Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eat Across America

As I discussed earlier this year in my travel advice, we had some minor issues getting to Orlando for our vacation over Christmas. We didn't just have the expected issues related to not traveling as one would expect. Mister Man's Asperger's reared its head, and he had a really hard time with the change in plans.

He didn't understand why the airplane didn't get us there this time the way it had before. He couldn't comprehend or accept not getting to Orlando until Tuesday afternoon when we'd originally been scheduled to arrive Saturday (thank you, United!). Even when we made the decision on Sunday morning to rent a car and drive the remaining distance, we still wouldn't be there close to when Mister Man anticipated.

And he was having a hard time with it. His world was thrown into chaos, and as parents, my husband and I couldn't even tell him for certain when we'd arrive or what would happen along the way. He started to break down.

Somehow - somehow, and I suspect there was a minor miracle in the works - I stumbled upon something that distracted Mister Man from the disaster of our travel and instead turned it into an exciting adventure where he had something to look forward to.

I introduced Eat Across America.

He had eaten in the Milwaukee airport before we departed - just a small snack, but something nonetheless. He breakfast in Chicago before we departed for Reagan. He had a snack at Reagan while we waited to figure out what we were going to do next (gotta keep his energy level even to keep him regulated). And then we planned to stop to eat in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida on our road trip. On our way back, we had a connection in Detroit where I also promised him that I'd let him have lunch before we headed to Milwaukee.

His eyes grew big. Mentally, he started counting the states he'd get to eat in (nine - because I'm letting him count DC as a "state") compared to the total states in existence. And a smile started to grow across his face. As he bounced and stimmed, he excitedly talked about how he'd be the only one he knew who'd eaten in so many places and how he'd tell his friends about it when he got back to school.

He was a happy boy. Thank goodness.

And we did succeed in eating in each of those states - aided, I might add, by the ice storm that had gone through North and South Carolina, forcing us to unexpectedly stop for the night. Since that moment, I haven't heard one more complaint about the travel booking failure from him. He wasn't miserable, and we were able to move forward and have fun in Florida.

He's also eaten in Missouri, and his goal in life now is to eat in all fifty states. How fun is that? My mom is already planning a day trip with him to Indiana so he can eat there. I'm not sure how many states I've eaten in, but there aren't too many I've missed (Alaska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Maine come to mind). How many states have you eaten in?

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Pat January 6, 2011 at 2:59 PM  


I think that's all. When our kids were young, we took several road trips.

What a great way to distract your son from his distress of things not going according to the plan!

Tara R. January 6, 2011 at 4:25 PM  

Let's me see... TN, FL, KY, OH, MI, NY, AL, GA, NC, VA, WV, TX, LA, AR, DC, MD, MS, IL, SC.

That was a very clever way to refocus Mister Man, and he has a great story to tell his friends.

Kori January 6, 2011 at 4:52 PM  

I have been to 23 states so would assume I ate something in each one of them, ha ha. What a great idea, a good way to keep him focused on something besides the uncertainty.

Susie January 6, 2011 at 8:55 PM  

That's our plan for our retirement:-)

Karen January 7, 2011 at 7:25 AM  

We LOVE eating across America! We've traveled across it twice (kinda sorta) and have eaten in well over 30 states. What an awesome concept to introduce to the little ones. Genius.

Pat January 7, 2011 at 11:33 AM  

Oh, I left out Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri and Colorado. I was baptised at age 3 months in Colorado in 1948 when my parents were on their way to California from Indiana (job change), so I assume my mother fed me there while they were staying with my dad's parents in Denver. So that makes 32 states! I didn't realize I'd been in so many states.

I hope Mister Man eventually eats in every state!

septembermom January 9, 2011 at 6:20 PM  

I need to travel so badly. I've been to 4 states NY, NJ, CT and FL. I have a lot to catch up on. Great picture of Mister Man.

Joanna Jenkins January 9, 2011 at 7:11 PM  

Genius!!!! I'll be using that idea the next time I'm stuck in an airport heading cross country.

Glad things worked out. I know how hard it is to explain changes in plans when expectations are firmly in place.

Happy New Year, jj

Michelle January 9, 2011 at 7:45 PM  

Pat - Oh that's a great list. And I see a few more I forgot - Vermont for sure! And yeah, I sure hope your mom fed you while you were in CO ;)

Tara - He's so loving telling his friends about this, and fortunately they think it's pretty awesome.

Kori - I love how you have your count of states right there! I'm pretty sure I've eaten in just about every state I've been to, as well.

Susie - I like your plan. I may tag along ;)

Kelly - Travel is fun, but ... there's plenty of fun stuff to do just where you live though, right?

Joanna - Hmmm are you using it for yourself there? ;) It is so hard to get small kids to understand change. Fortunately our next flight with them is a nonstop!

Lisa Noel January 11, 2011 at 1:19 PM  

I've got a ton to go but I have eaten in Alaska, I even had moose sausage at the top of some high peak in the Anchorage area.

I can't imagine dealing with that kind of delay with any child really but much kudos to you to making lemonaide out of some nasty ole lemons.

Michelle February 2, 2011 at 9:46 PM  

Lisa - I love it! How was the moose sausage? As for the delay side, there's sorta no choice, so you do what you need to in order to make the child you love happy.

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