the pump is long and storied and while I don’t plan on having any more children, clearly parting with the pump was something I’m not capable of doing just yet. I think I may have to get it bronzed.

After smelling all the baby scent out of the burp cloth and baby socks, I walked out into the garage.

I happened upon a sand bucket of toys. A pretty common occurrence since we live at the shore, only this was Finn’s bucket of toys. As I was picking through it, I realized these things weren’t here by happenstance; they were all very deliberate. These were Finn’s favorite things (that week).

Finn's bucket

It was like a time capsule from his 5th birthday. His “yellow pee pees” were there. His “I’m 5 today” button was there. A Link-a-doo was there (something he was obsessed with last summer! He “linked” everything to everything! My house was one, big interconnected web!) It was all pretty heavy stuff. Certainly not a bucket of junk.

I stood there looking over Finn’s special bucket and felt sad and proud at the same time. I was sad because my little man is growing up, but so proud because he has come so far! My house is no longer a web of Link-a-doos and I forgot to even notice! I was too busy worrying about shuffling Finn off to my Mom’s so he didn’t get upset by the yard sale, I forgot to be thankful that he doesn’t cry over a lost “yellow pee pee” anymore (oh, come on, just click on the story, you know you want to!)

I also empathized just a little bit more with Finn’s attachment to inanimate objects. Here I am, a grown adult, feeling nostalgic over a breastpump, something that was once merely a necessary evil (and sometimes a late night conversation companion) and has now become a symbol of so much more. How can I blame him for loving things too hard? I have to remember that everything in his life doesn’t have to be a teachable moment. I don’t have to force him over these hurdles for the sake of overcoming them. (So what if he brings Legos to college?) Sometimes a bucket of toys (and a breastpump) are more than what they seem.

They are a snapshot of life.

They are tangible memories.

They are irreplaceable.

I may have to keep them forever.

 

The toilet seat fiasco

We are getting ready to have a yard sale this weekend. We live down the shore and lots of shoobies, I mean out-of-town-visitors, come down on Memorial Day weekend, so we thought it would be a good time to unload some of our stuff. I’ve also been holding onto a lot of my parents’ stuff for them, so they can sell too.

But here’s the thing.

Yard sales suck for Finn.

I can’t even tell him we are having a yard sale. I know it probably sounds ridiculous, but he cannot handle the thought of something he once loved or kinda liked or touched or even looked at being given away. Even if we sell it for money to buy more Legos or Wii games or IPad apps or whatever. He just can’t handle it. (He used to not be able to handle throwing anything away, like a used Band-aid, so I definitely think we are making progress!)

I’ve been secretly boxing things and tagging them while the boys are at school. I don’t dare try and sell any of his stuff, but as you are about to find out, that doesn’t really matter. I still have to have him sleep at my Mom’s the night before the yard sale and then stay there the entire day. By the time he returns, it has to look like nothing ever happened.

And here’s why…

My mom had this decorative toilet seat that she forgot she had, but really liked. It was clear with dolphins on it and she wanted to put it on one of their new toilets at the new house. But my dad refused. He already bought all new toilet seats and didn’t want to switch them out. So, my mom offered the toilet seat to us. The boys loved it and wanted it for their bathroom, so I agreed and we took it home.

That night, I started to take it out of the box while the kids were in the tub and Finn said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Switching out the toilet seat, remember? You wanted this dolphin toilet seat from Mom Mom.” He said, “Can we keep the old toilet seat in the attic?” (Which, by the way, the existing toilet seat is a hideous yellow. I never changed it out when we moved in because the toilet itself is a hideous yellow. Replacing the matching yellow seat with a white seat would make the toilet look like a Creamsicle. I keep wishing HGTV is going to show up and do a surprise renovation to my 1970s bathrooms and kitchen. Until then, I’m still rockin’ the retro!) So anyway, Finn is apparently attached to this yellow toilet seat and was starting to get visibly nervous about the thought of its departure. He said he thought that the new toilet seat would make his butt cold and we just had to keep the old seat. I said, “Finn, we are not keeping an old, disgusting toilet seat! You wanted this dolphin seat.”

Well, he breaks into hysterics.

Here it is! The toilet that will forever be in my house. I can't believe I'm even showing it to you. I should be writing away to some "Pimp my Bathroom" kind of show so that they will take pity on me, but alas I am sharing my commode with you! Apparently, Finn loves it.

Here it is! The toilet that will forever be in my house. I can’t believe I’m even showing it to you. I should be writing away to some “Pimp my Bathroom” kind of show so that they will take pity on me, but alas I am sharing my commode with you! Apparently, Finn loves it.

