We attended the regional Williams Syndrome Association picnic yesterday. Since it was in Connecticut, we made a weekend of it and stayed at a hotel with a pool, mini golf, bumper boats, and go-carts. We spent Saturday doing all of the above. Jamie was in heaven! Clare was tired from a long day, but enjoyed herself in the pool. And sweet Simon slept through it all (except for his dip in the pool, which he hated!).
On Sunday, we headed over to the picnic after church. We went to morning Mass at a local church, the same church we went to when we attended the picnic two summers ago. Once again, we found ourselves in the middle of a congregation where our children were the youngest out of the ten children that were in attendance. The church was so quiet you could hear a pin drop - or our daughter passing gas in her diaper! After numerous "shhhs" to Jamie, pacifier-pluggings of Simon, and trips around the small church with Clare, the priest asked if there were any newcomers or visitors. Shawn and I looked at each other - I whispered to him that he had to introduce us because we were not inconspicuous at all and everyone there knew we were not regular parishioners. So he did, and the people were so sweet. The couple in front invited us to coffee and donuts. Although we may blend in better (or hide!) with our large, family-filled parish at home, there is something about the hospitality of a small country church as well.
The picnic was awesome. When we attended two years ago, we were still so new at this Williams syndrome stuff. Clare was only three months old, recently diagnosed, and her first cath was around the corner. To say it mildly, we were a tad overwhelmed. This year, we enjoyed every second. It was great to see families again that we remembered from other events. I finally got to meet one mom that had reached out to me in those early post-diagnosis days. Her daughter was a couple years older than Clare, and she looked just like I think Clare will look in a couple years. Cute as can be! The typical picnic fare of great food, sunny weather, pool fun, and a dinosaur singer was a blast for the kids and grown-ups alike. The WS aspect of the picnic was even better. I do not dread going to these events. The first time, I was very wary of what it would be like to meet other children with WS. It would be a glimpse into Clare's future, and I was not sure I wanted that. Sometimes that glimpse is still tinged with sadness, especially when meeting the adults with WS. But there is no predicting who Clare will be and what she will be like. I enjoyed being with the adults with WS simply because they are who they are. There are no false pretenses. There was one girl who followed me around - I think she was enamored with Simon (who isn't??) and he rewarded her with big, gummy, drooly grins. I heard about her boyfriend, school, and how she loves to swim. Shawn and I both had the chance to chat with many parents about their experiences and get some good tips on our upcoming trip to Louisville. These events remind me that we are not alone in this journey - there are many other parents we can connect with who have been or are going through many of the same things that we are.
The ride home was a long one, but we made it home after two bathroom stops, one dinner stop, much traffic, and chocolate chip cookies.