Tums for breakfast.
Ten Hail Mary's.
Tears mixing with lotion on my face are making a slimy mess while I sit.
Crying, as Jake takes flight.
Checking Life 360 GPS every 15 minutes, well 10 minutes, well....ok 5.
Let's be real... my phone battery may die because I keep refreshing the app to check Jake's location as he embarks on his first "pack ride" on his bike.
He's strong, he's fast, but also sensitive. He doesn't like too many people in a room near him let alone a bunch of strangers, inches away, moving at 15mph.
As the sun came up, Jake joined 15 men at All American Bicycle Center, established and experienced riders, for a group jaunt through the back streets of our county. He's admittedly nervous. This is a kid who has done speeches in front of hundreds (thousands) of people with no fear, is nervous?!
His bike coach Matt is the ride leader. He appears calm but always does. Introduces Jake to the group as his friend and good rider. Never mentions Autism. I'm thinking how amazing is that? (Then I was glad I briefed the group while Jake was out of ear shot. He's impulsive.) Thinking, what if I hadn't mentioned anything? Would he be accepted as just another rider? But then if he swerves and nails someone? They need to know to keep a little more space. I think I'm ok.
The tums I had for breakfast, is not mixing well with the Diet Coke I'm mainlining at McDonalds. I wait.
GPS: "Moving near H.C. Road. You are 19 minutes drive from Jake."
Ok. He's still moving. Looks like he's at an intersection. I hope he can get his foot off the pedal. It's his first ride with clip pedals. He's agile, but if he's distracted it could get stuck. He could fall into traffic. Is there a shoulder on that road? How close do the cars come? What if he hits another rider? They're still stopped. Maybe it's a water break.
I was anxious this morning, but think I did a pretty good job of hiding my jitters. I offered little input, short instructions, no real emotion.
I was mostly calm, mostly, and gave him room. At home he was asking lots of questions, in the car he reviewed his "post-bike BBRT" (Brain Battery Recharge Time), I think for my benefit. This way he won't have to tell me to stop talking.
Once at the meeting place, he wanted distance. He's the only one there with "mom" so I gave him space.
"Moving near J.C. Road. 18 minutes drive to Jake."
I wonder if he feels better now that the endorphins have kicked in. This group rides slightly faster average pace than Jake is used to. He'll push himself to keep up. Prepare for anything this afternoon.
Stopped again. It's not an intersection. Oh no. I hope he's ok. Please don't be a flat... or worse.
My tears have dried as my mind races. Go Jake. I'm staring at the green dot on my phone, willing it to move so I know everything is ok.
"Moving again near J.C. Road. 15 minutes drive to Jake."
I texted Chris that I was surprised by my tears. He replied, "and the sun came up again."
He knows me. He knows watching this boy fly brings tears of pride, fear, excitement and did I mention fear.
I should be working. Need something to distract my brain. Is it this hard for all parents? When the kids stretch their wings? Will this get easier? I guess it has to. Trying to find a deep breath... fly baby, fly.
This is how acceptance and understanding happens. One ride at a time.