I was trying to put the twins down for bed while all this was going on, so I left the bathroom because I could feel my patience waning. Joe tried to talk Finn off the ledge to no avail and then comes into the twins’ room and says, “Shan, can’t we just leave the toilet seat?” It seems really ridiculous looking back on it, but it’s not like I was forcing the dolphin seat on him. He said he wanted it!

He was in a full wail when I went in and repacked up the dolphin seat. I told him we didn’t have to change the toilet seat. He began to calm down and he sniffled, “Thanks, Mommy.”

I don’t know how I could ever begin to think that we would ever move from my tribute to disco that we call a house. Finn can’t even have a new toilet seat! And THAT, my friends, is why Finn will not be coming to our yard sale!

On a positive note, Charlie and his cousins will be selling lemonade at the yard sale. They will be splitting the profits and donating a portion to FACES 4 Autism. You gotta love an entrepreneur with a giving heart! That’s my Charlie!

I love this picture of my boys!

I love this picture of my boys!

Field Trip Jitters- part 2

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Accordingly, a ‘genius’ is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.” ~Thomas Edison

If Thomas Edison were judging our performance on the field trip today, I think he would agree– we did our homework! All my preparation (and perspiration!) paid off! Or it could have just been an unbelievable coincidence, but Finn’s field trip to Storybook Land went off without a hitch!

Just before leaving for the bus this morning, Finn said, “I don’t want to take my headphones, Mommy.” I said, “Are you sure, Finny, the bus is going to get kind of loud.” He said, “I rode the bus with these kids before, I’ll be ok.” I was hesitant to let him leave without them, but I wanted to show him I believed in him, so I let him leave without them (and I packed them in my own bag… just in case.)

On my way there, I made a quick stop at WaWa for a little insurance. I needed to have the deck stacked in my favor and I wasn’t afraid to use the power of Skittles.

While waiting for the buses to arrive, I decided to forgo any expectations I had for the day. I needed to take the pressure off. If he made it in the front gate, great! If he only rode one ride, great! I wanted to focus on the positive. And clearly, the positive was that MY BOY WAS ON THE FIELD TRIP! Last year, I would’ve given anything for Finn to be on the field trip or spending as much time with the other kids as he does. His progress this year has been phenomenal and I didn’t want a measly field trip making me lose sight of that!

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Despite having told Finn I was going to meet them there, he still seemed surprised to see me. He had a little trouble adjusting to the fact that I was there and refused to let me show my excitement to see him. He kept waving his finger at me and saying, “No, no, no!” Thankfully, after their immediate snack break upon entering the park, he had gotten used to the idea of my presence.

Finn was in a group with two of his favorite friends from Mrs. M’s class. Both boys have been playing with him in “Reverse Inclusion” all year (basically, they brought regular education kids to come play with Finn, so he could still learn social skills and behavior modeling). One of the boy’s Mom was the chaperone and she was fantastic. She set out the rules right from the start, “We stick together like glue and we each take a turn picking the rides.” Excellent! Clear-cut rules and we weren’t getting ditched for anything! I liked this! 

Riding the "teacups" or whatever you call them. I'm sure it was no coincidence they were in the yellow one!

Riding the “teacups” or whatever you call them. I’m sure it was no coincidence they were in the yellow one! Look at his smile! Priceless!

Finn normally doesn’t like rides. We have had many trips to Disney in which Finn had very specific criterion: “Is it dark? Does it go fast? Does it go up and down?” If all three were “no,” then he would go on. So, we were always relegated to the baby rides. Even now, he is always willing to ride with Henry and Tallulah because bigger and faster is never Finn’s thing!

Well, NOT TODAY!

He rode almost every ride the other boys chose! Except for the “Tilt a Whirl” and the “Double Shot” (both modified for the younger set, but still too “thrilling” for Finn.”) That was ok with me. We got to sit and chat and take a few “selfies.”

Waiting by the Tilt a Whirl.

Waiting by the Tilt a Whirl.

Waiting by the Double Shot

Waiting by the Double Shot

Our little “round robbin” of picking the rides was working out quite nicely. The other boys weren’t picky, so we stuck together like glue! We all rode the train together. I asked Finn if I could sit with him, but he said “no,” he wanted to sit with his friend. I couldn’t have been happier!

Riding the train with a friend!

Riding the train with a friend!

One of the rides we saw when we previewed the park online was the Antique Cars. I was happy to see them because they are one of Finn’s favorite rides at Knoebel’s. I was also a little nervous because it’s actually one of the ONLY rides Finn goes on at Knoebel’s, but in sticking to my “attitude of gratitude,” I was going to see how it went.

