Adventures in Autistic Parenthood

Friday, April 29, 2011

Semi-Sporting News:

15 minutes before the supposed starting time

It's once again the last Friday in April. Which means... it's way too late to exchange any of my Birthday presents. It's also the time we look forward to all year. Special Olympics Track and Fiend.. uh.. Field Day. This year, in an effort to negate the last 6 years in a row, I resolved to be there on time. So Dave and I woke up (which he was okay with) got dressed (not so much) and hit the road (even less enthused) almost an hour earlier than normal (for us). We even had time to stop and ready our sinews for battle with nourishment. (Sausage, egg and cheese McGriddles) And in an absolute fit of good luck I actually drove us to the right High School on the first try. We arrived at Western Beaver High (sounds like a large rodent on crack) and knew we were at the right place because this time there were parking attendants. They asked a dizzying array of questions (2) for someone who's McCoffee hadn't kicked in yet, but eventually we were parked very close to the building and proceeded directly to the field. Only to find there was no one in the stands. I was momentarilly confused. After all, there were parking attendants this time. And the event signs where all there And several School Busses dropping buddy-kids off, (who immediately retreated into the gym). Then I rounded the corner of the snack-barn and saw where all the people were. Lining up for coffee, and cocoa and other warm things. The windows were also sheltered from the wind and had an overhang to ward off the rain. So, paranoia appeased, we were at least fairly certain we were in the right place.

The first event.... as soon as anyone shows up
  It had been raining in the Pittsburgh area almost every day for 2 weeks. But Thursday had been almost cloud free, sunny and fairly warm. It was a tease. Friday morning dawned in the sense that it was no longer night, but that was the only clue that there was such a thing as a Sun, and it might still be spinning up there somewhere above the clouds. It was also about 38 degrees and sprinkling rain. At least it would have been called a sprinkle if it wasn't being driven by a 40 mile an hour wind. So naturally, the first time Dave and I are early and in the right place, it's the crappiest day on record and everyone else was late. And I don't mean just a little late, I mean almost the exact amount of time Dude and I have been late to all of these things. There's probably some sort of psychic-karma-payback thing going on there, but I didn't want to examine it too closely. . Of course, considering the sub-Arctic conditions we were lucky the stadium was perched on the top of the only completely tree-free hill in the area. Or in Pittsburgh, as far as I know. That way the wind had untrammelled access to our delicate parts. Dave and I stayed next to the buildings to cut the wind until everyone had assembled in the stands and somehow Mrs. Yarosz found us wandering around again, I swear that woman has Dude-radar, which I'm sure comes in handy considering how closely you have to watch him most of the time. So, we were badged and aknowledged and pretty much frozen, but ready to go.
   I watch a lot of Hockey, and I've played some, and hockey players are generally some of the most superstitious people around seeing 'omens' everywhere. Dave and I showing up early started to look more and more like the first in a series of bad 'sports-omens'. Naturally, just having a crappy day wasn't enough, the PA guy was having problems with his equipment, so all of his early announcements sounded like bad cell-phone calls. The pre-recorded National Anthem ended up sounding like a kid intermittently hitting the FF button on the remote,(or for us older folks, like someone was pounding on the turn-table). And the S-O oath, which everyone is supposed to repeat after the chosen athlete recites it into the microphone, was missing about half its content and kind of wandered off and died somewhere towards the end. I'm almost ready to bet that the Prayer was intoned in Swahili, because the only word anyone understood was 'Amen'. And just after everyone repeated 'Amen' ('cause, that's what you do) the rain and wind caused the Olympic Torch to go out. But, not to be deterred by all of these bad athletic omens, the games where kicked off.
    Dave is now in the 16+ group (I know, it freaks me out too) and that means adjustments. This does change some of the people he competes against, which allowed me to meet a whole new group of kids. Jeremy was still in Dude's group, calling us 'The two Daveys' so there were still some familiar faces, but several new ones or guys we hadn't seen in a while. Mostly, though, it has to do with the order in which he competes in his events, they were completely reversed. This could have gotten me totally unstuck, but this year I actually read all of the notes about S-O that were sent to me. It's amazing what you can learn that way.

   So, this year we dealt with the Soft Ball Toss Lady's 'organization' first, instead of right after lunch, and it seemed to go much smoother that way. Or my expectations of her event have been completely zeroed out, one of the two. Despite the biting wind and spits of rain everyone's attitude was pretty good, although the 3 (male) students assisting the SBT did completely miss when the competition actually started. But even though it was pretty obvious they were there for self-display purposes only, one of the adult assistants brought them around pretty quickly to doing their jobs. Dude placed 4th against some larger students, which I thought was pretty good, considering he was wearing a hoodie underneath a raincoat and with his ridiculously hambone wind-up. Normally, once we finish an event we would typically wander around, checking out the other events, allowing people to see the 'Rock Star' in their midst that is Dude, that sort of thing. Not this year. After a few very brief minutes of walking around Dave's all-weather outdoor father decided he'd had enough fresh air for a while and retreated back to the vehicle (call me a wuss, I don't care).

