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Monthly Archives: March 2013

The Unsinkable Mom of an Aspie


On President’s Day I had the brilliant idea to take Bailey to the Franklin Institute to check out the science museum and Titanic exhibition. She is an explorer and absolutely loves museums. It was a holiday and from the time we walked in we were rubbing elbows with rest of Philadelphia. It was too late to turn back in my opinion. I have the “I’m in it to win it attitude.” Once I get some place I might as well stay and make the most of it. But I soon learned that a nice quiet day curled up with Bailey, a movie and popcorn would have produced a lot less tears for her and a lot less gray hairs for me.

We started with the Titanic exhibition. We were each given a “boarding pass” that represented a real passenger with tidbits of information about them printed on it. At the end of the exhibit we were to look on a posted list to find out if we survived. She was very excited be dog lover that had a Westminster show dog. I was excited that I was a 22-year-old actress, half her age. She asked many times throughout the exhibit if I thought we survived. She was very interested in all the artifacts and asked lots of questions. She was especially interested in the giant “iceberg” set up in the large room near the end of the exhibit. She stayed next to it for a very long time, putting her hand inside all of the handprints of the people before her, running her hand along the entire thing. When I managed to pull her away from the iceberg we made our way through the rest of the artifacts and we came upon a piece of iron in a glass case with two very small holes at the top allowing visitors to insert a finger touch it. It had to be the only thing in the entire exhibit we were allowed to touch. After I had my chance Bailey walked over behind me and I turned away just long enough to hear her gasp a loud “oh no!!” I turned around to see her face twisting into a panic and I followed her line of sight to see the hot pink ponytail holder that was seconds before wrapped around two of her fingers, but now was sitting pretty as you please next to the 100-year-old Titanic artifact. Knowing it was impossible before I even tried I quickly shoved my finger into the hole in a vain attempt to rescue the ponytail holder before anyone in the crowded room spotted it. Of course my finger was several inches too short and I had nothing on me that I could stick down in the case to grab it. As I feel my face getting a red with embarrassment it occurs to me how very quiet this crowd is in this big room because Bailey starts crying hysterically that she will never see it again and she loves it and a lot of other things I couldn’t make out. For a few seconds I considered high-tailing it out of the exhibit and just leaving it there, but I knew that would ruin the rest of her day and our museum visit would be done for. I glance around at all the eyes in the room shooting us looks as I try to calm her down and remind her that she has a dozen of the SAME EXACT ponytail holders at home, but it didn’t matter. She “loved THAT one” and “would never see it again” and “would never be happy again!” I was thankfully able to find a very nice museum employee close by who called for a tech to come help. After a looooooooooong 15 minutes of Bailey clinging to the artifact display in hysterics, me half wishing I could just hide behind the gigantic iceberg and half fixating on the fact that a few of my baby’s long light brown hairs may take up residence with this hunk of iron from THE Titanic, and a lot of sympathetic stares, three more museum employees showed up with their invisible capes to save the day. A quick swish of a screwdriver and the hot pink ponytail holder was rescued. I can’t say how grateful I was that they were so nice about everything. One guy even threw out a merciful “happens all the time” when I apologized.

Thankfully the rest of our museum visit was uneventful. As we were sitting in the IMAX theatre watching the Titanica film and Bailey is fixating on whether the teddy bear belonging to the survivor being interviewed made it off the ship safely, she turned to me and apologized for embarrassing me (progress!). Then I felt bad that I had even muttered “this is so embarrassing” knowing the turmoil she was in over the whole thing but then I felt proud because not only did she just recall that something she did earlier affected someone else, but she apologized way after the fact. Any instance where she looks outside of herself is a major step in the right direction, so I gave her a squeeze, said it was ok and I was sorry too.

Later we met up with my husband, Easton, to eat at a restaurant that had absolutely nothing on the menu that my child would let touch her limps, besides tostito chips and salt. But she was in a new place, it was colorful and we were in “adventure” mode so everything was fine until she knocked over her glass and it shattered into 50 pieces. Still, not a tragedy. We apologized, paid the bill and left.

But the icing on the day’s cake was when we were walking through probably the largest Macy’s store I’ve ever been in to get to the parking garage where our car was parked, and Bailey decided to pull one of her nerve-racking “bolting” moments that I’ve written about before, here. It’s partly my fault and I should’ve known better. I’m usually very good these days with my Bailey filter. You know, the one where I keep everything I know will set her off to myself. I carelessly made a remark, something to the tune of “wow, you’re a hot mess today! First the ponytail holder and then a broken glass…” Now, to the unsuspecting person it’s a harmless comment. But to Bailey I’ve delivered the biggest insult and might as well just have told her she is the worst person ever to walk to earth. That’s what she hears.  And when she’s mad she runs. That’s how she processes her anger. So off she goes ahead of us like a cheetah and I lose her as she runs past a large floor sign into a sea of cosmetic counters.

And she’s gone.

Let me remind you, this is the largest Macy’s I’ve ever been in and it’s also the first time I’ve been in this particular one and I have no idea where to look. She absolutely just disappeared. Easton ran down one way and I ran another, feeling panic that the store entrance is right on a busy street and we’re very close to the entrance. I’m panicking, asking this person and that person if they’ve seen a little girl run by. No one has seen her. I turn around and start in the direction Easton ran, looking in-between counter after counter until finally I spot his head above everything and I pray he has her. I reach him and he’s holding onto Bailey and his face looks a cross between furious and relieved.

Time to go home, I say, enough excitement for one day.

You know how you always say “we’ll look back and laugh on that”. Well I’m there with regards to the ponytail holder incident and the broken glass is definitely small potatoes. But when I let myself think for a moment about how Bailey runs away without a thought of anything other than to just run, I get that panic in my chest all over again.

As I sat down on the floor of the living room later that night with my frayed nerves, I felt like I had actually been fighting my way to a lifeboat in a sinking ship, I just thanked God that she was home safe with me. It may have been a tough day but we got through it.

And in case you were wondering, my 22-year-old actress and her 41-year-old dog lover both survived the sinking of the Titanic. 🙂