Saturday, March 26, 2016

Destination Prom... Chapter 4 We have a tux!

Last Monday, March 21st, was a big day on our calendar - both on our home and our "Prom Count Down" calendars...

The day, like everything in our lives, had been planned for quite awhile. I had talked with the wonderful staff at Di's Bridal about Parker (who, of course, they knew!) and they let me know we could do an after hours fitting to help reduce the stress and anxiety of this event. (Yes, "event" is a fitting word, most things outside of "our normal" fit the category of "event" and this is not an exception, it would take planning, preparing and the stars lining up for everything to go off without a hitch.)
After learning that we could do an after hours fitting, I worked with Rylee and Parker's friend, Drew, to find an evening when both of them plus Parker and I were all available (that was about as easy as it sounds, lol) and set up the appointment with the staff at Di's. March 21st, 2016.
In the time between making the appointment and the actual day, Parker and I spent time looking at different prom pictures to talk about "Tuxes" as he really wanted to just wear his nice pants and one of his favorite button up shirts and ties like he does for all other dances. We talked about how we can only get a tux at the special "Prom" store (yes, this would be a moment when I'm thankful that "Bridal" isn't one of his known sight words or I would have needed to figure out how to explain that!) because he really thought we should just be able to go uptown to J.C. Penney's and pick it out. We talked about how we are just going to "borrow" the tux because we don't need to buy it. Then, about a week before the fitting, I told him that they would need to measure him. I called back up to Di's for a quick run down on what and where they would be measuring so we could have a couple practice runs with it.
At home, with the measuring tape in hand I walked through all the places they would measure and why "so our pants fit right", "so our jacket fits right", so our "shirt fits right" ... I'm fairly certain he thought I was insane but he mostly humored me as we went through the steps.
A final check in with Rylee and Drew the day before and I wrote out the list for Parker:

  • School
  • Rylee will pick you up
  • 5 o'clock meet Drew at Prom Store
  • Stand nice while they measure
  • Try on pants
  • Try on jacket
  • Take pictures
  • Pay bill
  • Go home
This would be one of those great moments to point out that I am not perfect and even in my planning (or over planning) can make mistakes.  I knew that I was picking Parker up after school and then returning to work until 5. My name is green on the calendar for that day because it's a "Mom" day and I will be picking him up. However, on my list for him - I left off that detail.  Instead, it was written out just like I would if Grandma or Aunt Betty Gail were picking him up instead of me.  To say there was some disappointment to see me after school instead of Rylee picking him up would be an understatement. He handled it really well though :-) I reminded him that Rylee wouldn't be here until almost 5, that we would do our "normal" after-school routine: Pick up Allison, go home, have a snack, mom works THEN Rylee would be there and we would start his list. Thankfully he's accepted that I am not perfect and handled this "oops" pretty well. 

It wasn't our first change in plans for the evening.  It turned out that Rylee had a flat tire and therefore no car to drive Parker to the Prom store BUT she could get a ride to our house and ride with us - which was a perfect solution in Parker's eyes. (It also meant we would get to take Rylee home which he also approved of!)

We arrived at Di's at 5 as planned where Drew and Scott (Parker's dad) met us. Having Drew along was important, if Parker would get nervous, I would need a peer he trusted to model. That's Drew. He thinks the world of Drew and is always quick to listen to anything Drew recommends.  Like getting out of the van which Parker was hesitating on when we arrived.  His anxiety was about as high as I expected, I reminded him he needed to be big, this was a "high school" thing and if he was going to go to prom, we needed to get a tux.  With Drew and Rylee by his side, we went in. 

As we walked in, there were a couple of people finishing their purchase. As I smiled and said, "Hi" I watched out of the corner of my eye as Parker took in every detail of the store with dresses, tuxedos and pictures everywhere. While it was softly lit (which is perfect!), it was not something I had prepared him for walking into - I was not at all surprised when within a few seconds of walking into the store I saw Parker drop to the ground.

Dropping to the ground is a classic Parker move, sometimes it comes with snoring (because no one will notice or bother him if he's asleep on the floor), sometimes tears, sometimes with legs wildly kicking but usually just as an overwhelmed "oh wow - I need a minute and if I lay on the floor - no one will notice me and won't ask me to do anything" thought process.  

