Contributor: Lamont Daniel
I love my new wife like the first time I heard her voice, read one of her stories on SSC, or saw her picture. Let’s be honest, we had an anything but normal courtship. Since the beginning, we were forced to be creative in finding different ways to be together.
Here’s our backstory. My wife moved to Nevada right around the same time a mutual interest for each other bloomed. I live in the Bay Area or Northern California. With these logistics, you learn to be creative, as planning date night with two grade school kids and one special teenager can be quite a challenge.
As a newly married couple and on this one particular night, date night should have gone off without a hitch. We did our due diligence by spending time with the smaller kids and having family movie night, which turned into an impromptu history/geography lesson for the kids. My wife made burgers, we cleaned up, and watched the younger kids get drowsy. Our eyes lit up with anticipation, could we really pull this off? Is everyone going to sleep at the same time on a Friday night so that we can have some “adult time?” The answer… not just yet.
CJ, our special teenager decided it’s time for some attention. CJ strolls out of his room with his ever-present sippy cup, waiting for his usual 5-star service, and we oblige. He should be good for the rest of the evening. At least that’s what we think. Date night here we come!
The condo community we reside in has a pool about 100 steps from our door. We can easily let the kids sleep, walk over, and have a 30-minute jacuzzi session….in theory. My beautiful wife goes and preps for the “adult time” and comes out in her black and white cheetah print swimsuit and her long flowing locs are pent up. She definitely has my attention. We grab some “adult beverages” and make our way to the jacuzzi. Now don’t think we have not put safety measures in place. We take our smartphones, call each other, put them on speakerphone, and BAM we have instant baby monitors. We leave one phone on the kitchen counter and take the other with us to monitor movement in the condo. We are actually about to pull this off.
We get to the gate of the pool and I cannot make this up, as soon as we use the access card to gain access to the pool, I can hear the unmistakable noise my son makes when he found freedom in the kitchen. Now if you know CJ, leaving him in an unguarded kitchen is just asking for trouble. So, we sprint back to the place like Allyson Felix and Usain Bolt, only to be greeted by our son, about to make it happen in the kitchen. Yes, we make a mad dash to protect the food because the frig is fully stocked from our grocery store trip earlier in the day. It’s open season for CJ.
As if that’s not enough, CJ likes to pull his incontinence briefs to shreds and leave the ripped-up diaper pieces as a trail so we can find them. We’d like to think he leaves them behind just in case he gets lost (yeah right). My wife and I go straight into clean-up mode, she on diaper duty and me on clean-up duty. I sweep the rubbish into a pile and get everything ready to pick-up with the dust pan. Now where is the dust pan so we can get back to date night? Where did I put that damn thing? I must have thrown it away while taking out the trash earlier in the evening in eager anticipation for date night. My wife says “we can just buy another one from Dollar Tree” and my cheap self says, “I’ll check the trash bag, no worries.” In my head the bag is at the very top of the dumpster and easy to retrieve.
I get to the dumpster, select the winning bag, I open it and grab for the dust pan. I immediately regret my choice when I find the inside of a recently discarded diaper and not the dust pan. I am mortified, but I can’t do anything but chuck up the dust pan as a loss and immediately scream and run in the house to submerge my hands in water and quickly sanitize them. My wife stifles her laughter, but I know she is laughing deep down inside.
We don’t give up! We both decide it’s time for another attempt at the jacuzzi. CJ is now good in the room with a fresh diaper and juice. This time I added an extra barrier between CJ and the kitchen and we are back to the jacuzzi. At this time, the wife and I notice there is a summer storm brewing in Vegas and warm big raindrops are falling, but we are both determined to get in the jacuzzi at all cost. After all, it is Vegas so the rain is basically a warm shower. Three minutes into jacuzzi time it rains a little harder and then lightning strikes. Yep jacuzzi time is now officially over, finito, done.
Before exiting the jacuzzi from our three-minute jacuzzi date, my wife and I say at almost the same exact time “hey at least we tried.” That is the thing about marriage and parenting a child with special needs. You must always try. The beauty of our marriage is that we appreciate the unknown and every moment is precious.
This is a journey that we are walking together holding hands every step of the way. We are parents of 6 amazing kids with our special CJ at the center of it all — in age and as our family focus. Funny how he is at the epicenter of our world and he could care less, because as long as he has Hawaiian Punch and cheese puffs, he is alright in the world.
Here’s to another date night in the books! Here’s to embracing the unknown!