Easter Sunday. It's all about chocolate bunnies and little speckled eggs, and little girls in starchy white gloves, squeaky clean little boys in ties and stiff collared shirts...so cute. So freakin cute. I watched my brother in law painstakingly put bunny footprints in flour and nibble some teeth marks into a bowl of carrots, while he put hot wheels and Reese's rabbits into the boys' baskets, and grandma adding plush bunnies, flashlights and jellybeans. Easter is my in laws holiday. Complete with cousins, pickle trays, greenbean casserole, and a hidden candy hunt in the yard at the farm. I wonder if everyone knows why I am sullen with sunken eyes slugging down my third glass of wine. Maybe its because my nightmares about the pond we tossed rocks into yesterday kept me up until two. Or that Elliott woke me up by shoving an orange jellybean in my mouth, his melodic little voice, "Try it mommy! They're yummy!" No that's not it. Its the fact that this year I have Chandler for Easter. Chandler is improving with holidays. No more screaming at every irritation. Less meal stress now that I care less that he eats a bun, and some cereal for Easter dinner., and he comes around more. But he's anxious, and he paces. Which makes me anxious, and pacey. With 15 adults and 10 kids, and two doors opening and shutting over and over, my breath catches each time I hear a slam. I peek out the window, race downstairs to the guest room where he watches his DVDs he brings along, run out the back door to the edge of the fence to the pasture. This time he is in the middle of the sandbox letting the grains of sand slip between his fingers. Everyone says, "He's fine." They don't always think, maybe I'm not fine. This Easter I'm not fine.
By three I've had all I can stand, I hold my composure until all the bags are in the car, and my tears flow in streams before we hit the mailbox. My husband gets it, so mostly he's quiet. When we reach my parents' house , I relax slightly. He knows everyone here, and I have more eyes on him. I sit in the lazy boy and hold my nephew who I call "Squishie" because he is a 6 month old chubby bunny with no wrists. He giggles and attacks his monkey lovie. Two times I yell at Chandler out the patio screen to get back in here! My dad blocks the downstairs door. We have leftover ham and lemon dessert. I look up suddenly to see two little blonde heads running across the field. OMG. I hand off Squishie like an MVP at the superbowl and take off in bare feet and by the time I am halfway across the yard, my nephew Noah is dragging Chandler by the sleeve. Noah is crying. "Auntie, he ran away!" I can't even tell him I am proud and glad, instead I am yelling at Chandler "NO! We do NOT run into the field!" He looks confused and says NO! back. My tears are stinging my eyes, but not falling. I am done. Exhausted. I tell my parents we are leaving and Chandler says "I...want...car.." I hesitate for a minute, and then I put him in the convertible along with Noah and his little brother Ethan who is my 4 year old nephew that is serious and quiet, like an old soul in a tiny body. With the top down and radio up, we cruise around the block. I watch the boys in the rearview mirror strapped into the backseat, Noah's head buried in a Pokemon game, and Chandler grinning and feeling the air with his hands. How can I keep you safe? Why don't you know your limits? I'm so angry with you, but your smile melts my heart... Ethan breaks my thoughts with "Auntie. I'm cold, can we put the top up?" To which I say, "No, Ethan, its cool to have the top down." "Auntie", he says, "Does this car have air bags?" I shake my head and laugh, "I dunno." "Well, you should be wearing your seatbelt", he admonishes me with his lips pursing, and his brow furrowing into a frown. The sun is going down, on another holiday in the autism trenches, but we're going out in style with the top down.