So it was wonderful to return, thanks to my Aunt who organized a getaway – and we packed a lot in from Friday afternoon to this Sunday morning.
A Saturday morning 2.5 km hike through the woods that had wild blueberry bushes along the trail, which we picked and nibbled on.
My cousin – T’s Uncle J – and I took T out canoeing on both days.
T and I swam at the resort pool and we all sat by the scenic docks where T enjoyed throwing rocks in the water.
He made friends with a boy and they spent time stalking and antagonizing a water snake.
Our group consisted of us three, my Aunt, T’s Uncle J, his partner and their dog, and my cousin, who has Down syndrome.
I’m blessed to have extended family – this one in particular, who I grew up with since I was T’s age – who is welcoming of T.
There were several challenging moments during the weekend – tantrums, rude language, perseverating over my cousin’s dog, who gets anxious around T’s hyper energy.
On Friday night, as we were eating dinner by the dock, we repeatedly told T to not play with a rope used to tie to boats. He didn’t listen and he slipped off the edge and feel into the cold water.
So the hubby and I let him sit in his cold wet clothes while we finished our dinner.
This morning, T knocked through four “STFUs” within the first 10 minutes of getting up, thankfully in our cabin with just the hubby and I – and I told him to stay inside to calm down before joining the group for breakfast in my aunt’s cabin.
While they don’t fully understand FASD, they ask questions now instead of offering advice (one of my pet peeves) – although my Aunt did call him a rude child when he was having a fit; a deserved and fair comment.
They also empathize because of my cousin, the other T, who also has a disability.
FASD and Down syndrome are night and day – my cousin is calm, whereas T is a firecracker loose in a store filled with TNT – but the need for support, advocacy, empathy and patience are similar.
T is also caring of my cousin T, often watching out for her and giving her hugs.
We always budget double the recommended time for a hike, because my cousin T is slow, whereas T zips ahead then circles back to get us.
These moments remind me every disability has their strengths and challenges – and to be thankful for our many blessings.
As we were packing up our cars this morning, my aunt remarked that we show a lot of patience with T and I said we’re not always so patient and there are many moments when we lose our shit.
I then said the trick is to do our best to focus on the positives – and there are many – because otherwise, you lose yourself in the weeds.
And it was a very lovely weekend.
My favorite memory was on Saturday night, the hubby and I borrowed two bikes from the resort and took T on his bike for a nearly hour-long sunset ride, zipping through quiet country roads and streets.
It was the first time we biked as a family – the first in years the hubby and I biked – and the first time T had so much freedom of space to explore.
He listened well to our instructions to always slow down and stop at every intersection – and no accidents or busted lips this time.
I later told the hubby that long past the disregulated moments, these happy memories are what we will all remember fondly.