We headed down to Jackson, MS for the disAbility Mega conference Wednesday morning. We took this picture before we headed out.
I was really happy because Korban let me rest my hand on his back for the picture, even though he wouldn't stand very close to me. I mentioned in a previous blog how he is going through a period where he can't stand for anybody to touch him or stand close to him. Remember that, because it's going to be real important here in just a minute...
Brad's parents asked to go to the conference with us and we were able to make the necessary arrangements for the conference. We were excited because they haven't gotten to go on a trip together in a very long time and we have never been anywhere all together. I was really hoping they could relax and enjoy themselves and it would be a good trip for all of us. The kids were excited to go. This is the third time we've been to this particular conference and our first time to speak at it. We are speaking Friday morning about autism and service dogs.
We decided to stop in Tupelo to eat, since we were hungry and it was lunchtime. We chose Cracker Barrel. It was actually my idea I believe, because I am a stubborn individual who does not learn from her mistakes. (Again, more about that later.)
Now I know most of you have probably eaten at a Cracker Barrel, so you know the experience of walking in through the country store crowded with breakable merchandise. I thought we could make it past that. What I failed to take into consideration was the crowd of breakable PEOPLE that might be in there. Shall we say that Cracker Barrel appeals to the um, geriatric population?
So in we go with Korban securely tethered to Jet and the rest of our little entourage following along. Not only is the little store packed with all the things, it is also packed with people. Old people. So many old people. Brad was handling Jet, and he deftly led the boys through the perimeter of the store, following the path of least resistance. We navigated that successfully but then it was time to wait at the hostess stand, along with a crowd of other people. And Korban was not having it. He took one look at all those people and instant panic set in. "NO!" he wailed "NononoNOOOOOOO!!!" By then everyone was looking and I knew we needed to make a hasty exit. The problem was we were literally hemmed in on every side by all these sweet, fragile elderly people and since teleporting isn't an option (although for autism families by golly, it should be) we were just stuck. Korban's screaming and trying to bolt but he can't because he's attached to Jet. Every time I reach for him he screams louder and jerks in the opposite direction. I finally just grabbed a fistful of his shirt in each hand, figuring it was better than touching his skin, and started hauling him in the direction of the exit while Brad and Jet propelled him from the other side. We said excuse me a bunch of times and I frantically prayed he wouldn't inadvertently cause someone a broken hip. Finally we were in the sunshine, looking at a sea of wooden rockers, which we collapsed gratefully into.
I offered to run Korban through a drive through while the rest of the family ate inside Cracker Barrel, but Brad just rolled his eyes at me. Actually he rolled them twice, because he was wearing sunglasses and he took him off to make sure I got the full effect the second time. As we were leaving a lady came outside and asked me if Korban was ok. I told her yes, that he just panicked because of too many people. She said her neighbor has two children with autism and she understands. Hugged me and told me she hoped he felt better soon. In case you ever need to how to react when someone's child has a meltdown in public, her reaction was pretty much the epitome of the best possible reaction.
We decided we should just go through the drive through at Chik Fil A and be on our way. (I love you, beautiful chicken manna from Chik Fil A.) The rest of our family loaded up and me and Brad stood at the back of the van and looked at each other. It was one of those "are we gonna keep moving or find a hole to lay low in for awhile," kind of looks. After a minute, he said "Bless 'em, they were TRYING to move out of the way. They weren't stopping to stare and be all judgy, they just couldn't get out of the way fast enough." I sighed and said "I know. I'm really glad he didn't push anybody." Brad said "did you see that one fella? He hitched up his pants so that he could move faster!" *Brad hitches up his khakis and rapidly shuffles across the parking lot to demonstrate* I couldn't help it, I started laughing. "And there were three little ladies all yanking on each other and trying to run away in different directions," he went on. I was totally cracking up by this point. We sure caused a scene.
And that made me think of the last time Korban flipped out at that same Cracker Barrel. I hadn't thought of that incident in ages, and if I had've I probably wouldn't have been so quick to suggest it today. Korban was around 6 and we stopped by after a neurologist apt in Tupelo. It wasn't even that crowded but he was really antsy and threw one of those peg games. I got super worried because they have those oil lamps on the table too so we beat a hasty retreat before we even ordered. He was small enough then I could still scoop him up in my arms and hustle with them, but he was fighting me that day. He managed to hook his fingers in my scoop neck shirt AND my bra and jerked it down, causing me to flash everyone. And then when we got out to those lovely rocking chairs, he treated all the folks sitting out there to the same show! So yeah, it's probably a miracle they don't have a poster up with our faces on it saying "Do not let these people come in."
I relayed that story to Brad and it was his turn to crack up. We agreed that at least I kept my clothes on this time. And then I remembered that whole controversy about Cracker Barrel firing Brad's wife, and I am also Brad's wife, so we laughed about that for a while too.
If there's one thing I've learned, if there is anyway at all, find the humor in a challenging situation. Laughter will carry you through some tough times and I ugly cry anyway, so I'm really doing the world a favor. Look for the kind people like the lady who went out of her way to show us kindness. And every single chance you get, BE that kind lady.
We still haven't made it out of northeast Mississippi, so if you pray now would be a good time to do so. ;) More updates coming soon!