Yesterday, it was my nephew’s birthday. My brother decided to take him to an inflatable playground here called Jumpin Jax. The place is a kiddy wonderland, full of bounce houses and obstacle courses. Of course, it’s also packed with other kids. It’s a sensory cacophony of piped in music, screaming children and industrial sized air blowers for those of us who aren’t overly sensitive to it. For Roman, the kid who screams when he hears a vacuum cleaner or a hand dryer, it would be a living hell. So, I packed up the older two and left the lil’ guy home with his daddy to watch some football and bond.
As we climbed in to the car, Roman was at the picture window, crying. Tears streamed down his face and he waved a frenzied goodbye. Or, maybe it was more “Don’t leave me! I want to go!” In retrospect, I’m sure it was the latter. Pulling out of the driveway, my heart ached for him.
It isn’t the first time Roman has been left out because of his autism. We try to include him the best we can, but there are some times, like yesterday, when it’s just not a good idea. He would have stood in a corner, crying, with his hands over his ears the entire time we were there. That would have been no fun for anyone. There are other times that we all just stay home to make things easier on Roman. Times like Thanksgiving.
This year, instead of going to a family feast with my mom’s or dad’s families, we stayed home and had the in laws over. Don’t get me wrong, I have awesome in laws. I love them to pieces and was happy to have them over. But, my kids missed out on playing with their cousins. That’s what saddened me the most. At home, we were able to cook a gluten and casein free feast, all of which Roman could eat instead of being relegated to just turkey at someone else’s house. If we had gone anywhere else, we would have to watch Roman’s every move to make sure he didn’t grab a handful of glutenous stuffing off the plate of the nearest kid and stuff it in his mouth.
Now, with the rest of the holidays rapidly approaching, we face that conundrum again, several times over. There will be parties and there will be food, lots of food Roman can’t eat. This is the first year that he will be having a gluten free Christmas and I have no idea how to keep him out of the frosted sugar cookies short of tethering him to me.
My Ginamom says that I need to stop all the worrying and let Roman just “be a kid”. I know what she’s saying and I try my hardest. It pains me to see him left out. But there’s times, like yesterday, that it’s just impossible for the comfort and safety of the guy. And that sucks.