March 11, 2016

The Flip Side to Flexible

When you have Special in your life, you learn to adapt.  As do your other children.

I am not speaking of the adapting of your physical environment - your home, your furniture, the car, etc. Although, we do all of that to the umpteenth degree.

It is the adapting of your brain.

The other children learn to adapt their brains -- to be disappointed, to be intruded upon, to be hurt, to be patience when they don't feel it, to be calm when they are stressed, to be inconvenienced, to be annoyed, to be put upon, to be put last, to be wronged, to deal.

They learn to be flexible.

Special comes with a lot of lessons in flexibility. 

This January, as I was sitting in the hospital all afternoon unexpectedly with Bridger - I had just hung up with my daughter who learned that her 11th birthday party she was so excited for - that was scheduled for that afternoon, would have to be postponed as a result of the hospitalization.  Because of her learned flexibility, she took the disappointing news like a champ. After I hung up, however, I had another idea. . . 

To put into action the flip side to flexible. 

Because their lives have become accustomed to all of those elements of "adapting" -- which are disappointing, not fun, not fair and threaten to suck so much joy out of a child's life, they have become incredibly flexible in every way.  We have had to have a lot of flexibility this winter, so I decided that it was time to test that flexibility in a positive way.

While in the hospital with Bridger, anticipating discharge within an hour, I called home and told the kids that if they could pack themselves and help pack their younger siblings in 30 minutes, that I would drive them to Disney World that night. . . or towards Disney World that night, at least, which is 13 hours away.

That night -- the night when The Great Snowmageddon of 2016 was supposed to hit. There were winter weather warnings across the entire mid-atlantic region.  

I wasn't flexible in my timing.  We had to leave in 45 minutes to miss the storm and that required the kids packing while I finished up at the hospital.  I had calculated that if we left in 45 minutes, and drove as far and as fast as we could, that we could hit the southern tip of the storm at a semi-reasonable hour of the night.  We could beat the storm and stay the night in a hotel on the North/South Carolina border and continue our drive the next day under clear skies. 

I arrived home to see a flurry of packing activity.  It was a comical flurry -- it was. . .  um, what's a word to use here. . . intentional, though I wouldn't necessarily credit it as efficient or thorough, but it was their best effort so I went with it. When I had called home to make the announcement, they stopped dead in their tracks of whatever they were doing and threw together their best guess of what they thought they would need and had it loaded in the van. Lance had put together all of Bridger's special stuff needed for a road trip and we headed out for a late night adventure.

We grabbed some Little Caesar's Hot and Ready (not easy to eat in the car -- but one of the few things Bridger can eat on the road, so we are flexible).  Lance sat next to him and fed him bites as Sadie acted as the van waitress.  I watched my phone all the long night drive, following current estimates of when the snow was supposed to start falling and watching that southern tip of the storm on my tracker with the hopes that we could make it out of the advisory area.  Eva, despite being very tired, demonstrated her flexibility and stayed in the front seat, keeping me awake in the wee hours as we embarked on a very fun, however unexpected adventure. 

We settled into our hotel at 2:00am.  Groggy but elated.  We woke up to a van covered in ice, but only wet roads that allowed us to continue our southward trek.

I was filled with pride as I watched my little crew march into our hotel room that night and start the routines of setting up the special needs travel bed, jammy up the littles, potty the service dog, charge the electronics, refrigerating Bridger's meds. They would have rather just immediately crashed into a bed.  It was 2am.  They were tired.  They were flexible.  They kept doing what had to be done.

For every time they have to miss an event,

For every time they have to have their parents miss their event,

For every time their brother breaks something precious to them,

For every time they have to explain to their teacher that their brother ate their homework, again,

For every time they have to sit in the seat next to their brother and get smacked the entire car drive,

For every time they celebrate a holiday with their brother and mom in the hospital,

For every time they have to watch their brother's preferred cartoon,

For every time they have their hair pulled,

For every time they have the are forced to give up their sausage from their plate at Bob Evans to avoid a Bridger meltdown,

For every time their favorite toy becomes the object of Bridger's obsessions,

For every time they get screamed at point blank in their ear and have to breathe through it unfazed,

For every time they get their toes (painful) or heels (even more painful) run over by the wheelchair and have to keep walking,

For every time they have to "abort mission" and leave a fun destination because it is not accessible or their brother is having a meltdown,

For every time they have to wait for hours in the boring doctor's office for their brother's appointments,

For every time they are forced to be flexible. . . . .

There is a flip side to flexible.  They are flexible to join me on the journey to find joy and excitement in our adaptable life.

And I am grateful that their flexibility bends that was as well.