"Hey, I think I'll run to Aldi," I say, nonchalantly. We only need a gallon of milk, some half-and-half, bread and some sliced cheese. I can handle this. I can still drive, and Aldi is less than 1/2 mile from the house. I pick up my purse (thinking it feels like a small child is inside...although I have only my wallet, Amy's cell phone and a few other small items) and head for the door. Lifting my heavy feet I think to myself, "Man, I hope it isn't busy at Aldi. At least it is a super-small store and I'll have a cart to lean on when I get there." Walking down the ramp, I notice that the right rear tire on the van is nearly flat. I groan. Up the ramp again, I open the door and announce "I may be gone a few extra minutes. I have to find a gas station to put air in the tire." Amy peeks around me out the door and, seeing the tire, says, "We'll go with you and I can put the air in the tire....(implied: "since it will be hard for you to manage the fine motor part of things"). Gratefully, I say "that would be great" and head to the van to start it to warm it up. The ice and snow -- now slush -- from the "blizzard" we had 3 days ago still lingers despite today's temperatures in the mid-40s.
Amy, Christopher and I set out on our errands. No biggie. The gas station is around the corner and we pull up to the "Air" station only to realize that we have no quarters. I send Amy into the store with some one-dollar bills (not knowing how many "doses" of air the tire will take at $0.75 each), while I pull around to get 6 gallons of gas for over $20.00! Pumping gas is no fast-feat for me anymore, but I'm successful and Christopher is cooperative and calm while he waits. We pull back around to the "Air" station and Amy fills the tire. A belt squeals on the van, but we are so happy that it is running we don't even care!
A few blocks down the street we pull in to Aldi and, after a brief "conference" Amy and I decide that it will be easier for me to go in alone than for all of us to go (or for me to be left in the car with the "chatty one" who will tire me out making me talk....try telling an autistic kid to be quiet when their world revolves around repeating the same phrase over and over and over until you FINALLY repeat it back -- so they can move on to the next cycle). Aldi goes well and Christopher waited so patiently that Amy asks, "Christopher, would you like to use your McDonald's gift card that Sarah sent you?" (as if she didn't know the answer to THAT question!). By now I'm getting tired. Stupid muscles. I haven't done anything! Why am I getting tired?!
As we approach McD's Amy asks, "Christopher, would you like to eat in?" This is followed by squeals of glee, as if the cacophony of sounds in McDonald's, enough to drive an adult mad, are somehow tolerable to an autistic 10 year old who can only see and smell a double cheeseburger (plain) and french fries.
We pull into the parking place closest to the door and, as ALWAYS, on the row nearest the building (NO ONE in their right mind would take an autistic kid to McDonald's and park where the enticing cheeseburger on the other side of the drive-thru lane is more important than the vehicle racing to get their "fast food"). Amy opens the sliding van door and Christopher falls out onto his hands and knees on the pavement between the two adjacent vehicles. The meltdown-to-be is short circuited by the amazing discovery of a crushed plastic pop bottle, complete with syrupy residue, on the pavement under the van. "PUT THAT DOWN!" is out of Amy's mouth before I even know what has happened. But the drama has begun. Although a meltdown has been avoided by the fortuitous find under the van, the temptation is just too great, and as soon as he has stepped onto the sidewalk, Christopher once again drops to his hands and knees. People are noticing now. The girl on her smoke-break from inside Mc D's, crouches on the sidewalk with a look of puzzlement. A young woman in a vehicle is so focused on the spectacle that she forgets to look as she starts to back out of her parking space and nearly hits one of those "fast food" fast-drivers racing for the drive-thru.
Somehow, we manage to survive our 15 minutes of fame and the beeping and yelling inside this "restaurant" (I think that is stretching the definition of the term just a tad). My comment about the depth of the gene pool inside Mickey D's on this particular visit will go undocumented.
Three simple errands. I feel as if I have just run the stairs at the RCA dome 50 times as fast as I can. My feet flop as I walk, feeling like "flippers" at the ends of my legs. I hold on to things as I move to get back into the car and when I get out once we get home. Now it is time to take the groceries into the house. Amy carries them while I watch Christopher stomping happily in the slush in the driveway. Amy returns, announcing "I sat the groceries on the table and I'll take the stuff to the freezer (in the detached garage) in a second. I'm gonna let him play until he gets cold and gets it out of his system." In my stubbornness, I decide that I can take the bread to the freezer while they play, so I get the key to the garage, carefully walk to the door and unlock it. Just as I'm placing the bread in the freezer I hear, "Do you have a house key?!" "No.....the door is unlocked," I reply. "Not anymore!" is all I hear Amy reply. Christopher, in 0.16 seconds has managed to reach inside the door, lock it and slam it shut. Great. I'm tired. He's now wet from slush and we're locked out of the house and the sun is setting.
"Sharyll, do you think you could come over and bring your spare house key. Christopher's locked us out," Amy says, as I thank GOD for cell phones. So, now it's time to entertain the autistic kid until we can get back in the house. I know... let's shovel slush! Great fun....or not so much. Mostly, Christopher watches Amy shovel while he throws ice chunks, getting colder and wetter by the minute. After what seems like years, I venture to ask the question on both Amy and my mind "Hey, Amy. Sharyll knows that we're locked OUTside, right?" Amy, in her ever-quick wit answers, "I have a vision of her knocking on the front door" We laugh, but we're all getting colder and Christopher is now wet from head to toe, his jeans, coat and mittens soaked. He is no longer enjoying this little "adventure". Just as Sharyll arrives, Christopher can take no more and the meltdown ensues. All 110 pounds of him falls to the ground as his wet limbs flail and he tries to kick, hit and bite Amy (all for trying to help him get up!). Sharyll unlocks the door while I try to stay out of harms way and we all go inside. Christopher is stripped of his soaked-to-the-skin clothing and we start a load of laundry. I can finally put the milk away.