My husband and my 9 year old leave in two days to go on vacation, and I haven’t packed a thing. Well, that’s not really true.
I threw some sheets and towels in a bin since they have to take their own linens. I’ll be joining them a few days later, so I’m packing for myself too.
It’s so different when Conor goes with us.
By this time last year, I had three lists taped to the refrigerator (itemized and categorized by what bag or cooler the item went in), visited Target at least twice, the pharmacy three times, and had already started putting clothes and beach items into bags and suitcases.
Hell, half the time I ship a box of nonperishable foods ahead of time when I am unsure if the local grocery store carries them. I’m not going anywhere without Quaker Lightly Salted rice cakes.
One year, I was explaining to a close friend’s husband about my frenetic, hyper kinetic packing. I complained about the god-awful amount of items we took each year. (Ok, ok, I was whining pathetically. They’re really good friends.)
He looked puzzled and suggested that since we were going to the beach that I pack two pairs of shorts for each of the boys, two t shirts, a pair of underwear, a bathing suit, a towel, and whatever else I forgot I could just purchase when we got there.
I just gaped at him.
I have a kid with autism, the price of forgetting a treasured item (or, Mon Dieu, a medication) is so high that, if I could afford it, I would move my entire household of items to the beach house for the week.
If Conor’s obsessed with the kitchen sink, by god, I would move the kitchen sink. I want vacation to be at least a little bit enjoyable for us.
I tried to explain this to Tim, and he said he understood. But as he walked away, I could tell that he didn’t really get it. And I couldn’t blame him. It sounds utterly mad, truly insane.
But it’s what we live with each and every day.
One year, when Conor was much younger, we flew to Florida for Spring Break. This was a big deal for us. Airplane ride, new city, new resort, no idea what to expect.
The morning we were flying out, Conor discovered a pretty blue marble. So cool, don’t you think? Smooth, round, feels good in your hand, it’s a sphere! Conor hung on to that marble through the ride to the airport, through security, while we waited to board the plane (step right up to the front of the line, thank you, my child has a disability, trust me it’s in your best interest), and we found our seats.
Being the overwrought mom that I am, I suggested that my husband take Conor to the bathroom on the airplane before we took off. Of course, Conor took the marble with him. Why wouldn’t you, when it’s the MOST AWESOME THING you have EVER SEEN?
I could tell something went wrong by the look on my husband’s face when they came back. I was sitting a row behind them because Aidan was still in a car seat and you CAN’T have a CAR SEAT anywhere but next to the WINDOW. Because you might CRASH and then you CAN’T GET BY the CAR SEAT as you run SCREAMING down the aisle. (Like that’s what I’m going to be worried about if the plane crashes. This was pre-Sully Pilot Hero, though.)
The marble went into the toilet, my husband reported. And he isn’t sticking his hand down THERE. (No, I would think not, I readily agreed. Good decision.)
Well, the tantrum that ensued over losing that blue marble was monumental. This blew my mind. Conor hadn’t even known the marble EXISTED before that morning, but losing it was it was like losing his best friend.
And WOW, the other passengers were SO understanding and compassionate. (I’m being sarcastic here.) I suggested to Jim that we leave the plane, but this was post 9/11 and our bags were already checked. Getting off meant delaying the plane and then the other passengers would REALLY like us.
Fortunately, my husband was able to calm Conor down and we took off with no delays. The vacation was a blur, but I think we had a moderately successful vacation. All things considered.
And so here I am. Drifting around without the usual stresses of forgetting a special something. If Aidan forgets to pack his DS or his iTouch, that’s his problem, not mine. (Smile.)
That reminds me, I have to pack at least one bottle of Pinot Noir so I don’t have to go the liquor store when I get there.
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