We are going to Northern California tomorrow for my brother’s wedding. Emma is very excited to see her Uncle Andy and because we rarely travel anywhere new, this is a particularly appealing trip. Other than visiting her Granma in Colorado, we have only traveled to places that required us to travel because of medical treatments for Emma. Panama and Costa Rica for Emma’s three stem cell treatments and Boston to meet with Dr. Timothy Buie, a specialist in autism and GI tract issues. When we flew to Boston a year later for one of my cousin’s wedding, Emma was convinced we were returning to the hospital where they’d performed a colonoscopy and endoscopy on her. It wasn’t until we actually got to the wedding and she saw the guests did she relax. We use to go to Cape Cod every August for a couple of weeks, but haven’t been, since we got Emma’s diagnosis. In fact it was on that last trip almost seven years ago that we came to the conclusion we needed to get her evaluated. Even if it were easier to travel with Em, Cape Cod sadly, holds painful memories for me and so I’ve not been eager to return.
However this trip is one Emma is anticipating with great excitement.
“Sleep, wake up, get on airplane, go see Uncle Andy!” Emma said this morning, while bouncing up and down.
“Yeah, Em. We’re going to have fun!”
“No. Not going to go on the school bus. Going to see Uncle Victor, Grandma, Uncle Nic, Gaby, Lili, Liesl …” she went through the list of all the people we would undoubtedly see at my brother’s wedding.
“Are you excited?” I asked.
“Yes! So excited!” Emma shouted and then ran out of the room.
There’s a certain degree of anxiety that comes with traveling with Emma. Though she rarely has melt downs any more on the airplane, in fact she’s become a wonderful traveler, we always brace ourselves for the unexpected. Because we aren’t allowed to pack any liquids or her yogurt (she’ll only drink Mott’s apple juice or Apple & Eve Apple juice and only if it comes from a plastic bottle, not a can) we have limited options when it comes to what she’ll drink and eat. Usually she doesn’t eat anything other than her Pirate’s Booty, though last time we flew back from Colorado I did manage to get her to drink a small amount of the apple juice they served on the airplane. It felt like a victory. She use to eat fruit leathers and as they also helped her ears during landing and take off, we used to pack about ten of them. She has recently been refusing to eat them, but I’ll bring some anyway on the off chance she’ll eat one.
We will be staying in an inn and thankfully the entire place has been taken over by my extended family. Even if Emma does lose it, at least the people effected by her screams know of her situation and will hopefully be patient and kind. Even so, it’s tough not to worry. Richard scoped out the different day trips we can take while there this weekend and there seem to be a great many of them. He found a pool she can swim in and an amusement park.
“Well we’ve got Saturday and most of Sunday until the wedding covered,” Richard announced earlier.
We’re sitting in the back of the plane, which is a good news/bad news situation. The good news is, we’re next to the bathrooms, the bad news is we’ll be the last to get off and Emma has a difficult time sitting still after the plane is at the gate. She wants to get off the plane NOW and can’t understand why we have to wait to let everyone in front of us off first. But who knows, maybe she’ll be able to tolerate the wait this time.
So while Emma is ecstatic and without any anxiety about traveling to see her Uncle Andy, Richard and I are anxiously making sure we’re well prepared and haven’t forgotten anything. I use to be a very casual traveler, often late to the gate, the last one on board before they shut the doors and pulled away from the gate, winging it when it came to where I might stay the night. In my twenties and thirties I often traveled alone, to all sorts of places all over the world. But since I had children, I am a nervous wreck when traveling.
I’ll try to take a page from Emma’s book. Relax, look out the window, chew on a fruit leather and enjoy the journey.
For more on Emma’s travel adventures through a childhood of autism, go to: www.EmmasHopeBook.com