Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Popsicle Stick Christmas Tree

No divorce yesterday.  Eric was too busy cursing at the fact that the discount Christmas Tree we purchased (sight unseen) from our large wholesale box store, Costco came frozen shut.  Yes, that's right - frozen shut like a Popsicle stick.  I'll get to this tragic, yet highly humorous story in a moment.

Saturday morning started out pleasant enough.  I had planned on taking my men out for a lovely late breakfast before looking for the "perfect" holiday tree.  I had some extra money tucked away and I thought this would be a nice way to start the day.  Of course Austynn had already raided my kitchen pantry of Pop-Tarts while watching Saturday morning cartoons. 

Several weeks ago, I had sworn off purchasing these nasty fast food breakfast treats for this very purpose.  William and Austynn will ask me on a daily basis for Pop-Tarts.  In fact, sometimes while they're eating a rather large serving of spaghetti for dinner, they'll request them for breakfast the next morning.  This drives me crazy.  However, I'm all about squeezing out the most value for my morning.  This has nothing to do with dollar savings and everything to do with my coveted quiet time with my coffee bowl.  So yes, I in my selfish parental need to have a few extra uninterrupted moments in front on my computer monitor, have opted to keep these foul, addicting, sugar-laden products in my pantry for last minute breakfast fixes on the go.  Bad mama.  I digress.

Who knew that the local Village Inn Restaurant on a Saturday morning would be so crowded with holiday shoppers?  I certainly did not; however, I was determined to make the best of a bad situation.  Besides, I was hungry -- I wanted french toast, eggs, bacon, orange juice, and coffee.  Eric was ready to leave when he saw the people ahead of us but I was in a good mood.  It was manageable.  We could wait five, ten, fifteen minutes, couldn't we?  Most families could.  Ours, not so much.  William and Austynn don't do well in crowds and because of this, neither do I.  Austynn tends to hang on me and strokes my hair.  He kisses my cheeks repeatedly.  This may sound sweet to many of my readers but I must explain that Austy is a 175 pound 13 year old.  One kiss is sweet - fifteen to twenty - not so much.  Plus, he had just eaten a sucker from the counter.  My face and hair was a sticky, slobbery mess by the time we sat down.

Austy still loves to color in the children's menus.  When we sat down, he had discovered that there was an extra crayon from a prior diner below the table.  Despite my repeated requests to leave the crayon where it was, he went for it.  This is when all Hell broke loose.  William, my oldest son, can be cruel when it comes to his younger brother plus he often doesn't use a lot of common sense.  When Austynn dove under the booth to get the crayon, Will pinned Austy's head hard against the table with his knee.  My 13 year old screamed as William simultaneously yelled denial.  When I type, "screamed", I'm not sugar coating it.  It was horrible.  Eric immediately removed Austy from the restaurant and I took control of William severely scolding him.

Why are there such awful people in the world?  At the moment when this crisis occurred, a nasty, red-headed, older woman turned around directly behind us and yelled something to the effect, "What are you people doing?  You're killing my ears!"

Now, I can understand if we had a screaming child whom we were not removing from the restaurant and ruining her meal; however, we had a one time, quick incident with two autistic boys which we handled immediately.  I was enraged.  So much for my pleasant mood.

I asked the hostess to move us to another booth across the restaurant as I proceeded to tell the nasty, red head and her friends that I had two autistic kids and I hoped to Hell her ear would be ringing for the rest of the day.  Oops, I guess I need to go to Confession again.  I was hot.  As I walked away, I could hear her responding with something like, "it wasn't her problem."  Of course it wasn't but based on the embarrassed looks of her friends, I'm certain they were mortified that their companion didn't show a little more compassion for a family who was obviously doing their best.

When we were ready to pay our bill for breakfast, the waitress grinned and said that someone sitting near us had left and paid for our meal.  Apparently, they had seen what had happened and understood.  I wanted to cry.  Sometimes in my little world of being a special needs parent, I forget that there are others who actually have empathy.  This lovely person must have overheard us discuss that our family's autism isn't always clear to others and that people don't understand the outbursts when they happen.  We discussed that Dad and I don't accept that having Asperger's is an excuse for screaming in restaurants.  That even though William and Austynn have special needs, we expect them to work harder at their behavior in public.  I'm also guessing that this person may have overheard our prayer over breakfast, when we joined hands and William asked God to help him not take his family for granted and Austynn asked the Lord to help him listen more to his parents and not scream in restaurants.  Dad asked for more patience with his boys and I thanked God for the beautiful day, the food before us and the family beside us.  God bless this person and thank You.

So now we get to the Christmas Tree purchase.  By the time breakfast was over, we were done with the morning.  We just wanted to make a quick, cheap purchase of a tree and go home.  Costco, our large wholesale box store, sells trees at extremely reasonable prices from the back of a truck trailer.  These trees have been sitting in the back of the trailers since the beginning of the holiday season.  This is probably why they are so inexpensive.  Throw in the fact that we buy them wrapped and have no idea what they look like, well - the Potts' family was just asking for trouble.

When we got home, we hosed the tree off in the back yard and shook it, and shook it, and shook it again.  We picked it up and dropped it.  Uh oh. We bought a frozen Popsicle stick Christmas Tree.  It had been so cold the last few weeks in Thornton that the trees in the back of the Costco truck trailer were frozen shut.  Oh well.  It will open up eventually.  We'll let it defrost on our family room rug, in the heavy, metal stand that won't let the tree fall over three times this year in a mess of broken ornaments.

Today will be an ugly, messy, unorganized disaster with dishes everywhere, pine needles on every tile, and puddles of defrosted Popsicle stick Christmas Tree all over the carpet.  Laundry in mid-sort, dinner in mid-preparation, the vacuum on the middle of the floor, everything in the middle of the way, and dogs in mid confusion...poor critters.  Absolute lunacy.  I feel right at home, go figure?  This is home.

God bless us everyone - even the nasty, red-headed, older woman at Village Inn Restaurant yesterday.

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