We went on a safari. Yesterday we woke up even earlier than the kids to drive out to Pilanesburg, which is a game reserve about 2 and a half hours from where we live. I wasn’t holding out much hope of success. We’ve done a few self-drives before, and the kids just got bored in the car. Now with driving for hours on top of driving for hours…I didn’t see that they’d be in the best of moods.
I wondered if we were ready.
Cubby likes giraffes, and along with zebras, we seem to have had lots of opportunities to see them. I wondered if he was even bothered any more.
As for Pudding, well- it isn’t like you see Hello Kitty on safari. She hasn’t shown much interest in animals at all.
It was a hot day, so we smeared on the sunscreen to the disgust of both kids- but tactile defensiveness doesn’t defeat African sun.
I’d hoped to set up my tripod on the seat next to me, but Pudding soon let me know that she was sitting next to me and nowhere else.
Was it going to be worth it?
Then we started moving. Maybe it was the bumping of the safari vehicle that appealed to her senses, maybe it was the warm African wind blowing in her face…perhaps both…but Pudding was happy. Not content. Not just smiling. Whole body fizzing in excitement. Her feet were stamping, her arms were flapping, she was shaking with glee. It was sheer joy- and as always when I get to witness such perfection- I was grateful that she feels in such a way that the whole world gets to share it with her.
Just movement and wind- we hadn’t seen an animal yet.
Just inside the game park, the ranger came to a halt. I wonder how she’d react but she took it in her stride. The ranger wanted to know what animals everybody wanted to see. The kids at the front requested lions. Cubby requested giraffes- I guess he still likes them.
I asked Pudding which animals she wanted to see. Silence.
I still sometimes take that silence as a lack of response. I should know better. After a few seconds, she knew what she wanted: an animal that we hadn’t seen yet on any of our self-drives.
And what do you know? Right after some impala, we got to see some hippos. Most were submerged in the water, cooling off from the hot day. But there was a baby hippo just standing by the shore.
Meant to be- just like someone else I know. We lasted out three hours and took in elephants, lions, zebras and lots more. Yes, we were ready, and yes, it was worth it.
I’m supposed to be writing a post about autism awareness today, and I have nothing. This girl hasn’t changed who she is. This world hasn’t changed for her. But she is taking on more and more of it, and I feel along with her every fizzy, frothy sensation of glee just for being here.
Watch out world- aware or not- here we come!