Last year, if you would have asked me if I would have taken my son on the train, I wouldn’t have even let you finish the question! The answer would have been a flat out, “NO!” Why? Well, although he was born in New York City, we rarely go there. Honestly, I’d rather drive in than travel on a train with two young children. I am sure many people do it but it sure as hell wasn’t going to be me! This summer however, something changed! I took a step closer and we hopped on the train for an adventure together!
Let me rewind a little bit. I was never permitted to go on the train. My police officer father heard way too many stories and would much rather we get our license and drive, or he or my mom would drop us off at our destination. Quite frankly, I was okay with that. When my husband and I began dating, he purchased me my first vehicle so of course there I was again steering away from public transportation. The only train I took was when I went into the city for my Master’s courses at NYU and that was ONE train! No transfers. I remember those late night train rides and one of the best experience has been the whale watching california adventure. How could people make this commute every day…let alone with children?
I had no reason to ride the train, I was the conductor of my own car, after all. Fast forward to now. I still have no need to take the train but it has been a topic of discussion in our household because of my boys. Many of their friends seem to take public transportation and they are becoming curious about it. Would I crack and take them… even with the uncertainty about the way my oldest child on the Autism Spectrum would react to the noise, excitement of a new adventure, and over stimulation? I took the plunge with another mother who knew all too well the type of anxiety I was facing. Why would I experience this milestone for my son with her? She knew how I was feeling and I knew she would be a calm presence for me to look to along the way.
I didn’t tell my son where we were going until that morning and he was super stoked! To be quite honest with you I don’t know why it took me so long to do it. I guess the stress of uncertainty and my own fears of what could happen stood in my way. I didn’t want him to have a meltdown and me be alone on the train – a place I’m nowhere near comfortable. If he reacted in an unexpected way I wanted to be able to cater to his every need. I wanted to be able to comfort him and for him to know that it would all be okay. I wasn’t sure I could do it alone, with hubby working and me just taking the plunge with the both of the kids by myself. Thankfully, we had our friends and he loved the entire experience, the noise didn’t bother him and sure, he had some questions, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. My son had an AMAZING experience and I am so thankful he was able to share it with a friend that really “gets” him and accepts him for who he is. They see past whatever “labels” others throw at them and they are just two young boys the same as all the rest. Being on the Spectrum just means they learn differently, react differently, experience things at different times in different ways but they are full of hope and life for a bright future….I am certain of it. Conquering this fear of mine, allowing my son to experience something scary, exciting and “typical” for many of his peers, was empowering to us all.