Susan's Blog

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Five Star Day

What a day. I started with a troubled feeling which led to the previous post, but a good bike ride helped ease some of that. Then, a trip to Fenway Park, a glorious walk home, a sweet nap, and dinner out. At the end of the night, Ned and I are going to watch The Aristocrats, which we’ve seen before. It is extremely raunchy, sometimes offensive, but really, really funny.

I bike this 10 mile loop which is both urban and suburban, with lots of hills, which I like because I enjoy the feeling of my legs working hard. I ride in the hardest gear all the time.

I began with a sweatshirt on but by the end of the ride the sun had come out and I could unzip it, and I needed my sunglasses. Every single shrub, branch, and bit of ground, was tinted with the new green of spring. Frothy pink trees had exploded into bloom overnight. Easter-egg colored tulips floated on fat green stems.

Came home, had lunch, and then Steph came over to be with Nat. The rest of us were going to Fenway Park, for our very first family baseball game, the Sox vs. the Seattle Mariners. We all know next to nothing about baseball, although we did watch and cheer when they won the World Series two years ago. I feel the need to explain why we chose not to take Nat. We were only given four tickets, and I thought we should give Ben the chance to get to like a sport, since so many of his friends do. Plus we thought Nat would just be spacey and maybe even difficult. Turns out we were probably wrong. Next time we’ll leave Ben, take Nat (if we only get four tix).

I thought the whole thing was going to be spoiled when we got to the gate and the guy made us throw away Ben’s water bottle. Ben had grown very attached to this water bottle, filling it daily and offering to pour us water each night at the table. But in order to enter the ballpark, I had to throw it out. It felt like flushing Max’s dead goldfish. Ben cried, and said that he was going to “tell the President about this.” I agreed that it was a stupid policy, and offered to buy him a new water. But his arms were folded and he was totally closed up.

As I said, our neighbor had given us the four tickets, which were amazing seats: front row of the new section one level up behind home plate. We were comfortable, had an excellent view, and there was food and drink service right there. We bought the boys hot dogs and Ben cheered up when he got his water. The game began and it was exhilarating to watch, because it was simply baseball and yet there we were, in Fenway, watching The Red Sox.

There was Papi (David Ortiz) and Manny Ramirez. We quickly learned all the things you’re supposed to do, like chant, “You, you, you,” when Youkilis comes up to bat, and to boo Carl Everett of the Mariners who used to be a Red Sox and apparently had once head-butted the umpire. And when Sweet Caroline (a corny Neil Diamond song that I deep down really love) came on the loudspeaker, we all sang and laughed. Ben asked for his pad and pen by the third inning. Every so often he asked when it would be over, but he seemed content. Max ate three hot dogs and kept in touch via cellphone, with his friends who were also there. I sometimes leaned on Ned’s shoulder and felt like I did so many years ago at Spring Fling at Penn, when we were 19 and newly in love. It was April then, too, and warm like today, with the same festive, picnic-party-like feel to it.

We chose to walk home because the T would have been too crowded, and it was only two miles, a gorgeous walk past the hospitals where all my boys were born. I wondered if Nat had had a good time with Steph, who was taking him to see Ice Age II. No calls from Steph, who used to work at Nat’s school, so I knew all was well.

Upstairs for a catnap. I sunk into my pillows and fell asleep right away. I woke up half an hour later, feeling a little refreshed but not enough.

After a while, it became clear that neither Ned nor I wanted to cook. I said, “I want something different, can’t we just do that for once?”

Ned said, “How about Thai?” Max groaned and Ben pouted, and my heart sank. Nat jumped up and said “Yes, go to restaurant.” Proving once again that autism does not have to be the defining factor in family challenges.

In the restaurant, Max was sullen and Ben was fighting with him over who gets which water. Then, the water had ice in it. Then, bits of lemon. Nothing was right. My head was heavy and still tired, and I said, chanelling my parents, “If you guys can’t be nice, I am going to punish you when we get home.” Instantly I felt like a heel. I sunk in my chair. Ned leaned across the table and whispered, “Sue, remember, this is new to them, and so whatever they manage will be a victory, right?”

I rolled my eyes. But I knew he was right. “Yeah, okay, I’ll try.” And then, I looked at them and felt those love-flutters pushing away my anger and I sighed and said, “I’m sorry boys. I’m just tired and I want to have fun.”

Ben said, “What would our punishment have been?” I smiled and said, “I don’t know. It was an empty threat, I guess.” We don’t punish them, I realized. We don’t have to. We speak firmly at times, and hold up certain boundaries and expectations, so punishment is never necessary.

Ben made chopsticks out of the chicken satay skewers and enjoyed using them with sticky rice. Max managed to eat some chicken and liked the sweet pea pods. Nat ate everything put before him: sweet beef, chicken satay, Pad Thai. Ned and I had pretty good curries.

And then, the piece de la resistance: At the end of the meal, a woman came up to me and said, “Excuse me. But I just read your book and I had to tell you I loved it.”

Wow. Recognized in a restaurant!

A perfect end to a five-star day.


Glad to hear your day has improved.

BTW, I just purchased your book as well. I’m finishing a novel before I start it though. I can’t stand to put a book down without finishing it…even if I’m not enjoying it. My son’s ABA therapists are trying to break some of his rigidities and that’s one way they’re doing it – not completing a book. My son has a fit! I don’t blame him…I’d feel the same way (one of my own autistic tendencies perhaps?). So I’m speed-reading this novel so that I can get to your book. Based on the many, many positive reviews I’ve read, I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

— added by Wendy on Saturday, April 15, 2006 at 11:02 pm

That is a really good feeling, isn’t it? Someone came up to me about my blog as it was reviewed in a book club and it was reaffirming to me that imparting our messages, telling our stories, just might touch others.

Susan, you touch many people.

— added by Estee Klar-Wolfond on Sunday, April 16, 2006 at 8:13 am

I’m just jealous of those Fenway seats! Wow.

— added by Pete Lyons on Sunday, April 16, 2006 at 10:27 pm

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