Sunday, February 14, 2010

Busy enough for ya?

I forget how to add. Like 2 + 2 = 4 is obvious, so should be a more algebraic but equally basic equation like Valentine's Day + Sunday = Crowded Mall.

We decided after the Jell-O and candy at Nana's to celebrate the day with our sugar-sweetened children by going to the $2 discounted theatre at the mall. "We" being half the town.

In our wisdom to forget about people behaving just like us, it also never occurred to us to allow time for a line, so we were forced to take the only row that had 7 empty and consecutive seats--the front row.

Now would be a good time to explain some things about the experience of Autism: big, huge, loud, flashy and colorful experiences are better in smaller, more distant and constrained conditions like between two parents near the back with the entire comforting mass of family between the experience and the exit. Being able to get up and walk into the open space in front of the first row makes everything less tolerable. You have options. Options are not good.

On the other hand bailing on a movie, getting vouchers to return another day and indoor playgrounds on a blustery winter day are good. Getting to it in a crowded mall? Not so very good.

My kids are 6, 4, 4, 2, and 1. There are 1 more of them than there are available adult hands. They dawdle. They look at things. They have short legs. They exist when other people are existing. These things about children in large groups make some adults in small groups grumpy. Adults grumpy about children being children tickles my sense of the absurd and I laugh. I also connect seemingly unrelated dots, like certain unfortunate winter clothing choices and frozen bakery items. Dot connecting makes my husband laugh.

So, here we were, traipsing around with children and laughing because we were actually having a good time. Some other people were also having a good time. They exchanged pleasantries in that Mallish way of milling about and making eye contact and saying something nice just loud enough to be overheard. "Cute kids." "Look at that hair." "Aw!" We had our share of nice things to say about some little girls in very princessy looking dresses as well as a few wind and weather remarks made to allow for a bit of idle conversation among strangers.

Sadly, though, amongst the crowd of us there were people there not to have a good time at all. They exchanged grumpiness in that Mallish way of not making eye contact and brushing past in a way that screams, "I'm busy here!" in a flustered and important way.

I never realized road rage was possible without a road.

I've been that busy. I can't even stand myself when I'm that busy. I hate it. I'd especially hate being busy on a Sunday in February when me and everyone else decides to do the same thing at the same time and we're all kinda stuck with each other doing it. I'd much prefer having nothing much better to do than enjoy some time with my family--my small one and my very big one--all the whole lot of us.

Even in a Mall.

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