Thursday, December 1, 2011

eastbound and down

Our "support network" is a little different, I think, than many families.  I'm a transplant to Utah.  I came out here back in 1991, having accepted admission to grad school without ever having visited the state.  That's a story in itself, but it didn't take long for me to fall in love with this place.  My kinfolk are mostly back in Tennessee.  My niece moved here last year and that has been awesome.

My wife grew up here.  We lived in North Carolina for a while, but both were thrilled to move back here when she got out of law school.  Her family all moved away about the time we returned (just a coincidence).  Many of her friends left Utah to explore the world, but a few have come back and we're very thankful for them.

Even though we don't get to see my folks that often, they are tremendously important to us.  They help every way they can.  For instance, a year or so ago, my dad said they weren't that happy with their current vehicle and if I was interested, I could have it.  I said I'd think about it (the last vehicle they gave us was still going strong), and put it out of my head for a while.  After a while, little things started going wrong with our car that were minor, but very expensive to fix -- like when the power seat was stuck in a forward position (I'm 6'3" and that sucked) -- $800 fix.

Back in August, I called them up and said, "Hey, is that offer to pass on your car to us still good?"   There was a bit of a pause, but Ma and Pa didn't hesitate much.  I suspect some of it was them thinking "we'll need to put new tires on it first", 'cause they're those kind of folks.  With that, a plan was born for me to fly out with the boys just before school started and drive back with the Highlander.

Traveling with Ben is always an adventure.  This time, I decided on the direct flight to Nashville.  The upside was that we had a short overall travel time and fewer takeoffs and landings.  Ben isn't scared one bit of flying.  He kind of likes it, I think.  What he HATES is what happens when the seatbelt light comes on.  He's fine with his car seat in the car, but put him on a plane and tell him he has to sit still with a seatbelt on, and he freaks.   Not all the time, but enough that we went for the direct flight.

The downside of the direct flight was that there was only one, leaving around 5:00.  Schedules can be pretty important to ASD kids.  If Ben needs to be flexible, morning is the best time.  He gets more fragile as the day goes on.  By 3:00, I'm monitoring him to see if he needs to nap (which means bouncing him across my knees).  There's snacking to be done, and often a walkabout is called for.  A 5:00 flight means getting to the airport by 4:00 (thank Zeus for the family line at security).  Salt Lake is small enough that from our house east of downtown, we can get to the airport (west of downtown) within 20 minutes.  Given that we needed to put a car seat in the cab, I called Yellow Cab a day in advance to pick us up at 3:30.

The big day came.  We'd talked about our plans in advance.  Our bags were packed, everything was copacetic.  We watched out the window for the cab.  And watched.  Until 3:45.  The cab company called...they were on their way.  yay.  They did show up, we hurried.  No freakouts.  Ben sometimes retreats when things are weird.  That's useful at the time,  but it's just a build-up for later.   We rush through the airport, security is easy.  We get to the gate...hey, we don't have seat assignments, can you help us?  Delta is pretty awesome, and we get situated.  Ah, Ben is poopy.  Fix it.  Time to board...NOW!

a couple of days later
Yay!  We're on the plane.  We're right behind first class.  We're in an emergency row, but the flight crew is being cool about it.  Ben starts yarging on the divider between us and first class (this was before the Occupy movement), but is generally happy.  There's only a small delay, and I buckle him in for take-off, distracting him with snacks.  The seat belt is horrible for him.  He sooo wants to move.  Eventually, we get to a place where he can get his tray table out.  It's one of those "fold up in the armrest" ones.  You know...dangerous and loud.  He spends the next couple of hours ricocheting around his 5 cubic feet and manipulating the tray table.  All in all, it's not the worst flight I've been on with him, but I'm pretty sure the first class passengers right in front of us were having a hard time enjoying their wine and warm facecloths.

It's time to land...the seat belt light comes on.  Ok, get ready for some hollering.  It's bad, he doesn't like it.  We do it anyway.  No, don't play with your tray table.  WHAM.  uh oh.  Ben has caught his pinky in the tray table.  This is not good.  The last half hour of our flight is accompanied by wails of pain.

We stagger off the plane and collect our bags.  Fortunately, Bubba is an awesome kid who is easily bribed.  He (who would love to ride the baggage carousel like his dear old Pa once did) keeps Ben out of trouble while I collect bags.  We head out and meet up with my sister.  After car seat wrestling match, we're on the road.

crikeys, i'm tired.  i'm gonna be a newbie blogger and hit publish.  more to come.

Tip o the day:

If you're a stay-at-home parent, podcasts are an awesome way to hear grown-up conversation and still get things like housework done.  The Morning Stream has helped me get through many days.   I just started listening to this one about special needs.

Bonus tip o the day:

We've had good and bad plane trips.  The best one I remember was one where I spent the whole trip engaged with Ben.  I stayed in contact with him the whole time, and had a vibrating toy that I kept zapping him with.  I think it was a Bumble Ball .  It was exhausting, but there were no meltdowns...he was in such a good mood that he even tolerated the seat belt.


  1. Brian at Both Sides of the Coin mentioned you in his blog. Precious few male parent-bloggers around these parts. . .

  2. 8) I'm usually the only dude at the parent association meetings. Can't wait to read ! Off to do errands now.

  3. Hey - Can girls join in the fun or is this like a man-cave or something??

  4. It's more like a treehouse, but everybody's welcome. ;^) I'm just happy to get out of the Fortress of Solitude.


No bots, please.