This is just one picture of one of the most beautiful playgrounds I have ever seen. And it is only minutes from our house. And it hokds extra special meaning to our family and our school family. It is called Angel Park. They began the major planning for this playground when my daughter was in kindergarten. Her class got to be one of two classes that got to draw ideas for their dream playground and actually have input in the elements of this playground. And the reason for this is because the entire concept behind this playground came from a family that attends the church and school where my daughter goes. There was a family that lost their son at 15 months old to Leukemia. Their son would have been about 21 years old now. It took quite some time from conception till the park was finally ready. They built this from almost, if not all, donated funds and labor. They took many things in to special consideration including elements for autistic, handicap and children with cochlear implants. It is the most beautiful, colossal and all inclusive playground I have ever come across in my 40 years on this Earth. We bought a fence picket while it was being built so our last name will always be a part of the park as well. I feel blessed to have seen this playground being built from the beginning and to have had a small part in it. I wish I would have been able to contribute more.
Each time we come here though, I am always leary of what awaits me. The first two times we came, my daughter, who is 10 and has Asperger’s Autism, hurt herself, significantly enough to ruin her time here and cause us to have to leave. The first time even required a trip to the walk in clinic because she sprained her finger, they even thought it could have been fractured and had to call me back on the Monday morning when a radiologist could read it.
Other times she’s had a great time, met other kids here that she didn’t know and made friends with them, which is always refreshing with her autism, because I never know how she will interact with other kids since she has such a hard time socially at school. I’ve taken a friend of hers and her cousin to go with her before. But today wasn’t one of the good days.
She got there claiming she wanted to try going down the fire pole, something she hadn’t been able to bring herself to do yet due to her fear of heights. She got up there and still couldn’t. After that she immediately tried the monkey bars and everything else that require upper body strength which she knows she can’t do and then stood there and berated herself, throwing an angel sized tantrum. Sometimes I swear she enjoys wallowing in self pity more than she enjoys being happy. Because even when I complimented her later when she came over and told me that she figured out how to mount the zip line on her own and I told her that was great and good for her, she followed that by, it’s really not anything that big….so even when I try to be encouraging and complimentary, she won’t follow my positive lead. It is beyond frustrating and I just don’t know how to help her when she refuses to help herself.
I try to take her the places she asks me to take her, I play the games she asks me to play with her, and somehow, things end up negative, because she always ends up putting a negative twist on everything. It is so disheartening. I try so hard and still feel like I am failing her. It is hard enough trying to fix my own mind from those who DID fail me and still are failing me, and some days it takes everything I have to step outside of myself to be there for her, and I am trying to give her a positive childhood experience, where I didn’t have one because mine purposely went out of their way to cause me pain, and even though I might not always be as engaging as I could or should be, and I might not always be the most playful or over involved parent, I do go out of my way to be there for her and to make things NOT negative for her, but she lives to do that herself and I feel guilty for all of this. I just don’t know what else to do for her. I have done all the research, we’ve tried many different things medication combinations, we’ve tried different therapies, I’ve tried many different home methods, I’m constantly amending my parenting methods to try what the experts say is best for kids with Asperger’s. I still feel lost and hate that she never seems happy. The climate in our house is always one of depression. I am trying so hard to break out of my 3 year depression and it makes it very hard when I am constantly surrounded by the door and gloom attitudes and the gray rain cloud that hangs over this house. I just don’t know what else to do to help everyone here. I’m trying to work on me and hoping they will follow suit. But so far, not seeing that happen. I refuse to be swallowed back down though. Somehow, people will have to catch up to where I am in life or they will get left behind in one way or another. I just don’t know what else to do. I can’t stay stuck anymore…..the tears of this angel that are being held back today are for those that I am afraid are not ready still to fly with me.