Deep breath. Okay, I... we made it. I am blogging from California right now where I haven't visited since I was 15. And that time it was a redwood forest in Northern Cali, not the Junipers, and flowering plants all over the desert landscape, its beautiful here. The campus is large and airy with a great room that has a huge selection of movies, a giant coffee maker, and even a wii for the boys to play when they wish. It's like a big house with lots of rooms, just flat...now that I have put away our weekly groceries, Chandler is breathing in and out in a deep sleep next to me in bed.
Rewind to last night....I didn't want to make today a bigger production that I knew it would be, so we drove to Minneapolis and stayed in Chandler's favorite hotel. He was in heaven jumping around the zebra fountain and piling up bubbles in the hot tub. Three times I had to dive into the cold water when I thought he was getting too deep, but then an amazing thing happened. As I jumped in the third time I could see he was treading water. Really treading water and holding his head all the way above the surface. He was making a frantic noise but he KNEW this time. Don't let your face go down! He grabbed my wrist and hugged me tightly but he was smiling. Smart boy. You're just practicing! Enough with the anxiety so I pulled him over to the hottub. He sat by me, again piling up the bubbles, and I could see a little boy about four watching him with these dark curls and huge eyes. He turned his head to the side and said "Why doesn't he talk?" I explained to him the best I could about autism, but at four they have a different understanding. He nodded and said "So he doesn't say I love you?" My eyes filled with tears, but I still smiled because this boy was so adorable. "He does sometimes," I said. I got Chandler to say hi to him and he promptly sat down in front of him like a little instructor, "Chandler?, he inquired seriously, "Can you say nose?" and Chandler began to softly copy a few commands before wandering off to the splash pool. "My name is Jalen, " he said "and I can do my name in letters too!", and he drew them in mid air. He was so very interested in Chandler and why he was the way he was. Moments like this make life brighter.
After some very tearful good byes, getting on the plane was suspiciously easy, even security. New TSA rules allow small children to keep their shoes on, but Chandler chose to take his off. We sat on the floor and ate pop tarts and chips. He peered down the tunnel to the airplane door with a scrunched up face. Luke and I pushed him along, and he began to get upset as I buckled the seatbelt. He calmed to almost "normal" and watched several planes pull away from their gates. He smiled and relaxed. Sigh. Then OUR plane taxied down the runway...his eyes got huge when we started the ascent, and it was like he was asking me why the ground was getting so far away, and he did NOT like it one bit. After a few minutes of tears and some terribly constant stimming, and refusing to even look at the headphones I tried to give him, or the games I had on the IPAD, he put his sweaty little head with flushed cheeks down on my shoulder and fell asleep. He woke up long enough to push away the complimentary soda. Once he realized he could pull the window shade down, he did, and when I heard the captain announce we were over the mountains, the grand canyon, and other landmark beauties, I tried to open it enough to steal a glance. "NO! he yelled, and slammed it down. I almost giggled, but I said "Okay, Chandler, okay." Once we landed in San Diego, he cried, less furiously this time, and then galloped out of the tunnel to solid ground.