Dude and Jeremy recieving their accolades

    Most of the time I'm pretty well prepared to divert David during the lulls in whatever we happen to be doing. I either have a book, or an MP3 player to give him something to do while we're waiting around. But I don't usually need that at Special Olympics so I was stuck. The only thing I had in the car for him to look at was a Rand MacNally road atlas. For some strange reason or another that worked. He was fascinated by the different states, trying to pronounce some of the city names and gazing longingly (for some reason) at the map of Upstate New York. I pointed out where my mother was born (Niskayuna) and where Niagara and Lake Champlain were and he seemed pretty impressed. So impressed, in fact that he started bugging me about 'Going to New York' for the next 15 minutes.

   Soon, however it was time to brave the ice and snow (ok, wind and rain) and get back to the competition. It was just after 11:00 when we were once again huddled in the leeward side of a U-Haul truck when the spitting rain turned to actual rain. But the wind didn't change. And until then we just thought we knew what miserable was. There were 4 student-buddies huddled together bent over a table, umbrella turned to the wind speaking longingly and loudly about the hot showers they'd be taking when they got home. I was seriously thinking about ditching the whole thing when the PA guy got on and made the announcements that: The busses for the (obviously) wussie Brighton School had arrived and were ready for boarding. The events would attempt to continue, but that any parent that took their child home should inform the teacher before leaving, and that there would be a summit at noon at the announcer's tent. I assumed to decide whether to continue or cancel the rest of the events.

Ok, all you guys need to be on the line

   Just moments after this announcement was made a section of clouds came overhead and revealed that they were actually thin enough to expose that Sun-thing. The rain stopped, the sky turned blue-ish and the temperature raised about 10 degrees. It was either a reward for correct thinking, a break to give everyone enough hope to continue on, or yet another weather-tease. Dave decided during this time that if he were a good boy I'd have to take him to New York. I told him that he'd have to be the goodest boy on record, and also slip me the winning numbers to the Powerball.
   In any case it was time for the 50 meter run. Last year David had some interesting interpretation of sportsmanship during his run, arm-barring his next closest opponent to finish first. So I was kind of curious as to what he would do this year.

And they say 'cheaters never prosper'

   As they lined up to start the race, Dave looked down the row to make sure that everyone was correctly behind the line. He wasn't helping the starters or anything, it turned out he was checking so that he could cheat more easily. As the starter raised her hand to start the race Dude started shuffling forward, slowly and carefully. By the time the race was officially started he was about 3 feet in front of everyone else. He was so caught up in gaining the advantage that when the 'Go' was sounded it startled him into pausing and losing it, but he took off like a rocket. He hardly needed the extra help. Halfway through the race he was 15 or so feet ahead with an 'I'm such a good cheater' grin on his face. And by the end of the race he'd smoked the other guys by 20 or so feet and, once again ran around after the finish line looking for his medal. Once the
At least one of these 'Wranglers' is named Bob
but I have no idea which one.
gold was adorning the correct chest it was time to head over to the Standing Long Jump and the the two 'Kid Wranglers', who were back in charge of organizing things at the SLJ.
   I have to say that there was one benefit to the inclement weather. There was no dilly-dallying about any of the events. The 'buddies' were hustling the kids around the field and the events people were running the kids through like cattle at an auction. I'm almost certain that's the reason, and not David's 'Superstar' status, that as soon as we showed up to the SLJ 15 minutes early this year, instead of 45 minutes late like last year, that Jenny (I'm almost certain that's her name) and Ashley (who have both had Dave in their classrooms) immediately went over to the Wranglers and told them Dave was there for his heat. The guys instantly went through their paperwork looking for his name, but looked puzzled when they couldn't find it until I told them we were actually early this year. But Dude's heat was the first one they ran. Maybe he's a 'Superstar' after all?

Ashley's 'Put me in the Blog' pose

    While we were waiting for the Jumping to commence the adults all kind of gathered around and started the babbling that just wasn't pleasant (or possible) during the colder, rainier part of the day. I had my camera out, snapping a few random shots, when Ashley kind of dashed in front of me and jokingly posed and demanding, 'Take my picture and Post it in the Blog!' I laughed and facetiously protested, 'Again?' Then, not even noticing that I'd already taken her picture, she started telling me about how she loved reading the Blog, and she even made her mother read it! I was too flattered for words (Yeah, I know, who'd a thunk it?). Perhaps Dude isn't the only Superstar in the family? Then I realized that the Blog is about Dude, so basically I'm just writing about a Superstar....

And he sticks the landing!

  Dave was all business about the 50 meter run, but seems to take the other two events he does a little less seriously. He has these ridiculously ham-bone wind ups for each event that they're almost events in themselves. For the SLJ he squats very low, with his arms thrust out behind him. Then he comes up on his toes and thrusts his arms out to the side, then he sort of bounces on his toes for a second, swinging his arms back and forth underhanded. Then starts the whole thing over again. He does this two or three times (or until I tell him to quit fooling around) then he finally jumps, covering a distance of about 3-4 feet. If style points were awarded he'd even get a '10' from the Russian judge. All of that goofing around must have been effective, though. Because he took 1st place. After receiving the righteous acclaim of the victorious Dude decided it was time to get Wendy's, go home and get ready for our New York trip. I agreed with the home and lunch part of the equation, but since I hadn't as of yet been given the Powerball numbers the New York thing would have to wait. So now the medals are on the shelf (along with any Empire State plans) waiting for next year's crop to join them. Dude is, I think, waiting for Nike to call with a sponsorship offer, and Raine has come up with a clever idea to get out of taking David to New York. We just need to find someone's address in NY, a box big enough to fit Dude in, and a LOT of stamps....

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