Thursday, March 22, 2018

I don't know... Nope. Definitely not. Did not see that one coming... (Day 2)

"You're going the wrong way, mom!!!!"

"That's the wrong way!! No, Mom! The wrong way!"

Dream sequence fog glitters in and out...

Practice for the Cheer Competition was Friday morning.

Brother and I had talked about it several times; me asking if he wanted to go support the girls and him giving a bashful "no" or a shy "I don't know."

"I don't know."

That phrase should have been my cue.

But, I wasn't really sure if he should go either so I really took his "I don't know" as just that... that he wasn't sure either.

Usually, well, mostly, OK... 98 percent of the time when Brother says, "I don't know," it means "yes."

This took many, many trials of seeing him fall apart for me to realize that "I don't know" was actually his way of saying "yes" when he felt pressure to have an answer but wasn't sure if "yes" was going to be taken positively so saying, "I don't know," left room for him to excuse himself from any embarrassment of being told, "no."

Here's an example in case none of that paragraph made sense.

Me: Do you want to got bowling with Lauren?

Brother: I don't know.

Me: OK, that's great because she'll be here in 15 minutes.

Brother says, "I don't know," because that way if my answer was, "Well, I'm sorry, but you can't got bowling with her today," he can more easily dismiss his embarrassment to the opposite reaction he was hoping for.

So, keeping that translation in mind you can decipher what was really being said when we discussed Brother going to practice with the girls to get ready for competition on Friday morning...

Me: Brother, you understand that you are here to support your cheer team for their competition, right.

Brother: Ya.

Me: Would you still like to go watch them practice and show support?

Brother: I don't know.

Me: They'll be meeting in the morning to walk over together. Should we go with them?

Brother: I don't know.

Well, I try really hard to be the best judge I can in all circumstances with our kids and even though I have been doing this for 18 years I still make mistakes all the time.

Welcome to motherhood.

After seeing how long it took for him to calm down from the day at Disneyland and considering how late he finally fell asleep, I didn't have the heart to stir him from his snoring/drooling/floppy-faced slumber when I woke for breakfast that morning. I thought he really needed his rest. So, I took a risk and left him alone sleeping in the room while I went downstairs to bring up a plate of breakfast for him and me. I had gotten there so close to the end of breakfast time that there wasn't much to choose from, but it helped make the selection quicker so I could run back to our room.

He was still snoring and drooling with his arm dangling lifelessly from the edge of the bed, which was a relief that all was still as I had left it. I tried several times to wake him gently, but it finally took physically flipping him over to get him to stir.

He was happy with the bacon I had scavenged for him from what remained at the bottom of the serving tray and the hash browns too.

Again, about 30 minutes before the team was going to be gathering for their walk to practice, I asked Brother if he wanted to go support his team at practice, but this time I threw in, "or do you want to just sit here and watch Disney channel?"

The Disney Channel.

Also known as the nail in my coffin.

Practice was at 10:30 am and everyone was going to be meeting up for a team lunch at 2:00.

I figured I'd give ourselves plenty of time to make the 10 minute walk to the restaurant in case he wanted to stop and check anything out along the way or whatever... Honestly I was just so happy with how well he had done the day before that I was totally looking forward to spending time with just him. Marc or I don't ever get one on one time with Brother because... well... we're mom and dad... we don't fit in his category of "friends." Mom and Dad are just that, mom and dad. We are his home base, his comfort zone, his go-to when times are rough, his meal ticket, his life support, his home. So this opportunity to be with him on this walk one-on-one was a treat for me and I was excited about the possible bonding that might happen on this short walk to lunch.

So at 1:00 Brother and I were ready to walk over to meet up with the team for lunch. We would be walking the point six mile stretch to the entrance of Disneyland and then down the main street between the parks to get to the restaurant we were to meet at.

I should have been ready for the catastrophe that was about to ensue when once we got to the hotel lobby Brother began looking around and asking where his friends were.

"They went to practice earlier. Remember?" I stated cautiously.

He looked slightly disgusted by this announcement and frustrated with me for not meeting with everyone in the lobby to walk together.

