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Tuesday, 10 April 2012 05:44

Spring Break, Spring Break

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Last week my daughter had spring break from school. She goes to school around the corner and up the hill. All over my town there were families wandering around mid-day, the regular tie-wearing lunch crowd being squeezed over by kids aged five to thirteen. The grocery store was a mad house of frantic moms and gangs of children roaming the aisles. My daughter and I went out to lunch three times, saw a movie, visited Dad at work and cleaned out her dresser drawers. She went back to school this morning.

And now, because he goes to a non-public school in a different town, my son has this whole week off from school. While the weather won't be as nice this week, we have some outings scheduled, like the science museum, and already had some fun today going to Ikea.. he loves those meatballs.

Having kids on different schedules used to really throw me off, but I have a better expectation of what it looks like. I will enjoy the individual time I spent with each of my kids by the time this week is over. Of course, I will also have had 12 days of nearly non-work time, and some catching up to do. And there are little things that are a pain like balancing a kid who wants to sleep in on their break (Jack) with a kindergartener who must be walked to class.

And two school calendars means we didn't take a traditional spring vacation. Taking a kid out of school for vacation seems especially wrong given that the schools get paid based on student attendance, so a quick trip to Tahoe for Easter weekend was as far as we travelled.

I'm not sure though that we are a "tradional spring vacation" family even if we had both kids out of school at the same time (and had vacation time saved up and money to pay for a trip). I know there have been some families with special needs kids who have been successful on cruises, and we enjoyed a very short stay at Disneyland last year, but a lot of typical vacations sound very stressful to me.

Over the years we have had to continue to explore what it means for our family to vacation. We need more safety precautions, smoother surfaces to roll over, and easier exits than most families. We need cell service and gates. Jack's needs, which are our family's needs, make many vacation destinations off limits. Hanging about next to a pool crowded with people makes me queasy and a big ski trip would leave a quarter of us left out completely. 

All of those "nevers" and "no ways" have made room for us to figure out more clearly what we can do. We like national parks, and car camping even if we don't do it very often. And though we might never pack in 10 miles to a remote camp site, we can make it down a sand dune to a beautiful beach. We visit with family that lovingly prepares their home for our visits, locking gates and making cozy spots for our children. We will spend time at the Lake House this year, with its easy walk to swimming and soon-to-be-fenced-in back yard. And we will take day trips, that reach as far as we can drive and still be back by midnight.

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Dandelion is a free quarterly magazine that serves as a resource for Bay Area and Sacramento families of children with special needs: autism and Asperger’s, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, those who are blind, deaf, in wheelchairs, learning disorders, sensory issues and every special need in between. Dandelion’s mission is to create and empower a community of local families through a variety of media by providing a database of resources, trusted and thought-provoking editorial content, an up-to-date calendar of special needs-specific events, noteworthy news, as well as contributions to the community.