Emotions can be a minefield for anyone. But for Mr. Pants they are still pretty confusing. I don't talk about his sensory processing or development here on the blog much anymore. Not because his struggles are gone, but because they are just normal for us now. If you are new to reading this blog you may not know that hisexperience of his senses
is different from yours and mine. His processing and integration of them is different. Unique. Designed for him, by him. And I gotta say, he's kind of nailed it. He is mostly a very comfortable kid.
Recently, though, he has become increasingly stressed by new, loud or busy situations. The upside to his discomfort is that he is finding ways to deal with it. It's an upside because life is big and noisy and change-y. So he needs to discover for himself how best to cope with it. And as his parents we need to allow for him to explore the possibilities without pushing too hard. Instead we gently nudge him out of the comfort zone so that he can do the work he needs to do. We don't force him into uncomfortable situations that don't matter in the long run. Ya know, like a monster truck show. I'm not gonna take him to one of those. Because there are plenty of uncomfortable situations that he does have to figure out. Like gym class. Or coffee hour between church services (see below).
At his I.E.P. meeting
last week they once again told us that he is a solitary little guy and won't initiate play with the kids at school. And I know why. It all comes down to those pesky emotions. It's because he likes the predictability of playing alone. Playing alone allows for him to control the environment and for him to feel safe. Playing alone is not confusing. See he needs to be able to predict as much as possible especially if he is away from his comfort zone (our home). He is still trying to read our emotions and fully understand them so it's too much for him to try and read the kids at school all at once, too. Heck, he's still figuring out his own
emotional responses to life. He needs alone time and he takes it whenever he needs it. He's amazingly self aware for an almost 4 year-old.
But don't get me wrong, he is not disconnected at all. In fact he is all kinds of attached to his family. He expresses his emotions beautifully to us and others he is close with. I just think that he is not ready to share that part of himself with too many other people (and he may never be).
So emotion is still confusing for him. But he's on the case. He attempts to discover how our feelings are working several times a day. "Mama, you happy?"
he will say when he sees that I might not be. "Mama is frustrated right now, bud. But it's ok." "Mama, you be happy soon? You be happy tomorrow? You be fusstated now? You feel hot?"
If I'm reading something and I laugh out loud. "Why you be funny, Mama? You get tickle? You happy? Why, you be funny? Why?"
If he does something funny and I laugh. "No be funny at me, mama. You be happy. No funny!"
If I stub my toe and cry out he will come running (as long as it's not actual crying. That makes him run and hide. Hands over ears). "What happen? You get so mad?" "No bud, I hurt my toe. But I'm OK." "So you get happy now, mama? Oh, you sad? You not happy. You scared, mama?" He's not upset when he asks these questions
. He's even keel. He's almost clinical. Investigating. Like he is socking away reasons, gathering information on how long it takes to be happy again. Then he will go on his way, returning in a few minutes to see how I'm feeling and ask more questions. Often he even stays to quietly observe the change in emotion if it's a new emotion he has yet to get a handle on. It's kind of amazing to watch, really. I call him the research scientist. He is always thinking. Taking notes. Comparing outcomes.
This kid. I used to be afraid for him but I'm not anymore. He shows me every single day that he can figure this life out as it unfolds. It may take him longer. His methods may be unconventional. But hey, if coffee hour between church services is too loud and crowded, who am I to force him out from under that chair? He knows what he is doing.
Coffee hour is too busy and loud for this dude.
"Go away, mama, pweeeeese! No grabby me, Mama. No grabby me." ~Mr. Pants (today)
I wasn't trying to grab him. I was trying to hug him. To help him off the floor where he lay after falling. I wanted to hold him in my arms and kiss his boo-boo. But that's not what he needed. So I walked away but not until I told him I'd be in the next room if he wanted my help. Walking away is mega-tron hard for me. It almost feels like I'm trying to walk through a protection spell on Buffy. Every cell in my body is screaming at me to go scoop that baby off the floor and smother him with my love. But my brain pushes me forward reminding me that it isn't what that baby wants or needs. "There is no blood. There is no broken bone. He asked you to leave him be. Stop being an exposed nerve of weepy feelings and do what your kid needs you to do. Get gone, mama."