When we exited the front doors, I sensed his panic heighten. We were no more than eight feet from the entry when he yelled, "Judy's little girl!" but this time it was not followed by a giggle or half smile. He was mad.

I had my maps on so that I would know how to get to the rendezvous point and saw another route that might be a little faster so I hesitantly turned right and walked a few feet and realized that this plan would not work and that we would need to take the same route we had the day before, you know, for routine's sake.

I'm not sure if I had continued to go right and just bluffed my through that it would have changed the course of what was about to ensue, but I chose to go to the left as we had done the first day.

"You're going the wrong way, mom!!!! That's the wrong way!! No, Mom! The wrong way!"

I'm starting to see my mistake and understanding that we should have gone to the practice that morning, but it was too late now and all I could do was let his anxiety yell at me until it would calm enough to walk in the direction I was suggesting—left.

I saw a young family walk past us in a rush as they could see that Brother was about to lose his top and his long arms flailing at me and his strong cheering voice yelling at me was giving all the passersby no inclination that he was having a good time.

Then he bolted.


I did not see that one coming.

He runs a little like a puppet controlled by strings that are too long for full control and yet it is truly amazing at how fast he can move!

Especially when it is looking like he has no intention of stopping at the crossway of heavy traffic!

I panicked.

The over-the-top-mother came out in my head and I was picturing him running aimlessly into the traffic!

I was trying to keep my cool as much as I could while worrying about the safety of my son and trying to run while my ankle (healing from surgery) is still trying to figure out how to walk briskly, let alone run.

"Stop!!!" I screamed.


I was grateful when he seemed to notice the few people waiting there at the crosswalk and he stopped because they were stopped, definitely not because I asked him to.

He was still yelling/screaming at me and as soon as one desperate person trying to flee this strangers rants put one foot off the curb, Brother was running maniacally across to the adjacent sidewalk.

I hurried to catch up with him.

At this point I'm not sure if I am crying or if the breeze from running is irritating my eyes, but I can feel the tears streaking over my eyelids and into my smile lines (yup, smile lines, that's what they are). I start dabbing at my eyeliner in hopes that while chasing and being yelled at by my son that I'm not looking like some kind of nightmare to the passersby.

Then he suddenly and completely, randomly runs from the sidewalk off the curb to the side of the busy street! There was a car passing by right at that time and I'm not sure who was more scared, me or the driver of that car. It didn't look like a good situation even if it wasn't intentional... and I'm pretty sure it wasn't, but terrifying nonetheless. I think he was just fleeing from me and really didn't pay attention to the fact he had just almost darted onto the road.

I screamed, "NO! Stop!" again and that was not a good idea, I knew I had to gain control of my emotions so that I could be completely calm and, in turn, have him deescalate or even start to enjoy our walk together.

He kept yelling at me. We even scared a homeless man that was at the corner asking for handouts. He didn't even try asking us to give him anything, but you could tell he was nervous about the situation heading his way and couldn't decipher if he should try to help me or the young man who was yelling at me.

Now I can say, "Hey, you know it's bad when you scare a homeless man!"

A lot of things that I am not going to give detail to at this time, but let's just say that my eyes were stinging with tears and eyeliner.

I felt helpless. I finally thought to call Brother's coach, Debi to quickly and quietly describe the situation and see if there were anywhere near where Brother and I were at that moment. They were still too far away and were actually approaching the restaurant completely from the other side.

I cut the phone call short when Brother, once again, had put himself in a dangerous situation.

It had been about 45 minutes of constant nightmarish chaos causing dirty looks, scared faces and complete confusion/concern and my dream of bonding with my son on a walk was now long forgotten.

I was trying to keep the flood gates of my tears closed so that while trying to get Brother safely to the restaurant I didn't make a really bad situation look even worse.

Not only was I now staking claim on the Homeless man too scared of us, but now I can say that Disneyland security guards and their dogs would come near us to assess the situation, but seemed to be catching on that Brother had some special needs going on and would cautiously and slowly leave.