I leaned down to where he lay on the floor by my feet, just barely inside of the store and leaned down to tell him he needed to stand up. As I leaned down he asked for our friend Dan (you know, the one he likes to dress like) who was not able to make it that evening. I told him Dan couldn't come and  thought through a plan B as I was unsure for a minute if we'd be able to pull this off without Dan there. I calmly said, "If you are going to go to prom, then you have to get fitted for your tux. You have to wear a tux to go to prom. Please stand up." and with a quick nudge from Rylee and Drew - up he hopped, joining them at the table where the book of tuxes was laid out for them.

While Scott and Allison wandered through the dresses to give us some space, Rylee, Drew, Parker and I started to talk about what the choices were for him. (Honestly, it didn't matter Parker and I had already agreed he would wear whatever Rylee asked him to!) While the pictures were great, nothing is better than seeing something and on a display right near us was a mannequin wearing the striped orange vest and orange diamond pattern tie that we were looking at.  With that decided, it was time to start measuring. 

There was a slight giggle of hesitation when I told him he needed to stand up to be measured but he stood - a bit away.  I asked Drew to go show him how and as Drew walked closer instead of showing Parker what to do - he told him.  And, Parker did exactly as Drew had told him to. This,  although I think it sounds as I type it like it's not a great thing - was actually a HUGE thing and showed just how far Parker has come!  I was incredibly proud (of them both!).  Because of his Fragile X, Parker has always learned best from peer modeling. He learns faster from watching then doing.  This was big because it meant not only is Parker learning by watching his peers, but by listening to them too. That shows tremendous growth in Parker and also faith from Drew in what Parker could do.  It's great how well his friends know him!

So... we started - 

Rylee and Drew watching as Parker gets measured for his tux!

I stayed back a bit, watching from the distance - Rylee and Drew had this under control which was a great opportunity for me to take pictures :-)

Then we started trying things on!

With pants, jacket and one shoe on - I asked Parker to come out of the fitting room.... then asked him again.  A bit nervous that he wasn't going to come out, I said, "Rylee will come help you."  without missing a beat, (the amazing) Rylee stepped into the fitting room, holding out her elbow as we've practiced for him to loop his arm through, she said, "let's go" and with hands over his eyes... out they walked!

A couple more measurements to be sure everything would be perfect!

And then we asked for the dress that is like Rylee's, along with the vest and tie (which slips on, neither Parker or I knew what to think of a pre-tied tie!) and posed for some pictures :-)

"Don't tell Dan" 
 One hand in pocket and a super happy smile... it took all I had to not cry.  There is no way I will make it through prom without significant tears!

There is so much happiness in this one picture, I can't even put it into words!

 Back in our regular clothes, I remembered that we needed to teach Parker a new way to stand and pose for prom pictures (thanks to our practice where I discovered he's only posed with his arm flung over someone's shoulder!).

Thanks to Drew and Rylee's guidance, we did our first (of what will be many) prom picture practice poses.

Such a natural!
And, of course, a picture with Rylee and Drew, such incredible friends who make a very positive difference in Parker's life!  They are amazing examples of what friendship and acceptance really is. We are so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives.  Parker, the most blessed of all. 

Drew, Rylee and I talked as Parker told his dad goodbye about what's next (practicing for Grand March) and steps we already have in place for Grand March.

The question was asked, "Do I think Parker will drop to the ground during Grand March?"  For the first time, no, I wasn't. Parker will be surrounded by typical peers, none of who drop to the floor. He will be wearing an incredibly awesome tux and have Rylee by his side and Drew not too far behind him. I have every confidence that after we practice, when the day comes (less than a month now!) he will confidently walk across the auditorium stage under the lights with Rylee on his arm.

I've always believed he could do it but after seeing him in the tux with Rylee by his side - I knew... we've got this! I'm fairly certain I won't be the only one shedding tears of incredible pride when it happens either. The countdown to prom continues :-) 

More practicing ahead as we get closer to the big day - stay tuned!

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