The trainer becomes the trainee...
Before I was a mom, I worked with moms and their kids. I also trained staff on how to interact with children. So, if I had a dollar for every time I said the words "Every kid is different", I'd be living in a penthouse overlooking Central Park. It's so very true and logical and obvious and all that. But you know what? I could kick myself in the shins for not developing that idea further. But that knowledge would have come from experience. An experience I was yet to have. Until now.
My kids couldn't be more different. Plum, a social butterfly. Pants, a solitary man. This in and of itself is no trouble at all. I want my kids to be who they are. I respect them for who they are and I actually love that they are so very different yet care so much for each other. So what's the problem? Well, it's me.
I'm an extrovert. I'm huggy and touchy and feely. I talk a lot. Even to people I don't know. I'm a hasher-outer when things get tricky. I wanna discuss and get to the bottom and take care of things. And if my words can't help crate a solution, well, then my loving arms will start a-hugging and I will kiss it all away. Closeness and soft whispers of my love for you will help us both feel better. Right? Right???
For Plum, the answer is an easy and comfortable "Yes! Hug me! Love me with closeness! I feel better!!" But for Pants? Oh hell no. Hell to the OH. HELL. NO. And it makes me nervous and weird and uncomfortable. It goes against my skill set. It makes me have to think of how to parent him all the time. I am always thinking. Always considering tone and eye contact when he gets hurt or in trouble or fights with his sister, over stimulated or is hungry etc etc etc.
Shit, it gets harder...
As a baby this came fairly easy. He was our first and we knew no different so we were able to roll with the punches because we didn't know that it wasn't this hard for everyone. We thought we were just earning our parenting street cred and that eventually we would "get it" and it would all fall into place and we'd hit a stride that made sense. But the more he grows and the more independent he becomes, the more I am challenged to change me. Not him. It should have tipped us off that he was at his most comfortable floating in a bathtub with our hand placed just under his head and no other contact.
He is who he is. And he is just fine being who he is. It's how we parent him that needs adjusting. I need to keep in check my extrovert Loud-y McLoud shorts while trying to parent this amazing and foreign (to me), introverted personality that needs space. He needs room to feel. To be alone. To process the shifts and changes that hit him harder than the rest of us. To relax, center and regulate without my grabby-grabby "come to mama" arms trying to kidnap him. So I have been doing just that. pulling myself back from the instinct to run to him and help. It's face-numbing at times that my version of helping doesn't help him. My way, is not his way. So I am learning. Day to day. I am adjusting and trying new things that feel weird to me but seem to be working for him.
It's a waiting game...
I hate waiting. But this kid makes me wait. Of course he does, right? But if I wait, if I let him process his stress the way he chooses to, he will eventually come to me for that hug. But only if I wait. Only if I respect his needs first. It's funny because I have always believed in listening to and watching your baby for cues. That babies know what they need and that they communicate those needs to you. It is then up to you to pay attention. It is how I mothered both of these babies when they where without words. When I didn't know what they were communicating, I remember thinking that I wished they could just give me a few words to tell me where it hurt or to tell me why they were sad. Well, they have them now. And they tell me all the time. It is still my job to listen. Even when the words are not the ones I want to hear. It's not easy being told to "pweese leave me alone". It smacks me in the heart sometimes. But he's telling me and I wouldn't be doing my job letting him be his own person if I didn't respect that. I might have to glue myself to the chair, but I am learning to wait it out.
In conclusion, I have no idea....
So these days of almost four years old and all the independence it brings are filled with fine lines and constant reminders that even though I grew these two in the same body and they live in the same house with the same parents, it isn't fair to them if we streamline our parenting and force them both to be parented the same. Sure, the basics are the same. The rules are the rules, man. But it's important that we remember that their needs are not same. And shouldn't be treated as such. Now if I could just learn how to predict the future, I could tell you how this all turns out. But alas, that the fun of parenting right? It keeps you on your toes.
