Bowling. When our family first tried it a few years ago, I was hesitant. Peter is so unsure of loud noises and bowling alleys felt like a landmine with every strike serving as another explosion to his senses. Why even go? I had learned long before bowling that I couldn’t make the decisions about what Peter could handle and could not. We had an escape plan, if Peter couldn’t take it, one of us would stay with the girls and one of us would take Peter out of the alley.
Peter spent part of the day holding his ears, but he liked bowling. In fact, so did many of his friends from class, who had quite a few birthday parties at the alley. We parents marveled how they grew, going from having to be cajoled for every shot to keeping track of the scoreboard and cheering each other on.
Bowling quickly became one of our family’s long break activities. One thing I could never be sure about is the people we encounter each time we go to the alley. On our trip last week, we had one of those good days. We shared a lane with another family so Peter’s volume was not all that noticeable. On the lane to our other side there were a couple of teenage boys that obviously take bowling very seriously. Their tosses had polished speed, and the scoreboard kept lighting up with strikes and spares.
Peter is not good about walking in a straight line, which means after each shot he has the potential of drifting into other lanes. I had Bill stationed at the end of the alley to keep Peter on a path. At one point, we missed and he drifted into the teens’ alley. That was the potential for disaster, as the young man had to stop his approach mid run. The boys were gracious and understanding.
Their reaction meant we did not have to run from the alley at the end of the game. We moved even closer to Peter to keep him in his lane and we made sure to thank the boys at the end of their game. Others do not realize that their simple reaction in terms of mean or kind makes a huge difference to children like Peter and their families. We had a great day, but if that one shot had gone differently our day would have been ruined and we would have to reconsider bowling as a family activity. This way, we just had to adjust how to get Peter to walk in a straight line.
It takes Peter more time than other children to put all the pieces of any activity together. Often the interaction with people is the most difficult piece. Many times, those other people make all the difference.