The Lunch Date
“Catelyn, why don’t you sit up?” I queried to the head that was laying on my lap at the restaurant.
“I don’t want to,” a muffled voice replied.
“You could go sit with the rest of the kids?”
I moved my glass of water over and subtly began to bounce my leg, the one Cate’s head was resting on.
In retaliation, I felt a punch.
Slightly defeated I returned my attention to conversation of the group at the lunch table. With our older son’s busy schedule, our family had decided to meet another family for lunch.
The kids were all seated at the other end of our table. Talking, drawing, playing games together. All, except for one, that is. This one took one look at the kids at the other end and parked herself right next to me in between all the adults.
Thankfully when lunch arrived, Cate sat up to eat.
“Looks good!” the other dad commented as we all began to settle into our plates. He turned his attention to Cate and added,
“Do you like the grilled cheese, Catelyn?”
Catelyn looked at the table separating her from the other dad and replied, “Yes.”
As soon as she had eaten, her head returned to my lap, only to pop up again as we said our goodbyes to leave the restaurant.
The Group of Girls
“My Jessica is so shy.”
“What’s that?” I asked, eyebrows up, leaning towards Jessica’s mom.
“I said my Jessica is so shy.”
“Oh!” I said, taken a bit by surprise. I nodded and looked to the group of girls standing by the football field their older brothers were playing at, giggling, all talking on air phones to each other.
The girls seemed happy, enjoying each other’s company.
“Cate has her shy moments too,” I replied to Jessica’s mom and returned my look to the group of girls. “Looks like the girls are having a good time now at least.” I offered with a smile.
“Yes, you’re right.” Jessica’s mom smiled and looked at the girls with me.
Truth be told I had to bribe Catelyn out of her room to go to the football game. I told her I would buy her soda from the snack bar – a favorite. Otherwise, she would have happily stayed at home, in her room either on her device, playing with her dolls, writing or drawing. Her room is a place she enjoys plenty of alone time.
“Cate – are you sure you want this coat?”
I picked the coat up and held it high. It was perfect by mom standards. Warm, furry hood, long – and it was the prettiest light blue – a color Catelyn has abhorred in the past.
The coat, in general was a shock. Getting Cate to wear a coat that didn’t bother her sensory issues has always been a tremendous challenge.
“Yes,” Cate replied. “That is the one I want.”
“Okay,” I said out loud.
‘YES, YES, YES!!!’ I screamed on the inside, stifling my urge to run top speed to the counter to pay for the coat. Instead I walked as easily as possible.
A few weeks later a new friend of Catelyn’s came over. A girl, whom I have seen grow up with Catelyn on the soccer fields, softball and running, had befriended Cate in class.
As she walked in I gasped in shock.
“Hi there, Kayla,” I said, “Want to make some cupcakes with Cate?”
“Sure,” Kayla said. The she turned, took off the same exact warm, furry hood, long, beautifully colored light blue coat that I had just bought Catelyn, and put it on the chair.
Then I understood why Catelyn picked the coat, which I would have never imagined she would have worn happily in years past.
Earlier this week I ran across this informational piece. And when I looked at it, these recent events popped into my mind.
Not only is Catelyn at a different point on the spectrum than Declan, she is a girl, and her autism will present itself differently.
Her challenges are so easy to overlook. As her mom, these bits of information are always so helpful to me. Where I might parent Bobby one way, I will parent her in a different way based on her different needs.
With Bobby, I encourage him to always look an adult in the eyes and show respect. With Cate, I will support her if she tries.
I won’t make her sit at the kid table. I won’t admonish her for buying the same clothes as her friends. I get it – she is trying to figure (friends, clothes, behavior) it all out.
I will encourage her to come out of her room – sometimes connecting with others works out well. And can be a lot of fun.
And I will continue to try to understand what she is experiencing and support her through her journey!