I am going to insert something here. I know that you mean well, but if you are one of those people who wants to say, "Well, it sounds like a typical 18-year-old boy who doesn't want to be with his parents," just don't even let it come out of your mouth. You can think it, but please don't say it out loud unless your typical adult son has acted out his feelings about not wanting to be with you like a toddler would then you cannot possibly think that saying "he's acting like any other 18-year-old" could ever make me feel better or add any less stress to the situation. I am laughing about bits and pieces here and there, because I have to laugh to stay sane, and frankly there are always funny things, but don't belittle the situation by saying that it was no big deal.

To be honest there were a few times that I almost stopped the security officer on purpose to ask for help in getting my son to our meeting point. I was desperate and just wasn't sure I was going to make it.

I'll now skim past the pouting, hiding, screaming, raging, darting, and stopping to get to the point of the security check at the entrance.

Surprisingly he was starting to calm down at this point. This spot must have seemed more familiar to him and he was feeling safer in the "routine" he was remembering from the day before. Debi called at this time and I was talking to her and Brother continued to calm even more as he was reassured in hearing her voice saying that we were heading in the right direction. He was starting to notice Minnie Mouse and other characters in the store fronts and that was a very good sign that his anxiety was starting to take a break.

My tears had dried and I could only imagine what my face looked like from all the eyeliner and mascara I had put on to help the selfies I was hoping to take with my son on our fantastic walk to Disneyland that morning. Don't worry, I didn't get any pictures, but when we walked past the LEGO store Brother was calmed down enough that I, at least, got some photos of the cool structures built out of LEGO bricks. I tried to cheer Brother up by offering to take a picture of him with Belle and the Beast in LEGO form, but he yelled, "Judy's little girl!" and darted from me... so I just got the sculptures.

As soon as we reached the restaurant I started to cry again. Out of relief that it was over I guess.

One of Brother's teammates who has Down Syndrome was already there with her parents and Brother was happy to see them and start socializing with them. I was completely distraught to here that they too just hung out at the hotel that morning and walked to the restaurant not too long before we did. My heart ached that if I had just reached out to them, the whole fiasco would have been avoided because Brother would have been walking with friends.


Here's a pretty picture of the fish tank at the restaurant entrance though...

Lunch tasted very good, but conversation was tough as I was trying to explain what had happened with the walk there to the coaches and parents without succumbing to tears and feelings of inadequacy for raising Brother, again, I just have to mention that I had no idea what my face looked like after the waterworks and wind and stinging eyes from irritation of too much make-up... (and trust me, when I did get back to the hotel and had the chance to look at myself in the mirror, I had to laugh hysterically at myself because it looked like I had 3 painted black stripes running vertically up my eyelids with reddened puffiness at the bottom and grayish substance gathering the smile lines with raindrop shapes stretching out to me hair line! Trust me! It was a sight to behold. I am truly amazed at the strength of the other adults to not say a word about how I looked, but I also made sure to get after them for not telling me. Ha ha ha ha ha!)

Anyway, after lunch I had vowed that I would NEVER go anywhere on this trip unless Brother and I were with his coaches, Debi and Abby. So on our way back to the hotel to get ready for competition we made sure to stick by their sides.

Of course when we walked back by the LEGO store he just had to get a picture with Belle and the Beast with his coaches. (heart)

Looking at him in this picture you would never guess at what the previous two hours had held.

I made sure to help Brother feel involved by coming with me to help braid girls' hair for the competition. He was happy to be with them and I was happy that he was too.

Brother walked in with the team to the competition and my heart sank just a little bit as I realized that I was walking into a competition only to watch my son be a spectator, but I had talked to him about being the best spectator possible.

And he was!

He even got to be in the team picture they took before the competition!

He's down there at the bottom of the mats cheering loud and clear for his friends. 

He was so happy for them. It really was fun to watch!

After their performance we waited for the results.

We were all a little disheartened to hear that we didn't place in the preliminaries to be able to go to the finals the next day.

In my heart and Brother's, though, Orem High School Cheer Squad will always be the best of the best, number one, top of the crop!

Brother was so proud to have his picture taken on the stage!

I asked Brother if he had fun and 
he grinned and jumped and yelled excitedly, 

No "I don't know" was needed this time! 
He was positive what my response would be.

It was all worth it.

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