Where were we? Oh! Yes! Watertown, MA. By this time we were finding it hard to believe we were on vacation now for a week. Studies have been shown that it takes a few days on vacation to unwind. Usually, by the time your week is almost up you have to think about returning and so never fully get a break. But this day I realized it had been a week and I was more than relaxed. I was thoroughly enjoying being with just my kids. But this morning I was tired. I was also wondering what this day, that we have looked so forward to, would look like. First, I woke kiddos up. We had to check out, load up and get breakfast and be at Perkins School for the Blind by 8:30 am. On this day, of all days, Kodiak woke up moody, mad, agitated and unwilling to cooperate and put clothes on. This is not the usual Kodiak in the mornings. I said to the other two…”Do you think he knows today is a big day?” We tried putting him in the car and he refused to put his feet in so we could close the car door. Oh! Boy! Our strategy? One kid opens other back door leans in and tries with two arms to grab all four of his limbs and keep them in the center of the car. Boy he is tricky. Finally, in a split second it works and I get the door safely shut without getting any fingers or toes.
Once all in, we programmed the GPS and begin our journey. Did I mention that the streets in Boston area don’t make sense? There are reasons for it… It’s actually an excellent historical research project that I won’t list but feel free to click on the link we looked up… Did you know out east there are a ton of Panera Bread shops? We grabbed breakfast and then Starbucks coffee. We made it to the school with 30 minutes to spare. With Kodiak’s mood only slightly improved we walked up to the entrance for the DeafBlind building. It was such a beautiful walk full of beautiful mature trees in full fall colors mixed with beautiful evergreens. It was sunny and cool. Kodiak actually began to calm down.
We met and discussed the day. Then Symone and Colten headed off to a lounge to work on homework of their own. I went and met the team of amazing people who began to work with Kodiak. It’s like they instantly understood him and that he understood them. They had various tasks available to see what he knows and how he explores. It was clear he likes active activities and likes to stand more than sit. Seeing him settled I went and met with an audiologist. I got some good tips… One big one is get that sedated hearing test done and the bone conduction hearing aide so that he can be taught sounds that mean danger. He could also enjoy soothing sounds or music. The thing is a child learns language the first 5 years of life. Kodiak had not heard enough speech to ever speak or understand spoken language. So this option would not help him with this. Asside from this he also needs a sedated MRI to determine if he has his olfactory nerves that would tell us if he can smell. We also learned that all these kids in some form or another want to spin, hang upside down etc. So we need to also have his semi-circular canals checked to see if they are deformed or working correctly. You know… I have researched these guys before. The cool experiment we did at one DeafBlind conference is blindfolded and with ear plugs in we had to quickly shake our head with an exaggerated yes several times, shake it with an exaggerated “no” several times and then alternating move right ear towards right shoulder and then left ear towards left shoulder. Then stand up. I was so dizzy and off-balance I thought I was going to lose my breakfast. I quickly took off my blindfold and earplugs and it didn’t help. At least not right away. After my eyes focused and my head stopped spinning I began to feel better. I had a brand new sense of understanding of my sweet little boy. So when asked these questions I realized I knew this about my little boy all along. No I don’t know if they are missing or deformed… But I know he is affected by the full moon, weather – namely barometer, and if he has sinus issues or different things that it can make a person off-balance. My little guy has been always seeking his balance.
As they learned quickly he also depends on others like leaning on them for balance if he is touching them. But forcing him to stand on his own he does just fine. Except up or down stairs… THAT needs major work. Kodiak also seeks communication. If he doesn’t understand or doesn’t want to do something he says “No” by shaking head “No” or hitting his head or says “Ugh! Ugh!” All things we as a family know but can’t always communicate. Only cause we have learned Kodiak’s language but we can’t always interpret it to others. It’s like we just know but it depends of what is going on at the time when he does it. Some are more out of anger, frustration, kidding, asking a question or confused.
We got to lunch and ate at the DeafBlind residence building kitchen. Those kids are so sweet. Some very social some more quiet. But Kodiak was my big eater. Then he went for a walk around the grounds with the motility teacher. We had a tour and saw all the things those kids do. Like the chores and meaningful things they are taught to and make to sell. They even get to go into the community and have jobs. I felt they give these kids meaningful things to learn and do. It gives them a purpose. Not just live and be entertained but made to feel like they have value in their special gifts. Their keen sense of touch that the rest of the world doesn’t really pay much attention to because they can see and hear is being used in a full way to the fullest potential possible.
