It’s known as 51/49 around here, and it refers to something being just barely more “fun” than “shit show”.
If my odds of having a successful mission are 51% then I am going for it. Those are the best odds I’m going to get. Ever.
I could label it an autism thing, or a three little boys things, but whatever it is, it’s my measuring stick for attempting to have a life. And since I insist on actually leaving the house, it is my credo.
The beach is my current safest bet for a pandemic outing with three autistic kids under 12. We have a window of 2 hours to get from the house, to our destination, unload, get the fun/tantrums in, pack it in, and get home. Any longer and mission failure is assured.
Assume there is an hour of prep time during which everyone to runs around, yelling, refusing to do things, then finally doing the things, while I prepare four people to leave the house. A backpack remains at the ready with cups and snacks, masks and wipes, and first aid supplies. Throw in water and towels. Slather sunscreen on little people with sensory issues. Yell more. Get in the car!
Let’s start the clock!
We are fortunate to live a quick 15 minute drive from an amazing beach. This is key.
Crank music so I cannot hear inane questions and can send fervent prayers to the Goddess of street parking.
Park! That! Mini-van!
Somehow unload beach toys and life vests, survival backpack, and 3 masked children.
Weave around blankets and surfers and tents to the far end of the beach where there is an estuary that appeals to those who like waves, those who are afraid of waves, and those who like to chase birds. Sorry birds. You can fly so I’m going to assume you can escape my kids.
Toes in the water.
We’re probably at an hour now.
Aaaaaaand, the fighting commences.
I have packed incentive snacks that I reference repeatedly as I urge people to control themselves and behave well enough to earn them. It’s all about the carrot, people. (The carrot is usually donuts.)
I have learned that if I’m between the water and the beach blanket and 1 or more of the children are buried in the sand up to their necks that this is my best chance to enjoy my life for 10 minutes. I’m not joking.
Also, being buried counts as occupational therapy and digging burns calories. Double points.
I’ve got 30 minutes left. Time to “casually” inspire moat digging or shell searching or bird chasing while I suck in all of those positive beach ions. I also have to glare at people not wearing masks who veer too close to my brood. I have an epic glare.
When the smallest imp has destroyed the diligently built sand structure or has kicked sand in someone’s face, I start to pack it all in. Have I mentioned that efficiency is critical?
It’s time to march those sandy bodies back across the beach and heave ourselves into permanently sandy car seats. Bust out the wipes! Donuts out! Music back on!
I get 15 minutes of driving to pretend that it was worth all of the effort as I steer us back towards suburbia.
And it was. 51% worth it.