Since she figured out the riddle in December, Kaitlyn has been immersing herself in all things Disney cruise. She reads the guidebook constantly, and visits the website frequently. To say that she is obsessed with the cruise might be a bit of an understatement, sort of along the lines of saying that the Grand Canyon is just a “little hole in the ground.” She has been beyond the normal stage of excited for several months, and as the days get closer, somehow she has room to cram in even more excitement. It is pretty remarkable.
The other night, I told her that she has one chore that she will have to do, and do well, while we are on the ship. And that is to have fun. A lot of it. She promised that she would have “one million times fun” on the ship, and I plan on holding her to that claim.
She tells everyone she talks to about our cruise, and then proceeds to educate them with bits of information about the four cruise ships in the Disney fleet, and then about what activities there are on each ship, and finally what there is to do at the various ports of call. If you want to know anything about what is offered on a Disney cruise, let me know, and I will have Kaitlyn provide the answer; of course if you are patient and wait until later this summer, she will be able to provide an answer with accompanying pictures and commentary.
Pretty soon, we will be sailing on the Disney Dream, leaving for a four night adventure out of Port Canaveral. And while we have yet to step foot on the ship, have not taken one ride on the AquaDuck, that has not stopped Kaitlyn from already starting to plan our next Disney cruise. Of course, since we have not gone on this one, we cannot be certain that there will be another one, but that does not matter to her at all. She has made up her mind that we are going on another one. Amber and I have talked at length about just that, and have determined that we are leaning toward doing another one after this one, as long as none of us gets into any prolonged battles with seasickness at all.
The other night while we were eating, and having sensed Kaitlyn’s building excitement and taken note of her pre-planning for cruise number two, I asked Kaitlyn a very simple question. I asked her if we do decide to take another cruise next year, does she want anybody to join us? I thought for sure she would bring up that she wanted to bring along a friend, or possibly her whole class (she is thoughtful like that), but she did not, and that came as a surprise to Amber and I. No, she went a different direction altogether, one that tells me so much about her line of thinking. I am not going to share on here who she said she would like to go on another cruise with us because I do not want to put any pressure on anyone, but I am proud that she came up with this potential company on her own.
The morning after her announcement regarding potential company on another cruise, I asked her if she would rather go on a four night or a seven night cruise, and her answer did not surprise me in the least. She has already determined that we will be embarking on a seven night cruise if we go on one in the future. That way, she says, we can have a character dinner and tea time with some princesses. Makes sense to me, and it always thrills me to see how she comes up with some of the stuff she comes up with.
*The photos included with this entry are property of the entities listed on each, or in the case of the AquaDuck, property of the Disney Cruise Line. After our cruise, my intent is to provide a recap, most likely in the form of multiple entries which will include pictures.
Saturday, we took Kaitlyn to her friend’s birthday party at our local indoor bounce house venue. They have several bounce houses and video games to wear out kids and drain wallets, so we pretty much only go there when there is a birthday party.
To get into the actual facility, we had to walk down a long corridor. Amber and I were trying to make casual conversation with Kaitlyn as we were making the trek when it happened. Because she feels like she is always the center of attention, or at least should be, even when we are going to her friend’s birthday party, Kaitlyn announced, “I’m about to arrive.”
I’m not quite sure what she was expecting to happen upon her arrival. Was she looking for a red carpet? Photographers? Entrance music?
It is nice to see that Kaitlyn has slowly gained the confidence in herself to be able to make such a proclamation. While that same confidence can and does easily become short-lived, it is huge progress for her.
After her “arrival,” Kaitlyn pretty much ran around non-stop. It was really tough to keep track of her sometimes, but Amber and I have our system down so one of us almost always has our eyes on her. She bounced around a lot, and tried her hand at air hockey, too. She was also basically unaffected both times she rode the roller coaster simulator they have there (the birthday girl, however, almost did not fare as well, but she kept all of her food down), which is better than I would have done. The party wore her down so much that she was still exhausted well into Sunday, which is a rare thing for her (Amber and I are hoping that her exhaustion yesterday does not end up with one of Kaitlyn’s sick days. Those are never fun.)
If Kaitlyn was expecting a big deal to be made out of her arrival at a birthday party this past weekend, she will be in for a real treat when we board the ship for our Disney cruise this summer.
Like so many people with Asperger’s, when Kaitlyn develops a relationship with someone, it is done with a deep connection. She generally does not have many ancillary relationships or mere acquaintances.
The depth of her relationship with one of her very good friends was on full display yesterday at T-ball practice. And it was an amazing thing to see.
For starters, and maybe I am just being a biased dad, but Kaitlyn and her friend are two of the better players on the team. They tend to hit well, field well, and their throws end up in the general vicinity of their target most of the time, which is saying something for T-ball.
Yesterday’s practice was just like the rest of them have been: they played catch, worked on fielding, and then worked on hitting. As will happen when activities are done on a rotational basis, the time came when Kaitlyn’s friend was to take her turn hitting. Kaitlyn was still in the field, patiently waiting her turn (anytime Kaitlyn patiently waits for anything, it is a big deal) as her friend was hitting. On a couple of swings, her friend either missed or did not make solid contact, resulting in one of the other kids on the team making remarks that sort of mocked her. Kaitlyn was having none of it.
