Brad and I love seafood, but we hadn't gotten to eat at Joe's since I was pregnant with Korban. I remember it really well because we went to a youth pastor's conference in Nashville and just had the best time.
I was only about five months pregnant, but had had an eventful pregnancy with some real scares and we were really glad to get that time away with each other. We decided to eat at Joe's Crab Shack one night, and I mean we absolutely tore it up. It was so good, and I was at that ravenous point in my pregnancy. Ok, fine. I STAYED at that ravenous point in my pregnancy once the nausea passed and it only got worse once I actually gave birth and started nursing said baby. But that's neither here nor there. The point is, I ate a lot of good food. And then we had to walk back to our hotel! Which wouldn't have been such an issue if I wasn't you know, fat and pregnant. To make matters worse, Brad was telling me some really funny story (which I can't remember for the life of me now) and I was laughing so hard I literally couldn't walk and had to sit down on the curb. Brad sat down with me and we just sat there on this curb, full of seafood, laughing so hard we were crying with all these people walking by staring at us. Such a fun memory.
That was literally the only other time we had eaten at Joe's, so we were really excited to go back. We knew they had autism awareness t-shirts and we were so excited about that, we wound up going straight to the gift shop. We chatted with the employee working in there while we shopped and he was very nice and helpful. He was friendly and really good with Korban. He even talked football with him! Korban liked him a lot and it really meant a lot to me that this guy took time with Korban and complimented him on what a good kid he was.
They had a nice playground outside and it felt really good out, so we requested to eat at the picnic tables by the playground. Just being outside soothed my going-out-to-eat anxiety. Korban loves to go out and eat (bless him, he likes to eat, period.). He tries hard but going out isn't always easy.
One time at Olive Garden in Memphis, he got mad and threw a breadstick. It landed in the plate of one of the people sitting next to us. Awkward much? We apologized (a lot) and explained. That was a time when Brad had made some autism business type cards explaining the issues and would hand them out when issues arose. They were very gracious and just laughed it off once they got over the shock of an airborne carbohydrate projectile landing in their pasta.
Another time he got ahold of my hair so bad in a restaurant with both hands that my friend had to pull him off of me. This really freaked out the ladies eating next to us. I can imagine it was a pretty strange sight.
He's screamed in restaurants before and scared everybody half to death. And then there's the puking. He has a very sensitive gag reflex and with his stomach problems he tends to choke easily and then it's just all over with. One time we went out to eat with some friends and Korban choked and then threw up directly in my face. That's one of those things I would have sworn would have killed me before having kids, but I just cleaned up and went on. However, those friends have never asked us out again. I can't imagine why! ;)
All that being said, if Korban is being disruptive obviously he is removed from the situation immediately. It takes a lot of courage on all of our parts to be able to go out anywhere, but we enjoy going out and I don't feel like we should just hide under a rock. I don't want to ruin anybody else's night, so we try very hard not to bother other people, but I believe we have a right to enjoy the wide world too. :)
Anyway, I was excited about being outside and it felt very family friendly. Selah was all about the playground, so I walked her to it. She found a sweet little girl to play with, so I left her to her playing and went and sat back down with the boys. I could see the whole playground from where I sat and it was fenced it, so I wasn't nervous about that.
Our appetizer (crab nachos!) was delivered and we dove into that with gusto. Selah's all like "let me play on the playground!" And Korbans all like "give me more chips!" Ha!
That was just the appetizer. We were pretty excited about the main course too!
I told the waitress that Korban had just had his 8th birthday and asked if they would sing happy birthday to him. He loves that, and the waitress said they would be glad to do it. They were so sweet singing to him, and he was so excited.
After Korban finished eating, he asked to go to the playground. There were lots of kids playing, so Bradwalked him down there and stayed with him. He just walked around holding his
hand for awhile. Then Brad and I traded out when I finished eating so he could finish his meal.
By then Korban wanted to slide. Can I get some props for climbing up in a play structure, through a tunnel and down a slide with a belly full of coconut shrimp?
We played together for awhile, and then something pretty amazing happened. Korban grabbed my arm, pointed down at the ground and said "You go down there." He was telling me to leave him to play and go on--pretty big step for him. And honestly, for me too. He clings to me for comfort, but I'm used to keeping him within arms reach at all times because I just never know what he's going to do. But I felt pretty confident. He had been doing so well, and pretty much all the other kids playing were as big or bigger than him.
I went down to the ground and just enjoyed watching both my kids play. Korban wandered around and went down the slides head first and just had a ball. It was so cute. From time to time, he would lean his head out and say "They're being loud!" And I would tell him that they were just playing and ask if that was ok. He would say yes and go back to playing. He touched a couple of kids, but not in a mean way. Like he would just smile and hold his hand out to them. There was one little boy that was so sweet to him. He reminded me of our friends' son Jakub. He sort of looked like him, and he seemed mature for his age and just so KIND like Jake and his little brother Jack. I love seeing a sweet, gentle spirit like that.
This little boy kept speaking to Korban and giving him high five or shaking his hand. It made my heart so happy.
Selah played the whole time with the first little friend she met on the playground. That little girl was so sweet, and they played so well together.
So I was happily watching the kids play and I looked up and noticed Brad talking to a couple who had eaten dinner close to us. They chatted for a while, and when we all left Brad was so happy he had gotten to talk to them. They had noticed that Korban had special needs and explained to Brad that their daughter did too (a chromosomal abnormality I believe) . So they were talking for a long time about that. Their daughter just so happened to be Selah's little playmate that she had enjoyed playing with the whole time we were there!
They also had two older children, a son and another daughter. While Brad was talking to the dad, their son ran up saying "hey, there's a kid that's like sister on the playground and he's really cool!" (He was referring to Korban.) Remember me mentioning the little boy who had been so kind to Korban? Yeah, same kid. Special needs siblings are rock stars too.
I just thought it was such a God thing that we ran into such a precious family. Amazing way to top off an incredible day. Full bellies, even fuller hearts. :)