The other day, Rachel and my other daughter had a day off of school, so I had the brilliant idea to take them to a pumpkin patch. I envisioned pictures with cute scarecrows, picking out a pumpkin, and snacking on fresh-roasted pumpkin seeds. I couldn’t wait to tell Rachel’s RDI and autism therapists of the fun we’d had and the great therapeutic things we’d done. So, a brave friend and I set out in her minivan with six kids in tow.

Ever had a time when things didn’t turn out the way you planned?

I’m not saying the day was all bad — not at all. When we finally found a pumpkin patch that was actually open, we had a lovely hay ride and swim through a pit filled with dried corn. I got some upper body workout by pulling the kids around in a wagon while looking for a pumpkin three times as expensive as the ones at the local Walmart, but, hey, I was supporting local agriculture. We learned all about not drinking from the water coming out of the portable potty sinks and why corn is not a good sock stuffing. We also had some great economic lessons: why we bring water from home instead of buying canned drinks marked 20 times higher than their grocery store price.

The trouble came when we all went to the park after the pumpkin patch. Rachel had a stellar time on the hay ride and in the corn pit, so we thought: it’s a beautiful day, why not go to the park?


Rachel had a wonderful time at the park. We even learned some more lessons, such as spatial awareness (i.e. why we no longer fit in baby swings). I had some more good upper body exercise while trying to extricate her from the baby swing. With Rachel’s help, I also managed to work in a few sprints.

The big trouble came when it was time to leave. Rachel and I had a slight disagreement that took us at full speed halfway around the lake trail. Have you ever dragged an angry autistic child up an incline, over a rickety wooden bridge, and across a field? It didn’t work so well for me. Fortunately, I went with my awesome friend who saw my distress from across the field and herded the other seven kids into her van (we’d picked up a few more on the way to the park). She drove down the trail, grabbed my keys, sprinted to my car (fortunately, she’s also a runner), brought my car back, and helped me battle Rachel into the car.

Rachel still didn’t agree with our plan, so we couldn’t get her into her seat. Finally, my friend strapped Rachel into her car and drove her to my house. It took the two of us to get her out of the van and into my house. After that, my friend snuck out the back door and took the other seven kids with her. Wow! Now that is a friend.

I can’t express how thankful I am for that friend. She is understanding and kind. And if it hadn’t been for her, I might still be at the park. What an awesome friend!