Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Becoming Brave

"Mom! I wish I was brave like him," Sister exclaimed to me with a big smile and worried eyes.

After dinner Marc and I decided it would be fun to go swimming at the local recreation center as a family.

I don't think I was in a very good mood because as soon as Brother started to state his disdain at the idea of going anywhere, I gave up without a fight and decided, "Whelp... I guess we're not going. Just like we never do. We can't get our kids to go anywhere." ... Yep, I was in a bad mood.

Thank goodness Marc wasn't. After a few minutes of me wandering around in my disgust and disappointment about my life and its circumstances Marc asked, "So are we going swimming?"

I replied with a melancholy, "No."

Sister heard this and exclaimed she wanted to go swimming.

I'm not sure what came over me. Maybe it was the admiration I had for Marc to be strong enough to push for something that was going to start out rough, but possibly be great.

Anyway, I went around packing the kids' things for swimming; towels, swimsuits, etc. and after some bitter exchanges between Brother and I we were all out in the van and on our way to go swim at the rec.

Our local rec center isn't typically busy, so I was really pulling for it being especially sparsely attended on a wintery Tuesday night. When we pulled into the parking lot we ended up searching hard for a parking spot because it was completely packed. Brother noticed this and began to scream and kick the seat say that it was going to be too busy, too crowded and we should go home.

Marc and I calmly reassured him through his ranting as we parked at the park across the street.

The girls were quite excited and anxious to get out of the van and head over to swim, but Brother was holding tight to his seat while screaming in his moose-toned yell that he was, "staying right here!"

I don't remember what it was that finally got him out of the car, but we did get a few looks as we were walking across the street and the parking lot because of our "full-grown" man's behavior. He continued to yell, as we entered the doors of the rec center, but in a slightly more controlled tone so as not to scare the people in the gym too badly.

We made it through the entrance and to the mens locker room where I left Marc and Brother to get ready to swim and I took the girls with me and we got ready ourselves.

The three of us headed to the pool and soon after Marc came to tell me that Brother was in the men's locker room crying and screaming in the corner and he couldn't get him to come to the pool.

I could tell Marc was exasperated and at his wit's end and I was nervous about how on earth I was going to help my anxious, mentally impaired son from outside of the locker room.

I left Marc with the girls to go see what kind of magic I could work to get Brother out of the men's locker room and too the pool with the family.

I stood outside the men's locker room entry way with a towel around my waist, so as not to make too much of a spectacle of myself standing there in my swimsuit, while calling loudly, but lovingly, "[Brother!] [Brother!] [Brother,] come here please!"

There were a few men who came out giving me a confused and creeped-out look and I really couldn't blame them. I could hear Brother whimpering and I was starting to get worried that we wouldn't have success getting him to the pool.

"Is he standing in the corner?" a man asked me when he was coming out.

"Probably," I sheepishly answered.

"Who are you? Do you want me to tell him to come out?"

"I'm his mom."

He walks back in and I hear him speak in a gentle voice, "[Brother], are you [Brother]? [Brother], your mom is calling for you. She is waiting at the door for you and wants you to come out. Do you know how to get to her? You can follow me to where she is."

I have to admit, I was in between being freaked out because I was scared something awful would happen while I wasn't able to be with my son in the men's locker room and the other part of me was almost in grateful tears for this man coming to our aid.

The kind man emerged first, the Brother behind him.

I told the kind man thank you and then gestured to Brother and he grabbed his swimsuit from my hands, handed me his jacket and flailed back into the locker room. I knew this meant that he had decided to swim with us so I rushed back to the pool to get Marc to help him along the rest of the way.

Marc was gone for a few minutes and I started worrying that Brother was still putting up a fight, then I saw Marc come from the men's locker room and Brother was several paces behind him with his hands waving side to side as he quickly walked to the pool where the girls and I were.

One of those moments that I am grateful it all worked out OK.

It was great too because there was, maybe, eight other people in the pool besides the 5 of us.

After the tension of the aforementioned ordeal had worn off we were all having a great time. Even Baby was getting into the water up to her neck! This was amazing because she usually doesn't even get in past her ankles! She was so excited to follow Sister everywhere and do what she was doing that she didn't seem to mind the water this time.

There was one slide there at the pool and Sister was watching a boy who looked much younger than her go down it several times by himself. She seemed thoroughly impressed and kept telling me, "Mom! I wish I was brave like him!"

At Summer Camp Sister would sometimes go down the slides at another pool if someone was with her and even then it took quite a bit of coaxing and encouragement.

Marc went up to the top of the slide with her and Sister was brave and went down on her own. Marc came flying down soon after--which made me smile.

When Sister came off the slide she looked around for me and when I caught her eye she began cheering and jumping up and down. She came to me and went quickly past me to go down the slide again. I said, "You're so brave!" and she smiled from ear to ear as she almost-skipped to the slide entrance.

Brother was swimming like a merman in the deeper part of the pool and completely loving it.

Marc went to the lap pool and swam some laps.

After about an hour we needed to get the kids home to bed for school. We followed what we have learned about prepping them for leaving and reminded them of the minutes to go. Leaving the pool and heading to the locker room went off without a tantrum or struggle.

While I was in the locker room with the girls getting dried off and dressed I noticed a woman with Down Syndrome who was curiously watching us. We were taking quite a while to get ourselves dried and situated and I worried that we were standing in front of her locker so I explained to her that we would hurry. She seemed to get shy about me talking to her and she went to hide behind and empty shower curtain. About 5 minutes later I heard a man's voice calling from the women's locker room doorway, "Caroline! Caroline! Caroline? Are you there?" The woman I had startled emerged from behind the curtain to find where the man's voice was coming from and she seemed to be confused as to how to get to him. A lady noticed and asked, "Are you Caroline? I think some one is looking for you at the door. Do you need me to help you get there?"

It was as if I was getting the opportunity to watch what had happened earlier with Brother from the other perspective. It was like watching an after school T.V. special with all the feel goods and lessons to be learned.

Swimming and leaving the recreation center was so successful that if anyone had seen us walking in they would never have guessed we were the same family walking out of it.

I could feel mine and Marc's pride beaming as we exited.

We did it.

We got our family out of the house to do something.

Then we got in the van.

Sister began to say that her tummy was hungry and she needed a hamburger.

We had not come prepared to go out to eat after swimming so we had to tell Sister that this was not going to happen and we had plenty to eat at home.

While she was seemingly turning into a grotesquely angry monster in the back seat as she writhed, screamed, bit herself and scared her siblings half to death it dawned on me: we did so good with preparing to leave, but we forgot that we usually bribe our kids with a fast food run if they go somewhere with us. How could I not have been prepared for this. This was routine. Whether our kids are hungry or not, if we go out as a family we go out to eat. Period.

I quietly acknowledged our mistake to Marc so that he could have the "Aha" moment too and then proceeded on our way home with no fast food stop.

Next time we'll know that fast food must happen or I need to bring along something special to eat on the way home.

Sometimes we learn the hard way.

Being brave is something that seems to come with experience and trial.

I sometimes don't think I like being brave because it seems too hard.

I'll just have to keep trying to become brave and maybe even be OK with just the "becoming" part of the scenario.
Baby was brave when we went to a New Year's Even party and she ventured into their basement

Brother was brave when he went ice skating with his Life Skills class

Baby was brave to take a selfie while using Mom's phone that she had been told not to touch

Baby was brave enough to try the "dinner" Sister made for her

And this picture is just because I love seeing these two sisters be sisters...
Oh, but Marc and I had to brave going into this room until I was brave enough to help Sister clean it up...
trust me, that takes bravery.
Legos and paper are like landmines!

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