Saturday, March 31, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

It's softball season once again. My oldest daughter loves to play softball and is on the high school team, and in the summer, a travel team. I love to watch her play. She really comes alive when she is out there on the field. Softball is probably the one thing that she is best at, that she is the most passionate about, and what she works the hardest for, year round. Unfortunately, softball games are very long, can be very boring if you aren't "into" it, and are always outside where you can encounter such environmental extremes from freezing to boiling hot. There is no in between. If by chance you get a beautiful day for a game, there is probaly going to be a whipping wind or a ton of mosquitoes. None of these things trouble a die hard softball mom, but all of these make it very hard on a softball sister, especially an autistic one.

I try everything to make going to the game easier on Katie. I pack a lunch or dinner. I pack extra snacks. I pack extra kool aid and juice boxes. I pack music, and magazines and coloring books. I pack sweatshirts and blankets. I pack fans and water squirt bottles. I look like a bag lady when I go to the games. I have so much stuff that my in laws bought me a big wagon to lug it all around in. You just never know what is going to come up, what problem you might encounter, or what mood Katie will be in.

Eating her lunch usually will take us through half of the first inning. Then she will want to walk around. Then she will get into the bag of things to do. If I am lucky, she will spend some time listening to music. If I am REALLY lucky, someone from the family will be there that she will want to talk to. That takes us into the 2 nd inning. During this time, I am trying to watch the game, take pictures, talk to the other parents, and keep track of what is going on. Usually that is hard to do because Katie is constantly asking for something, complaining about the weather, or fighting with her little sister.

At some point during the game, it will become too much for Katie. If I am really lucky that day, my husband will be there to help, but usually he is working. If he is there, one of us can take her home if we are close by, or take her to the car to sit. If I am by myself, I will have to miss most of the game, trying to get Katie to the car without making a total scene. She is usually crying by this point, what I call " going out in a blaze of glory". Everyone is staring, we are all embarrassed, and I will not be able to watch the rest of the game. This is the hardest part for me, because I feel like I have to choose between my children. I am used to doing this, because when you have 3 children, you inevitably have to choose from time to time. But with softball games, I always have to choose Katie in order to not create a huge scene. I regret having to miss the rest of the game, and I regret having to do it every single time. That is one of the reasons I try to do so much for my other two children. Chaperone dances and field trips, help out in their classrooms, pick them and their friends up from school or practices and being them snacks. I try to do more, because at some point I will have to leave them when they are doing their best. I will have to leave them when they are at the top of their game. Sometimes, my Adventures in Autism force me to take my ball and go home. I am not complaining. I do what I have to do in the moment that it is needed. I just wanted everyone to know why we leave in a blaze of glory.

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