Admittedly, there can be stress when you ultimately want to relax on your vacation. Seemingly commonplace to some, the idea of eating in a new restaurant every day, swimming in a pool with teacups of overflowing water, and sleeping in a new bed are actually terrifying for a child on the spectrum.
A big part of me struggles each day to keep the day-to-day the same. Keep the routine. Simple. Yet, as we all understand, life is really found in the peeks of sunlight shining through your window, the smell of cotton candy, the sound of an orchestra dancing with fireworks in the sky, and watching your child live a moment that helps them to grow.
After four days into our six-day vacation, my son finally felt the water gush from the teacups that situated themselves in the Alice in Wonderland themed water park. On day one, we went directly to the pool and cannon-balled into the water, slithered around like dolphin, and watched a mama duck float in the chorine-blue water. On day two, we did the same thing. Day three was a similar experience.
All three days included small pep-talks by loved ones to think about the other pool – the one with the teacups gushing water. To think about how fun it might be to run through those streams of water. Each day, the discussion around water and the pool included visiting this other water experience. All three days included walking by the teacups and just watching the water. All three days.
On the fourth day, when I went a rare outing with my sister, my son found his courage to play in the pool with the teacups. The experience for him not only left him exhilarated and exhausted, but it helped him to grow just a little bit more. He learned that by examining and studying the pool with teacups that he could understand it. When he talked with me about the teacups, he shared that it takes about 2-minutes for the teacups to fill, before bellowing over with water and swelling the play area below. He understood that the water slide was designed in a way to slow-down at the bottom, creating a safe landing for playing, wet bodies. My son took the time to understand what the pool with teacups might be like before he experienced it.
For some, this is very frustrating. The spontaneity and unknown of travel is often found in the beauty of the memories experienced. However, this experience showed my son that he could take risks and try something new. Perhaps, he is moving one step closer to his version of spontaneity. For now, there is so much joy in watching him experience something like water cascading from giant teacups. His smile. His squeal. His exuberant energy.