autism,  cross-country,  family,  high school,  teen years

The blessing and curse of a long weekend

Welcome to Fargo, Grandma Sandy!

Four days, a birthday party, a grandma in town, a walk in the woods, and a final XC meet.

It’s been a busy fall break.

I worry about weekends like this and trying to make sure the balance for J is right in all of it. Sometimes we get it wrong. Sometimes we get it right. I think this time we mostly got it right. I think we assume teenagers are a lot like us adults, that they can just go with the flow and handle that balance of weaving between their busy lives of work (homework in their case), extracurricular, and downtime in a fair and balanced way. I think we forget that they deal with (and internalize) all the stress and pressure that comes with those responsibilities. I think we forget that they’re going through massive physical/emotional changes that we’re not going through. I think we forget that they’re trying to figure out how to be a good teen and adult at the same time, because they want to be both. And I think we also forget that in some ways, they still want to be kids too.

I know I’m guilty of this. And I know that sometimes I forget J has autism on top of all of those expectations and assumptions I have. When he’s handling all of those expectations of handling his life, I forget he has autism. When he has a meltdown–teenage life is overwhelming for any teenager–I get frustrated with him and get frustrated with his autism. Looking back at this weekend, I need to give him a little more credit for all the stuff we throw at him.

J had his last meet of the season Wednesday and he did so awesome! He ran his first XC 4K, got lost a few times, and came in dead last. But he finished it! And he was mentally committed to finishing and had a great attitude about it.

All of the XC boys are so great with J in their own ways. So grateful for all of them!


These kids are my favourite!

Steve’s mom flew out for the weekend and was able to see J and W’s XC meet. Thursday, we took her to Maplewood for some fall weather hiking, and at first, J had a really hard time with it. After his doctor’s appointment Thursday morning, he came home and started a video game marathon on the wii. After about an hour on the wii, we told him to get off and he was quite upset about it. In retrospect, I’m sure he was planning his weekend one way (staying home from school and playing video games) while the adults in his life had already made plans for him. He did pull himself together, but wasn’t really happy about the trip to Maplewood.

Maplewood state park. Lots of lakes, and lots of trees.

Steve and his mom. It was so great she could come out and visit!

Friday we drove around Fargo, trying to pull a Halloween costume together for J’s church Halloween dance. He really wanted to be Captain Von Trapp from the Sound of Music. Finally we found a women’s suit that fit him at Savers and I added the green felt on the lapels. I’m not sure if anyone knew who he was, but he was pretty happy with it.

Captain Von Trapp, complete with the “keep the kid in line” whistle.
The picture I had to work with.

And then Saturday came around and we finally threw J a little birthday party. Our weekends have been so busy with XC, that this was the first time we could throw something together. J had some good friends from church come over to share cake and go bowling. At first, I think he was pretty overwhelmed–we had already done so much that weekend–because he would just quietly sneak away at times or quietly check out at the bowling alley. Luckily,  these boys are so awesome with him and know how to take it all in stride.

Another awesome batch of boys. I’m so grateful that there are so many kids out there willing to love and support J.

I could tell J was a little overwhelmed, but he stayed quiet and in control and if that was all he could do at that point, then that was perfect.

J’s back to school today and I know there are going to be things that he will struggle with. That’s the blessing and the curse of a long weekend. He will struggle with the school routine again. He will struggle with his number phobias with 11:21 on the clock at school. He’ll struggle through the two big unit tests he has with math and English this week. He will struggle with the change of no longer having XC afterschool. He’ll struggle finding his groove back into the routine and it will probably be a week or two until that happens. That’s the hard part about autism. Even when you’re handling it well, it seems like there are so many other things you’re not handling well. I guess, in some ways, he’s not that different from most of us after all.


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