In life we must give things up at a relentless pace as we grow older and having Asperger’s does not make things easier because one of the most challenging aspects of this condition is the inability to let things go. I no longer have time to write people long-winded birthday cards and even my favorite pastime of skating the night away at Hyde Park Roller Magic has been usurped by adult responsibilities. Therefore, it becomes ever the more special when we seize back what has been lost whenever possible. If I cannot give up adult responsibilities or childlike whims of fancy then perhaps it is possible to combine the two entities.
I work with an incredible co-worker named, Tannequa (whose name I probably misspelled). Her little 3-year-old boy had his third birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s by the South Hills Mall and it was on a weekend when there was a lot to get done. (Actually…every weekend entails A LOT to get done!) I had heard that one of his passions is Sponge Bob Squarepants that transcends all ages and boundaries. Therefore, I made a choice to purchase him a DVD from Amazon.com featuring Sponge Bob episodes that are Halloween-related. Little snippets of benign horror that I thought would be perfectly appropriate for a little boy who was just barely out of the Kingdom of Toddlerhood. And that is one thing…understood!
For a second, it was tempting to merely attend to these adult responsibilities and call it a night. I could give her the belated gift at work in two days and it would not make much of a difference. But at the last minute it was my choice to make a pilgrimage to Chuck E. Cheese’s and devoted my time toward giving a little boy his fantastical birthday.
Unfortunately, the rest of the world caved into their adult responsibilities and neglected to show up. There were no guests except for myself. I scanned the arcade for a semblance of the games, which speckled those moments of my childhood when it felt like I was in Seventh Heaven. And they were no where to be found. Pac Man…Donkey Kong…Pinball Machines with a labyrinth of surprises…are practically obsolete. The only pinball machine was a sad eyesore that was “Out of Order.” They have been replaced by arcade games of chance whose reward comes in the form of a couple of tickets. His mother and I got to work trying to win as many tickets as possible while finding games that were appropriate for his skill level. The one game that really paid off was Sponge Bob Squarepants where all Trayvon had to do is drop a fake coin to land on the green part of Sponge Bob Squarepants and not the lesser characters like Squidward. Apparently…the pitifully cheap prizes cost about five hundred tickets and we only had about 150 tickets. I contributed two dollars of my own money to cover the difference and little Trayvon walked away with his Sponge Bob Pick-up Sticks in a state of gimlet-eyed bliss.
The euphoria and magic were present for all of us and I will try to remember this whenever the adult world threatens to take away all that is left. Someday I will return to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. And I have reserved Roller Magic for my 31st Birthday at the end of March. On Halloween I will also stay up all night long to carve my Jack O’Lanterns and even Trick-or-Treat to a few houses that “know me.” Better yet…perhaps I will have a good excuse to engage in these age-inappropriate pastimes. The purpose will be, of course, to give another little boy an amazing birthday and because I made a promise.
The birthday party caps an incredible few months working alongside Tannequa in the kitchen of Anderson Center for Autism (ACA). She has been an incredible help and even gave me a piece of those childhood days of yore back. Tannequa has my phone number and may give me a phone call anytime she needs an extra seat filled for another birthday celebration!