I could go on and on about this day. But, it’s so hard to process it all let alone put it all into words. I will say everyone was so sweet to Kodiak. He was treated with dignity, respect and with a gentle touch. He was also laughing responding and performing. By 2:30 pm though he was tired. Coming back from a walk he felt his big brother and he put his head on him and began to cry. I know that cry. It’s one of his “I’m done. I’m tired and I need to rest and process all of this information.” Kodiak I understand. I felt the same way. I needed time. I needed space and I needed to get in the car and drive. He did so good. New school, new environment, new people, new things to do and explore but now he needs a break. As we walked outside and got closer to the car he realized between his two older siblings that he was ok, safe and we were leaving. He willingly got into the car.
We programmed the GPS and headed off to our next destination. We headed to New Heartford, NY near Utica. The drive was beautiful, peaceful and full of conversations at different times related to the day we just had. Many “what ifs?” were asked. We stopped and got a good supper at the same time we got gas. We also needed Starbucks again because we still had a drive. I wish I knew the town we were in (we think this was at Albany, NY.) but it was in mountains and was amazing I think along this area is where we saw two dear on the rocky side by the highway and one began to fall but at the last second it caught its footing. Both Colt and I were in shock. It would have fallen to its death and onto the highway and us had it not caught its footing. In all things we see like this I try to point out life lessons to my kids. Like, had the deer been on safe ground the risk would not have been there. Don’t risk your life for fun. It’s never worth it. It doesn’t mean you don’t try things it just means don’t put your life or the lives of others at risk it worked out this time for that deer, but next time it might not. The rest of the way got dark. The roads winding and when we got to our room, in short order was when Kodiak made a mess of the bed.
You will notice part of this is repeated. But I wanted to fill in some gaps that I left out in my last post, unintentionally, because that day had so much to process. I couldn’t find all the words.
The next morning, Thursday, I went to check out and told the front desk lady how beautiful it was here when we woke up.
She told us “if you think this is cool you need to drive through the Adirondack mountain and park areas. We seriously discussed it. But we needed to visit friends near Rochester and get to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls before dark. After looking it up and seeing how large of an area it covers, and seeing how beautiful it is, we decided it’s a must see in the future and not this trip.
We headed on to Rochester area. We stopped and saw some old friends and met their kids. Cute little boy and new baby girl. We stayed longer than we intended. However, it was good times.
We were ready for the remaining drive to the border. So many bridges. We began counting them and then gave up. Crossing rainbow bridge and now at customs I handed over our passports. That lady was so welcoming and even told us what we had to see and told the kids to enjoy the falls since it was their first time. They were getting excited now. When we got to the falls we drove by. The mist was so much we needed the wipers on. They were excited to get to our room so we could walk down by the falls. We got to the motel. It is right on the falls and on 11th floor with a spectacular view. We were in awe of the room. Kodiak just found a bed and collapsed face down on it.
We regrouped after. Taking photos. We were very hungry. So we got supper across the street at an Outback Steakhouse. I realized I had my favorite people with me in a different country for the first time. The only adult and we did it. It was ok. We were safe. It hit me then just sitting the looking at all 3 and seeing them smile and giggle like they were.
Content, happy, excited, peaceful…. I mean just look at the faces and the smiles reached their eyes. It was not just this place. It was the whole trip up to this point. I think the 4 of us quite possibly could just roadtrip all the time if money, school and time was never an issue. Clearly we all were having so much fun. After we were done eating we stopped at a gift shop. Then we decided to head down to the falls. It was dark, it was a steep walk down the hills. But Kodiak wanted to run down them. The closer we got the more mist we felt. I realized I was not dressed warm enough. But the lights were amazing.
My little monster was practically running up the hill on the way back. The kids were having so much fun with him and giggling all the way. We got to the top and stopped in a little shop to get some bottled water and a snack. The kids discovered the maple syrup suckers. Some shaped like maple leaves and some like moose. Back in our room we got Kodiak ready for bed and then sat with the lights off looking out the window at the falls. Exhausted we went to bed and slept well.
Stay tuned for the next adventure… It was not over yet…?