We have been talking quite a bit lately about choices in our house. Our 7 year-old son, with Asperger’s, is finally starting to learn about how the choices we make affect the outcome in a situation. Some choices are so ingrained in us they are almost involuntary, reaching for the remote the minute you sit on the couch or pushing the button on the coffee maker before your eyes are really even open.
We are talking about how to slow down and consciously make a good choice. My son knows if he screams at Mommy or pushes me it will not end well. He may lose time on the television, computer or the privilege to go somewhere special. I know how hard it is for him to make choices. He is very impulsive and we are trying to teach him that when you make good choices you have good things come into your life and when you make not so nice choices not so nice things come into your life.
So. How do I help him make good choices? Patience and calmness. I need to be able to navigate the waters with him to know where the sharks lie and help him avoid the pitfalls. Most days I can swim right with him in the deep water but sometimes I am too tired and worn out to even wade in myself. But, I have to figure out how to go on because without my guidance he will drown but with my guidance one day he will swim free. I need to slow down and breathe.
We have started a marble jar as a reminder to him of all the good choices he has made. When the small jar is filled he can choose a special outing with the parent of his choice. When he moans that he can’t make a good choice we have him look at the jar and remember the good choices he has already made and he can do it. Maybe this Mommy needs a marble jar too to see that I can go on and I am making progress.
So how does this all fit into Disney? We all make choices everyday. Disney was the first place I ever saw a mob mentality up close. People were pushing by us to get into a show for fear of not getting a seat or having a poor view. As one woman’s husband grabbed her hand and said, “We need to hurry. Run.” she looked at him and said, “No.” We looked at her and said, “They let you in. There will be a seat for you.There is never really a bad seat.” She walked right next to us the rest of the way and there were plenty of seats for everyone, the people that had pushed us and the people who walked calmly and nicely. We were all in the same show and we all saw the same thing.
It is our mantra at Disney now “Let the crowds go by and stay back.” We take the twenty minutes to watch the gorillas play and chase each other up and down the banks. We see the characters do little cute things when they think no one else is really looking. We hear the last joke at “The Country Bear Jamboree.” We see things that other people have rushed by a million times or think are not worthwhile or a waste of their time on because they have never really truly stopped to experience the attraction, show or path fully.
Slow down, look around and breathe. There is beauty in the details and a new experience around every corner.