April 22, 2014 by Marj Hatzell
Not to be Braggy McBraggerston, but lately things have been going so well in my life that I feel almost guilty. (That sound you just heard was the proverbial “other shoe” dropping. Shoulda kept my mouth shut)
Why do I feel guilty? Probably because I feel that in this whole special needs parenting life there needs to be solidarity. You know, like strength in numbers. It takes a Village and all that cliche stuff about sticking together and raising our children together. Blah, blah, blah.
Except things are going super duper well. I’m not making it up, I swear! It’s like true and stuff! The Bugaboo, he’s making tons of progress and he’s HAPPY. The Bug Boy is sailing through middle school and he’s only half the curmudgeon he’s been in years past. We’re all doing “normal” things like every other “normal” family out there. This is after years of not being able to go certain places or eat out or do much to our house because there were other, shall we say, priorities? Like sleep. And my Sanity. One of the two.
A few months ago, The Guy I Live With asked me if we could take a real family vacation this year. Now, we start to plan a “real” family vacation almost every year. Except we start to remember certain disastrous vacations, not that I’m being specific here (AHEM TRIP ACROSS THE COUNTRY), and get gun shy. When we start thinking of the logistics of a family vacation we wimp out and do a stay-cation with a few day trips instead. I mean, can you blame us? Disrupting the Bugaboo’s schedule is not for the faint of heart. If we’re going to disrupt it we have to make sure it’s pretty darn spectacular and chock full of things to keep him busy, busy, busy.
This time I cringed when TGILW said, “…real vacation.” Why? REAL vacations take planning. Tons and tons of planning. Not just ANY planning. Planning a vacation that is autism-friendly, Bugaboo friendly, and a place where we can all have a nice time as a family is challenging. Which is why we usually chicken out and stay home to sleep in our own comfy beds. Ahem.
Something made me think we could do it this time. Previously, we hadn’t really thought things through. We didn’t take his health status into account. He wasn’t really ready for BIG, FAT, CROSS-COUNTRY changes last time. We didn’t pack enough of his food. (THIS IS CRITICAL. Turns out there is NOT a Trader Joe’s in every part of the country! I KNOW, RIGHT?) We didn’t always find a place with a pool to camp out each night. After a few years of day trips and quick overnights we felt as though we were ready to do a big trip. We came up with a list of criteria to help us decide what to do on a REAL vacation.
Within a few hours of home. For a quick getaway back home, just in case.
Someplace south of us, preferably, since we were kinda sick of the pretty white stuff.
A hotel with a pool, in case Mommy and Bugaboo had to hang out there while the other half of the family went off to explore the sites.
Absolutely no airplanes. Please, for the love of all that’s good and holy.
Oh, and we aren’t really beach fans (Well, the boys are. The parents think the beach is TEH DEBIL.)
Absolutely not Disney World (long story). Just. No.
Easy, right? Suuuuuure. After going back and forth several times we ultimately decided on Colonial Williamsburg. We could hit Virginia Beach on the way down (the weather was supposed to be great that day!) and see the sites and hit Busch Gardens, too.
So that’s what we did. With one day being a total washout (2! INCHES! OF! RAIN!) that resulted in changing our plans and not hitting outdoor sites that day, we managed to have a great time. It was a successful vacation because we PLANNED IT. It worked! We pulled it off! We were even all speaking to one another when we arrived back home! WINNING!
Well, and I made a really, really good social story that Bugaboo watched overandoverandoverandover before we left so that kinda helped a ton. Go get this app. HOLY COW. LIFE CHANGER.
Even though I heard, “Our hotel has a pool! We can go swimming! This is where we’ll eat breakfast!” about eleventy billion times a day, that social story was worth it’s weight in gold times infinity. Possibly more.
Brief vacation synopsis:
We hit the beach so the Bugaboo could play in the sand. Even though it was 82 degrees that day the water temp was 50 so standing on the beach was A LEETLE CHILLY.
We went to the land of magical beer faucets and bacon faucets. We timed it perfectly so there were no rides and buying a multi day pass with an online special meant no pressure to see everything in one day! Can you imagine? BEER! COMING FROM FAUCETS!
We saw new stuff. We saw old stuff. Lots of old stuff. And people pretending to be living in the time period of the old stuff.
We didn’t try to do everything in one day
We went at Bugaboo’s pace. Being able to swim each day meant he was all zen and sensory happy.
We rented a hotel room with a kitchenette so we could make some food in our room and not eat out so much when Bugaboo was already burnt out from being around gaggles of people all stinking day. Best. Idea. EVERRRR.
Free hotel breakfast. ‘Nuff said.
And most importantly, having a sense of humor.
With planning like that, we even had a few wonderful, memorable moments. Moments like, well, MY KID EATING LETTUCE FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!!!!
See? Evidence! And my kid “talking” and verbalizing up a storm. SEE?
Yep. It went so well we might even try this vacation stuff again.