After the very first comment, Kaitlyn very nicely asked the boy to stop. When he did not, she became frustrated. Very frustrated. No sooner did he make the same remark a second time did Kaitlyn yell at him at the top of her lungs, “stop making fun of my friend. That is not very nice at all!” This was repeated multiple times, with Kaitlyn’s frustration growing with each request. At some point, I think the bo got the message because he stopped making comments at all.
I think if it had gone on any longer, Kaitlyn would have alerted one of the coaches (they seem to not really have a handle on what happens at practice and during games sometimes) to have them deal with it. One thing is for certain though, and that is that she established that she will not tolerate someone picking on her friend. The two of them balance each other out perfectly; where Kaitlyn is shy and socially awkward, her friend is the social butterfly who does not mind meeting new people. They have become closer throughout this school year, even though they are not in the same class again.
Kaitlyn seems to have found a new hobby. It doesn’t really replace anything, just sort of adds to the list of things that she just has to do, and has to do well.
Kaitlyn’s newest hobby is texting people. Specifically, she throughly enjoys texting her “big sister” Jen. When she is not reading about Disney cruises, playing on the Wii, reading her Rainbow Magic books, or playing outside (still no swimming because the water is too cold and Kaitlyn is not happy about it), she is checking Amber’s phone for a reply from Jen. She likes to tell her about her day, and ask her how her day went, things like that. The other night, she even planned Jen’s visit to school for the two of them to have lunch. Kaitlyn was even nice enough to text Jen exactly what she wanted from Chick-fil-A (much to our surprise, she did not go with their nuggets, but with their regular chicken sandwich), including a milkshake (or as Kaitlyn wrote, “I call chocolate, with whipped cream and a cherry on top!”).
I’ve been on the receiving end of a few of her texts as well, and they are always well-written and have correct punctuation, spelling, and grammar. For Kaitlyn, there are no shortcuts when it comes to sending her message. She texts in complete sentences and does not use shorthand at all. She even signs her texts so that the person she is texting knows it was her and not Amber (she puts “Love, Kaitlyn” at the end).
What is keeping me from worrying too much about Kaitlyn’s fondness for texting at such a young age is the fact that she loves hand-writing letters to people. She writes Amber and I notes all the time, and she recently sent out her first fan letters to her two favorite bands (groups?). So while the art of actually putting pen to paper is lost on so many these days, Kaitlyn still gets a thrill out of writing her own letters. We are keeping an eye on this texting thing though, and it will be quite some time before she has her own phone to text from (I am not looking forward to the days of having to remind her that she is not supposed to retreat to her room with the door closed with her cell phone in hand.).
Kaitlyn puts a lot of pressure on herself, especially when it comes to playing T-ball. I think she tries so hard because she does not want to disappoint me since I played or coached baseball for nearly 20 years. What she does not seem to realize is that there is nothing she can do on the baseball field that will disappoint me; I just enjoy going out there and watching her.
Before the season, I took Kaitlyn on a shopping spree of sorts, and let her pick out some new baseball gear. She picked out her pants, her belt, her cleats (although they did not have the pink ones that she wanted), some batting gloves, and her new glove (it looks a lot like the one in the picture). Since that shopping spree, she has gotten a batting tee and a bat (pink) so that we can practice in the backyard, and has already scored a new pair of cleats in Dodger Blue (her first pair got small quick and were hurting her feet).
After her first few games, Kaitlyn was pretty disappointed in how the game went. Even though she hit the ball great, she was upset that she had not had an opportunity to field any batted balls on defense. To her, she was not the best on the field until she had the chance to prove it on defense (she’s pretty smart, since teams with a solid defense and good pitching almost always do well).
I was a little upset that there was a good chance that I would miss this past Saturday’s game. I had to work until noon, and with her game starting at noon, there was not much of a chance that I would be able to get there to see much of the game. We were able to get out pretty quick, so I made the decision to head over to the field to catch what I could of Kaitlyn’s game. And I am glad that I did.
As I was walking up, I noticed that she was rounding the bases for her home run (she batted last the first time around and got to circle the bases without stopping). Excellent. I had not missed too much.
In T-ball, it is nothing short of a miracle if a batted ball is fielded cleanly by the first player it encounters, and even when it is, the throw almost never beats the runner to first base. But it sure is fun to watch.
I guess Saturday was the day for miracles. Kaitlyn fielded the two balls hit her way in one inning, and she was able to fire the ball to first to get the runner out. That’s right, she had two assists on defense (the team actually recorded three outs in that inning). Our little girl turned out to be a Gold Glover the other day. It made my day to see how proud she was of herself and how happy she was. It was all she could talk about after the game while we walked to the car, and it was all that she could talk about on the ride home. Kaitlyn struggles a lot with her self-confidence, and Amber and I do the best we can to build her up. But the truth is that she is just really hard on herself. It is something we will have to monitor and manage as she get older, and we are aware of that fact. But for one day, Kaitlyn was on top of the world, and Amber and I were (and still are) proud of what she accomplished on the baseball field last Saturday.