Harry and I went to opening day at a farm this past weekend. Beautiful weather, farm animals, food trucks, and music…what more do we need?
My teenager likes to sleep in on the weekends (I love when he does something “typical” LOL), and I was excited when he got up before noon and I had actually found an activity for the day. I knew there would be ice cream, so it would be worth it no matter what!
Everything is a process
I pulled our vehicle out of the garage so that I could open the ramp and roll him in, I put on some tunes, and off we went. It was a bit of a drive, but we got there and, after driving up and down the dirt road I finally turned around, headed for the exit, and found the handicapped parking right by the entrance, where it should be, of course.
Who else talks to people waiting in line?
First stop was the hot dog line. We settled in behind a woman and her 9 year old German Shepherd- gorgeous, and friendly, and gentle. “Would your son like to say hello?” she asked. “Definitely,” I said, “we would love to!” She showed Harry how to hold out his hand for the dog to sniff him, and then he could give the pup some love. Big smiles- it was going to be a good day.
The line moved slowly. A woman in a wheelchair saw Harry and said she wanted to “roll over to say hello.” We were both grateful for the fairly flat ground on this part of the property. We admired her electric wheelchair, and we talked about how maybe one day Harry will be able to control one just like hers. I explained that he is still working on his fine motor skills. She totally understood. And he had his eye on her…what is this cool ride she has???
My whole life as a Special Needs Mom is one long MacGyver episode.
We finally heard our name called and our food was ready. This all beef hot dog was huge, with a generous portion of perfectly carmelized onions pouring over the edges of the bun. The serving of French Fries was enormous- I cannot imagine if I had ordered toppings on our fries! Each was rolled up in foil and the two together were rolled up into one flimsy paper plate. Plus my drink, fresh squeezed lemonade.
How was I going to carry all of this plus push a wheelchair? The same way I always do, I guess.
Honestly, I know I put the lemonade in the satchel bag that hangs off the back of the wheelchair, but I just can’t remember how I got both of us and the food over to the short stone wall where we sat to enjoy lunch. This was one of those moments I wished I had three hands, or at least a foldaway tray attached to the wheelchair- hey, I might have to look into that! And it would have 2 cup holders too, of course.
Connecting with our people
Lunch was delish! Harry sucked on a salty fry and he was very happy. Afterwards we took a stroll around the grounds to say hello to the cows, goats, chickens, and rabbits. There were two young ladies cooing over the bunnies, and one of them asked if Harry was my son. I said yes, and she replied “he reminds me of my sister.” She has no idea of the joy that brought to my heart, just the way she said it, with such genuine acceptance. She and her friend greeted Harrison, and we learned a little bit about each other’s lives.
Next stop was the ice cream truck. Uh oh, you have to go up a few steps to get to the counter. Luckily the line was short, and I could park Harry right next to the platform.
Remember the woman in the wheelchair? Well, her son happened to be there just as the wind started blowing. He could see that Harry was a little annoyed with the breeze right in his face, so this lovely young man gently put his hand on the wheelchair and made sure Harrison knew he was there, keeping him company while Mom got a fresh, heavenly, strawberry ice cream cone. I thanked the gentleman with so much gratitude, what a thoughtful guy, and Harry and I went off to enjoy our dessert.
There was one other spot I wanted to check out, a cute home-goods type of gift shop that is in a trailer on the property. Unfortunately I could not get the wheelchair up the steps and into the shop. A sweet woman noticed me eyeing the store and she offered to watch Harry while I went in to browse. “Don’t worry,” she said, “I’m a nurse. I’m not going to steal him” HA! No kidding- he comes with way too much gear!
After a little hemming and hawing, I gave in and let her guard my precious cargo for a minute or two. When I exited, I thanked her profusely, and of course we got to talking. She is a retired school nurse, and we shared a handful of stories about kids with special needs and medical needs in the classroom…I met her son and daughter-in-law (a special education liaison) and her grandchildren, and I gave her a big hug when we parted.
It was a really good day
What’s the point of all this? Only that it was a really good day. Did Harrison sleep through some of the action? Of course he did. But not through all of it. I have learned how to adjust my expectations, of everything.
I plan activities that I know I will enjoy, just in case Harrison decides to tune out. As a mom of a child who is medically complex and has severe special needs, I have learned to accept help when it is offered. And I have learned to make our presence known rather than hide from the masses. You never know who you will meet, who will feel drawn to you, and how many people there are out there who might understand you. And you might make some new friends.