Part 1: Before You Go
A couple of months back Laurie went to Chicago for a meeting. She came back all excited about the city and determined that we should go there soon and play tourist.
We had been to Chicago once before. Once. It was many years ago when Andrew was young and autism was something we were still getting used to. We went to see Sue the T-Rex at the Field Museum and that went well. In fact, the trip went well for the most part until it didn’t. We never returned.
But that was many years ago and many travels since. Still, vacationing with autism is never really vacationing — or rather, it’s never really relaxing. You are constantly on your guard for when things are going to go bad. Most of the time things never go bad, but you don’t know that in advance, and I am The Worrier King, so I’m always expecting the worst. This can be a real drain on your fun.
So, I start thinking that wouldn’t it be nice to go on a long weekend trip without autism. What would that be like? I can’t remember. Oh sure, like all young parents in the beginning we had no trouble dropping the boy off with Nana when we wanted to travel. But unlike other parents, our child never got old enough to take care of himself while Nana eventually reached the point where she couldn’t watch him anymore. So we haven’t vacationed without autism in years.
Plus, Chicago is expensive. Nothing is free and nothing is cheap. Why spend an extra $$$ for museum admission for someone who doesn’t care? What would it be like to go to a restaurant and not worry about if they serve chicken strips?
I decided we were going to make this trip without Andrew. But how? Can’t leave him at a kennel for 3 days. Can’t ask the neighbors to come over twice a day and feed him. No, this would require finding someone willing to come to the house and stay for a few days with no strings attached.
It wasn’t always easy living with Sister2. Sister1 was caring, looked after baby brother, bought him his first X-Man comic. Sister2 and I fought over everything — control of the TV (when Dad wasn’t around), who got the most Coke (we had to share a bottle in those days), we fought over e v e r y t h i n g.
But then Cindy went off to college and came back a changed person. She was all about family. There is nothing she will not do for her family. There is not a niece or nephew she will not spoil rotten.
She was the perfect patsy. I mean, the perfect person to come spend quality time with Andrew.
I dropped her an email and she agreed immediately and enthusiastically. I don’t know that she consulted first with husband Chuck, but it probably wouldn’t have mattered. He would be a good sport about it, as is the way with the men in our family.
Laurie was shocked and upset that I would ask such a thing of my sister, but she got over it pretty quick and was soon making all kinds of plans for our big weekend.
Coming Up: Be careful what you wish for