I feel compelled to post about Lucy’s first date and how I feel about it today. Because her second date is tonight, and it’s therapeutic for me to write down thoughts on the first “wave” before the second “wave” comes crashing on in.

You see, Lucy went on her “day-date” for MORP (casual girls’ choice “prom” hence the spelling is backwards…I know, funny, but it’s a thing). They do this “day-date” deal before the actual dance here in the desert. It’s a day filled with activities and fun leading up to the dance and it happened two weeks ago.

How a First Date when special needs are involved is scary

I’m still trying to navigate all this in my heart. It feels so big. When you’re traversing the often-tumultuous-waters of raising a child with special needs, things like this can be so overwhelming. Lucy is overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed. And all that “overwhelm-ment” can come out in interesting and sometimes not-too-glamorous ways. This is a huge step. Something deep that is somehow an important puzzle-piece to the maturation of this girl of mine.

Maybe I’m overthinking it. But maybe not. I’m teary thinking about how good it has been for Lu (and us!) to be in on this dance experience thus far. I am the first to admit that Dave and I are still as nervous as can be for all this. Lucy still doesn’t like boys, is socially delayed, hates big groups, isn’t afraid to make her opinion known and get huffy when things don’t go her way. She talks and chews really loud when she’s excited, oh there are a lot of things to be worried about. But I’m trying to let go and just enjoy this with her. To believe in her, because she sure as heck believes in herself! She’s got this!

I hope.

Preparation for the date…experience is golden

Even the preparation has been a huge learning curve for this girl of mine. I love that she gets to have the experience of being in a huge group text of the girls in her group trying to plan. The drama, the opinions even stronger than her own (unthinkable!), the working together, the planning for something big. It actually makes me cry to even think about the fact that she has given herself this chance. She’s strong enough to make it happen even when her parents have been so hesitant.

This is a very big deal.

I love to think about Lucy in the years leading up to this. Her quiet pondering as an “onlooker” watching carefully. Because this “asking” a boy to a dance was definitely not just on a whim. She has watched her sisters and friends navigate the “high school dance world” for years. I think of her carefully taking it all in. At first I imagine she couldn’t understand why anyone would do such a thing. I mean, paying a lot for a dress that proceeded to get practically ruined in the “mosh pit” of kids sweating together on the dance floor? No thank you. Paying your own hard-earned money to take someone else to that said mosh-pit? No thank you again.

I like to imagine how that brain and heart of hers worked and churned to get to the point of transforming all that “not-worth-it-hoopla” to somehow be “worth it” enough to invite her friend over to help her make a poster to do her own “asking.”

One day when Lucy got in the car after school leading up to the “day date” she had HAD it with that group text. I mean why couldn’t they make up their minds for crying out loud? How could there be so many opinions? Why the drama? I smiled and told her “Welcome to the club” of day-date-texting-drama.” I explained that’s what happens when a bunch of girls are trying to figure things out.

So grateful that she got to experience even that.

Deciding what to do for the date

The “figuring-out” was an ordeal because the girls wanted to go up to the mountains and sled in the snow. But one of the moms was really concerned about the road conditions and there weren’t enough drivers. This mom tried to pull me in to help change that plan or at least be an extra safe driver. But I am painfully aware that I don’t have any control of things like this with Lucy. It is so different from how it was with my older kids. They may have rolled their eyes from time to time when I gave opinions, but they mostly welcomed my help and involvement. I think Lucy can sense my worry and is trying so hard to break free. When I offered to be a driver she told me she wouldn’t go if I was there. Ha!

Oh I know she loves me, she just has such an unquenchable thirst for independence. She did ask me to take pictures for the group at one point (she texted and said “are you chill to take pictures for us?”) and I loved it. Although I guess someone nixed that and decided they need to hire someone and have each couple pay $20 for a professional. I can’t say I’m sad about that! But poor Lucy who really has never had to spend money on anything before, can’t understand why in heaven’s name kids would want a professional photographer when I would do it for free. Oh it’s all so good for her.

This is a huge dip into her bank account. So far we haven’t been able to figure out a job that will work for her. Having a severe visual impairment along with the other things that come with her syndrome really don’t work well for job skills. So this is tricky not only emotional, but financial business to maneuver! We have figured out some good jobs for her to do around the house and are pitching in some, but I’m telling you, it’s all just such a great opportunity for growth and learning.

For both of us!

The date itself

Ok, back to the “day date” where in the end they decided to go to an “illusion museum” (which I’m sure was quite strange for Lucy not being able to see, but she was there for it). I love these photos so much. Here’s Lucy ready to go, full of anticipation:

At the Illusion Museum:

This one is my favorite:

Pretty cool, right?

After the museum they went back to her friend Audrey’s house to have a spaghetti dinner and paint.

They taped multiple forks together and had to feed each other spaghetti across the table, hence the trash bag protection:)

Look at those smiles.

Especially that one on my daughter.

Makes my heart melt.

My thoughts about kind teenagers

Before ending, we must take a minute to talk about Audrey. Because I adore this girl. She is Dave’s cousin’s daughter and she and Lucy have grown up together. If you remember Lucy’s drawings when she used to see well enough to draw rooms filled with colors, they all included Audrey somehow.

Years have passed and recently Audrey has taken Lucy under her wing (after Lucy deliberately and not-too-sheepishly placed herself there). I don’t know why Lu decided she didn’t want to be in the group with the girls in our neighborhood (who are also such sweet girls and would have definitely included her). But Audrey somehow just felt so safe for her.

