Table for Three, Please (parenting an adult son with special needs)

We thought our retirement years would allow for some nice romantic dinners for 2 and while it wasn’t where we saw ourselves in our early marriage, somehow all these years later, we think a romantic dinner for 3 works for us.

We’ve come to realize that sometimes, if we want to get out for dinner, we simply must make the effort to go, and take our adult son with special needs along. It wasn’t plan A, but it is now!

Recently, while away from home (our son traveling with us) we received two lovely dinner invitations and needed to mention our son would need to join us. One of the couples was so gracious to invite him along. They went out of their way to request what would make Joey most comfortable, what movies they could have available for him, and other very thoughtful questions to make our time with them as special as it was. We had the most delightful time as couples while Joey was entertained by a fun movie just for him!

After our time together we received this lovely note,

“We so enjoyed having the 3 of you come for dinner. Please know that Joey is welcome in our home any time and that we love you all dearly!”

You may be reading this thinking, “My young child with special needs could never do that!” Well, at 5, neither could Joey. It’s taken years of training for him to have very nice table manners, to remain quiet and polite, and to sit patiently until we’re finished. He’s an adult (almost 35). It didn’t happen overnight (and for some of you, this may never come to pass), and we know there will be times when we’ll experience a meltdown (it happens) but we enjoy the moments that go well!

We’ve come to realize that not everyone gets our idea of romance: dinner for 3, or adding Joey to another dinner couple to make it 5. Some people may not feel comfortable with our children with special needs and some won’t try. But some do. And for those that do, we are most grateful. When I read that note, my heart was blessed. I know Joey was loved, cared for, and welcomed.

And I’ll take that romantic dinner for 3 or a group of 5 anytime!