"We want to see the pirates."
A couple of weeks ago, Calder went to Hilton Head, South Carolina with our dad and grandfather. It was meant to be a happy, go-lucky guy's trip. Calder was promised long car rides to listen to his books, Mexican food every night, and a pool-sized jacuzzi hot tub to unwind at the end of the day. However, he would soon realize that the trip was not all he had hoped...
I guess the first night went okay (according to Calder). He got tacos for lunch and at dinner, he got to eat at a Pirate-themed restaurant. The menu came with die-cut pirate costume items, so Calder was able to dress as a pirate, get a giant pirate mug, and eat delicious seafood. Ahoy! And he did enjoy a nice long swim in a giant jacuzzi tub. My dad and grandfather tucked him into bed that night and sat out in the living room talking about their favorite topic that no one else ever wants to listen to - politics. And as usual, they got so caught up that they didn't notice that Calder had woken up and WALKED OUT of the condo!
That's right. Around 10:00 pm when they finally wrapped up their politico chat, they went to the hallway and noticed the front door was open and when they rushed to check the bedroom, Calder was missing! They raced out of the building, talked to the front desk, and called the police. They used flashlights to search the dark grounds of the complex, which was not only next to the ocean but also had several ponds filled with . . . alligators.
Needless to say, the one person my dad didn't call during this crisis was my mom. She would have reached right through the phone and strangled him. Speaking of his phone, my dad realized he had left it at the condo and ran back to get it. On his way, he passed the elevators to the unit. Standing in front of the elevator, patiently waiting for the doors to open, was Calder. Everyone was relieved. My dad was a little angry at Calder for walking off without an adult. But he tucked him back into bed and thought the rest of the trip would go smoothly.
It didn't. The next night, when my dad checked on Calder, his tongue had swollen and Calder was struggling to breathe. So my dad and grandfather had to bundle him up and rushed him to urgent care. They thought he was having an allergic reaction (later when Calder came home, he typed with my mom he'd fallen out of the bed and bit his tongue really hard). After an intense visit to urgent care and a stop at the pharmacy, they returned to the condo at dawn and Calder happily went to sleep.
When Calder returned home at the end of the trip, he gave us all a big hug and went straight to the bedroom, where he closed the door on my dad and grandfather. He was a little mad at them because he did not enjoy the trip as much as he had hoped. But I felt really bad for my dad and grandfather because they had been hoping for a fun, relaxing, three-generations of men, bonding trip. And instead, they had a scary and stressful time.
The thing is, not every trip will go well, especially when you're dealing with the chaos of autism. But that doesn't mean you don't take more trips. It just means you have to accept that you'll have some great moments and some not-great moments. So while there were plenty of not-great moments in South Carolina, Calder is still asking to go back, especially because he wants to visit the pirate restaurant and get another pirate hat. So my family will take him, though my mom has set down some firm rules for my dad and grandfather when they go again.