Let’s talk about Lucy’s date too. This kid who happened to be nice to her in her newspaper class years ago. Who was kind enough to her back then that she remembered. And felt safe enough to ask him to this dance. Even if she hadn’t seen him in a few years.

Makes me teary thinking about teenage kids who are in the process of figuring out who in heaven’s name they are, but are still willing to forget themselves enough to wrap their arms around someone who is different and struggling, and include them. No questions asked. This is not easy business. As a teenager you are trying to figure out your own space let alone helping some other strong-willed girl figure out theirs.

I also think about the parents of these kids. What did they do in raising them to help nurture that kindness? I mean, it’s one thing to be nice. But there’s a whole other level where “nice” becomes truly “kind.”

Phew! I had more to say than I thought.

Bottom line is that Lucy came home from her day date tired but so satisfied.

She had done something so far out of her comfort zone. And she had navigated it, with the help of other angel teenagers, quite beautifully.

She’s really doing this thing. Her first “date” under her belt.

Prayers for tonight!

Please send prayers that tonight will go well for these kids. I am sending up some pretty strong ones. Anxiously hoping that things will go smooth, and that it will be another great learning experience for this good group of kids.

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  1. Oh boy, you’ve inspired us with our own special needs 22 year old son who has pretty severe autism. He attends a technical school and at parent/teacher conference, his teacher mentioned that he likes a girl in the next class over and she likes him back. They attended elementary school together and liked each other then, and came back together at this technical school. Her mother is now an aide in my son’s class.

    For Valentines day, I made up a poster (with the gummy bears) for my son to ask her to prom. and wrote her mother a letter to see if they were game for this and she was on board! The dance is in a month and my husband and I and this girl’s parents are going to go together with them. It is a first date for both. What an adventure! Thank you for the vulnerability, I think these life experiences are good to have!

    1. Oh this is so sweet, I love that he asked her to prom, and I LOVE that you and your husband are going to go with them. I’d love to hear how it goes!

  2. Lucy is amazing!!! I’m sending prayers!
    And thank you for having such a big heart, ready to see the goodness in people!! I love how you celebrate the kindnesses of others! You have a gift for it. And those teenagers looked like the nicest group of humans! Xoxo

  3. Being the youngest in a family of 4 older siblings, three of them sisters, I always struggled to try and fit in the way they did in high school. All 3 girls were popular, on all kinds of committees, make-up, hair and clothes perfected each day, phone calls day and night, dates, football games and countless parties. I took it for granted that things would just sort of happen that way for me automatically. But it didn’t. At least not quite in the same way. I wasn’t as outgoing or nearly as self assured as my sisters. Deep down, I was embarrassed that I wasn’t turning into the social butterflies that my sisters were. My high school years were from’78-81, which was a strange time. Kind of the end of an easy going “freedom” thing and into a serious drug time. At least at our school it was. But not for me. And I was scared. I wanted no part of that. I wanted to plan a future and be someone special. So I chose to step back and stay quiet and hope that these 4 years would end fast! All I ever wanted was to turn out like my sisters, and make everyone proud of me. So I missed out on a lot of things. I wish I would’ve had the kind of determination that Lucy has. I love that she can make sense of who she is and what she wants. She’s no wimp. I always wonder if she struggles with the sister thing herself. I hope she doesn’t feel as cheated as I did that I didn’t get to live the life of my sisters. And the more I’ve seen her grow on this blog, the more I see her strength and bravery and fierceness to be her own person instead of someone else, the more I see that she probably doesn’t spend a lot of time crying over the whole “Why can’t I be like them?” thing.
    Lucy is an awesome young lady and is really going to do something special.

    1. Oh I’m so grateful for this comment. I wish you and Lucy could go to lunch or something. I do think she has so much of the “why can’t I be like them?” thing going on, and that is really hard. She wants to do everything her sisters have done just like you did. But she does have some determination when she decides she really wants to do something and I think that does help her a lot. I just wish I could help her fix things sometimes. She jsut wants to be a “normal” kid which sends her into so much sorrow sometimes when things don’t happen the way she envisions them. That’s why this dance was such a good learning curve for her.

      I just really appreciate your insights, and the encouragement you give to keep that determination going. This girl is going to go places. There’s just so much “background” work to do to help her live out her dreams as she envisions them, and also a lot of reevaluating and sorrowful disappointments for her along the way when things just cant work like she wants them to work.

      Not sure if that all makes sense, but I just really appreciate you sharing. And I hope that by now you are feeling that you have overcome some of those tough things you went through trying to keep up with your sisters. If you have any other words of wisdom for me or Lucy we’ll gladly take them!

  4. Your comment about jobs that could you work for Lucy made me think of this podcast episode. My sister has a podcast and she recently interviewed her colleague in the school of nursing at BYU who has navigated her blindness with some pretty amazing mantras. I highly recommend it. It was SO inspiring to me and might give you some interesting thoughts to continue navigating this life. I have been so blessed by some of the resources you have shared over the years, I thought I could return the favor. It is short. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/every-body-with-kristen-erekson/id1710255074?i=1000643540894

  5. Lucy you are an awesome! You are so brave, courageous, beautiful, bright, and inspiring! Have a wonderful time at your dance tonight!

    I am sending and prayers for all of you!

  6. This is very sweet – also appreciate others’ experiences in the comments. Sending good thoughts to Lucy and friends.

  7. This is a stunning report of all the wild emotions that went into this fun event! I love that this day date turned out so fun! That girl is so inspiring! She never ceases to amaze us in so many ways!

    Give her a hug from me

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