I lug the girls to swim class at the beach. Today is the first day. We have enjoyed our daily visits to the beach and I thought today would be no exception. However, as soon as Sienna sees the social setting of her swim class, she regresses to baby talk and shuts down into utter avoidance. There she stands wimpering in the corner near the showers next to the concession stand terrified to take one step closer to the water and children. Sarah, my zestful toddler is wanting to push her stroller and take a walk far away - away from the crowd - away from the upcoming conflict with her older sister and away from any person. She walks and walks, in the zone and will not listen to anything I say. It is as if she can't hear me. Although, I know she can hear me because she has acute hearing. She can hear the train from the town 20 miles from us before it is humanly possible for anyone else to hear it. With her super sonic hearing, she is startled by the choochoos in her little ears that it will wake her up from deep sleep. I know she can hear me say, "Sarah, stay where I can see you. Sarah, why don't you play here." I realize that I need to get my oldest daughter settled into her swim lesson before I can deal with the toddler so I bargain. I barter. I bribe. There she stands, stiffened with noncompliance and fear. Feeling so frustrated that little Sarah keeps walking away from us, I sternly tell Sienna that we are leaving and she will spend the rest of the day in her room. For a second, I can feel all the eyes on me from all the mothers along the beach. The mothers that sit, so relaxed on their lawn chairs, flipping through their People magazines while their two to three children sit in obedience waiting patiently for their older siblings to finish swim class. I wonder what the other moms are thinking. Are they forgiving or do they take pity on us? Desperately wanting answers for my ever-changing yet always existing circumstance of autism, I welcome suggestions. I feel so awkward as a mother. Yet, somehow, when ever anyone gives me a suggestion, I resent the advice and the person for not understanding the full breadth of my situation.
The next 30 minutes I spend in constant trouble shooting mode, sweating. I don't like the term, 'white trash' because I believe that people are created by God and He doesn't make trash. I have never liked that term but unfortunately, it is a term that others can relate to. I feel like a white trash mom. A mom who probably didn't graduate from high school and she is probably on food stamps. She is usually seen slapping her kids at Walmart and screaming at her kids saying 'Shut up stupid!' I don't do that but this dose of autism has roughened me up. I am not the mom I thought I would be. I am only one iota away from being a mom like that at times.
Other than our own white trash freak show, all anyone can hear on the peaceful morning at the beach are the kids splashing as they enjoy learning to swim. I then hear a girl I recognized from Sienna's kindergaren class run up to her mom. Her name is Ann and she throws her arms around her mom as her mom holds a nice fluffy towel out to wrap around her. Ann tells her mom how fun class was and that she met a new friend, Tricia. "Tricia is is seven too!"
Oh how I wish that Sienna would have been in Ann's swim class. That is one of the reasons I signed her up for that class. I like Ann and her mom and I had thought that Sienna meshed well with Ann. I have invited Ann over for play dates. She came to our house once. She has people over to her house a lot. She lives in one of those houses that has a pool and lots of things for kids to do. Her mom used to have play groups over at her house. I think she might still have play groups over, but we aren't getting invited. It seems like we invited people over but don't get invited to other people's homes. That is what happens when you have two children with autism.
I pulled Sienna out of swim class for the rest of the summer. Most moms would give it another try. I know my limitations. Most moms would chalk it up to a bad morning. I have had too many of those. Instead, I throw myself a pity party and cry in front of the girls all the way home.