We lined up to ride the antique cars and waited our turn. It’s always a pretty long wait for this type of ride because loading the passengers takes forever and then only a few cars go out at a time. The kids amused themselves in line nicely until we realized that the line was no longer moving.

The cars broke down!

Finn got a very sour look on his face and I prepared for the meltdown. He stomped his foot as everyone else turned to leave. I was fully preparing for the artful distraction and redirection, but somehow he didn’t freak out! He sniffled, dug his heels in to stay and asked, “Are we never gonna get to go on them?” I told him we would check back after lunch and he said, “Ok!”

Um, can you say miracle? 

Finn rode so many new rides! That in and of itself was a miracle! The favorite, though, was probably sliding down the rabbit hole and coming out into the Queen of Hearts’ maze! They could’ve done that all day!

It was an amazing day! I have to say, I take back what I said about it being “the world’s creepiest amusement park.” Last time we were there, it was nighttime and it was freezing (during their “Christmas Fantasy with lights” event). The park is much more endearing by the light of day and with one of my favorite boys!

Just before bed, I lay with Finn and asked him, “What was your favorite part of the day?” (Fully expecting him to say the Balloon Ride because he rode it four times). He said, “Getting to be with you.”

I love that kid.

Field Trip Jitters

Finn is going on the Kindergarten field trip tomorrow and I’m a nervous wreck! It’s really not that big of a deal in “normal kid” land. They get on a bus. They drive to Storybook Land (the world’s creepiest amusement park, in my opinion). They ride rides. They drive home.

Except in Finn-land, things are never that cut and dry. We had to prep him vigorously for this event. I explained every minute detail to the best of my ability. I have had several back and forth emails with his inclusion teacher regarding his participation. I explained to her how important it is to me that Finn ride the bus with all the other kids and get to be in a chaperoned group with all the other kids. I didn’t want him feeling like he could just walk around the park with me the whole day. To other kids, this is just another day at school. For Finn, this is a whole learning experience. Thankfully, Mrs. M gets it (and gets me!) She was kind enough to tell me ahead of time who would be in his group. I’m so thrilled he has a group!

I had to prepare him to ride a bus that is not “his” bus. He asked, “Is it Mrs. M’s bus?” I said, “No, it’s just a school bus.” He said, “What’s a school bus?” (I guess, in his head, it’s either “my bus” or it’s not.) I have to be sure and pack his noise cancelling headphones in case the bus is too loud or overwhelming. I asked Mrs. M to see if he can sit in the front of the bus, away from a potentially crowded, noisy and altogether overstimulating situation.

I explained that once he gets there he will be with the three other boys (all boys he knows and loves, thanks to Mrs. M) and I will meet them there and walk around with his group.

We then Googled Storybook Land images, so he could see exactly what to expect. He loves to scroll through pictures on the IPad, so we did this for a while before bed. He was especially happy when he saw they had a Lighthouse there because he is very interested in lighthouses right now. He and Joe have been on a “Lighthouses of New Jersey tour” for the past two summers. The Lighthouse and the train got him pretty excited.

This was the last time we'd been to Storybook Land. That's Finn in the stroller.

This was the last time we’d been to Storybook Land. That’s Finn in the stroller.

Baby Finn as the White Rabbit.

Baby Finn as the White Rabbit.

He seemed pretty prepared for the day and I was feeling good.

As I lay with him before bed, I said, “Finn, if you start to feel nervous or upset tomorrow, just ask me for a break and we can walk away.” He said, “Or can I ask you for a squeeze?” (he likes deep pressure massage and big bear hugs.) I said, “Of course.” Then he said, “But I’m really nervous about all the people.” I said, “What people?” He said, “All the people at Storybook Land.” I tried my best to assure him that we would only be walking with our group of kids and he wouldn’t have to be with “all the people,” but I’m not sure I convinced him.

I’m not sure I convinced myself.

How do you reassure a kid who doesn’t like to be around crowds that there wouldn’t be any crowds at an amusement park? Obviously, I can’t. I have to just hope that he can verbalize when he is feeling scared or overwhelmed.

My biggest fear (for tomorrow, not in my life) is that he won’t be able to even walk in the park, which has happened to us twice at Sesame Place. Or that he will have a meltdown for some unforeseen thing and his group will go on without us. I’m afraid, as I have been ever since Finn started special ed, that they will see him as “different” and not want to play with him anymore.

I’m hoping that Kindergarteners aren’t that cruel.

I just have to hope for the best. I can’t worry about the what ifs. (That’s what I blog for!) Things are going well for him right now, so I have to stay positive (right?) Keep your fingers crossed for me! We’ll see how it goes!