When I deregistered PanKwake from school, one of the dreams that I had was all the astounding things we could do and see around London. But that never proved as easy as I imagined.
Oh, we went to all the usual places. Natural History Museum, aquarium, Science Museum, and Trafalgar Square were among her favorites. Except those trips almost always included a meltdown. There was a pattern. We managed to get there fine. Had fun. Then melted down buying our souvenir or on the way home.
Once it took us almost four hours to make the return trip from the Natural History Museum that had only taken half an hour to get to. She wanted McDonald’s to eat, but could not handle the crowded bus. I walked from the museum to Trafalgar Square, getting lost several times. It started to rain and we got wet. I had to buy her a hoodie just to make the final leg of our journey. If that were not enough, she could not manage the complete bus trip. We had to get off again between Trafalgar Square and Camden. I was exhausted and in tears when we got home.
But I kept at it. I wanted PanKwake to have as ‘normal’ a life as she could. And if you read my summer adventure review series, you’ll know it was a strategy that worked. These days, our trips are not as frequent. But they are much less problematic. The other day we went back to Plantasia with her new companion, Catherine the Grate. It was a breeze. We walked down there, stopping to pick carpet for the playroom. We spent about an hour looking at all the plants and animals. Then we walked into town and had lunch at TGIFridays. When we were done, we even managed to go to the craft shop for some things for our MineCon Earth party. It was a true pleasure.
Thing is…these days it is not PanKwake for whom travel and doing things is problematic. It is me. Unless it is something I am doing for her sake, where I am focused on her or other children/little humans, I fall to pieces. I don’t necessarily meltdown, although a recent trip to the store had me walking around muttering cuss words under my breath as my stim. More often I shutdown. The hard truth is that when it comes to doing the things we want to do, PanKwake’s autism is less disabling than my own.
Take last Friday, for instance. I am a huge fan of Elvis impersonators (excuse me, the proper term is Tribute Artists). The cheesier the better. Earlier this month, I had gone to our local theater to enjoy a concert by a really good one. But we are blessed to be less than an hour by train/bus to the largest annual Elvis festival in Europe. When I found this out, I just had to go. I even convinced Alan to go with me. I could not have managed it otherwise.
As with PanKwake getting there was not so bad. It was pretty straightforward. Except for getting caught in a torrential downpour that soaked us to the skin in only a couple of minutes. Just a couple of blocks from the venue, no less.
That is when things started to go south. Crowds. I hate crowds. I suppose I always have. But it has gotten much worse the past few years. Why do all these theaters, hotels, and museums have such tiny reception areas? It was stifling. Hundreds of people in such a packed space.
We finally made it to our seats which were not bad. These days I absolutely must sit at the end of the row. I cannot handle being cramped between two people. The problem with that is having to get up and down for others.
The show itself was good. If you like cheesy Elvis Tribute Artists then Porthcawl is the place to go.
The real trouble started on the way out. The crowd was even worse. People arrive in stages but they all want to leave at once. I wanted a souvenir. But the line and crowd were too much. I could not even force myself to use the bathroom the queue was so long. Thankfully, they opened the emergency exit door. Even better, there was a port-a-potty just outside.
Off we then set for home. But as with those PanKwake trips, the journey back took twice as long. First, we got on the slow bus to hell. We had taken the express bus to get there. But going back we just got on the first one that showed up. It rambled all over the area, sometimes even going in circles. To make matters much, much, much worse, there was a couple with substance abuse issues. They were loud and fighting. My anxiety went through the roof. Between the emotional vibes of this couple and the unknown of the bus route, I was gripping tightly to Alan’s hand the whole way back. We even caught the slow train, the one that stops at all the podunk towns along the way.
I kept telling Alan, almost from the moment we got to the theater, next year remind me…we aren’t doing this. It was simply not worth it. The problem is…when it comes to me, leaving the house almost never is.