To be continued...
image source-linked: digitalmomblog.com
image source-linked: digitalmomblog.com
Are your kids introverts? Extroverts? Both?
We never know when they are going to strike. There was a time I tried to figure it out but then he'd go months without going through it and I thought he had it beat. When I thought it was food related, I found no common denominators. Then I thought it might be the result of a bad parenting day on our part. Nope. So it became one of those things I chalked up to his sensory issues messing with him all at once and there was nothing I could do about it. So I read and read and read. Sure kids with sensory integration difficulty are more likely to experience them but they are far from exclusive to sensy kids.
The facts are that night terrors strike all kids. Also a fact? They suuuuuck. They are awful. They make you feel powerless and rip your heart out and crush it. Because there is nothing you can do. We aren't talking about a nightmare. We aren't talking about a bad dream. Night Terrors are in a league of their very own. They are debilitating and well, terrifying.
From Ask Dr. Sears
Characteristics of night terrors:
*Your child seems frightened, but cannot be awakened or consoled.
- *Your child may sit up in bed, or walk around the room, screaming or talking senselessly.*Your child doesn't acknowledge you, his eyes may be open but he seems to stare right through you.
*Objects or persons in the room might be mistaken for dangers.
- *Episodes usually last between 10 and 30 minutes.*Usually occur in children 1 to 8 years old.
*Your child cannot remember the episode in the morning.
*Usually happens within 2 hours of falling asleep
So as Daddy and I stood in the hallway trying not to cry and listening to our baby scream and try to force his body into the walls with a force that rattled them, we felt so helpless. We had been in there. We turned on the light like they say to do. We kept calm voices and repeated the same things like they say to do. "Mama's here. Daddy's here. You are safe. You are at home." We made the space safe and cleared the toys from around him, like they say to do. I tried to touch him. He flew in the opposite direction and screamed "Nooo! Nooo!!! NOOOOOOOO!". He was terrified of me.
We were making it worse.
Let me tell you about how hard it is to leave the room and leave your terrified baby alone. How hard it is that you cannot hold him and kiss him and rock him so that he feels better. How hard it is knowing that if you try again to do those things, you actually make things scarier for him. He will believe I am attacking him. Because he does not realize that you are actually you. Instead, you are in his dream somewhere. You are the scary monster. You are the bad guy. And to help him, you have to go away.
It's the fucking worst.
It took Pants 45 minutes to come out of it. We stopped going in and instead would go to the door and repeat our calm phrases. I've learned that asking him questions helps him to start coming out of it. "Lights on or lights off, baby? Milk or juice, baby? Pillow or no pillow, baby" etc. With every answer he comes to a little bit more. But it's a process. You can't rush it or you go back to square one. My theory is that somewhere in his brain he knows he is being given a little bit of control with each choice he gets to make. I'm no doctor but it's what makes sense to me. And it is the only thing that seems help.
He comes out little by little. Sunday night about 40 minutes in, he took his first quiet break in the screaming. Daddy and I maybe let a tear fall for that. There's a mountain of relief that comes knowing he is starting to come back. This is when I start to ask more direct questions instead of choice questions. "Do you want your wubby, baby? "Can mama come in and sit with you, baby?" He tells me no on both fronts but he tells
me no. He doesn't scream
no, despite his tears still falling.
Progress. We are getting there. "Mama and Daddy are right here in the hallway. You can tell us when you want us to help you, ok?"
Eventually...."Mama. I thirsty". And he's back. I bring him a juice. Daddy and I sit on the bed. He is shaking. His little face is swollen from nearly an hour of screaming and crying hard. "Wanna be in the shirt, baby?" and he crawls over and slides into the Mama Squish Box
. Daddy and I resist the urge to go overboard like we want to. We want to kiss him all over his face and squeeze him and hug him and never let him go. But we are careful to go slow. Let him lead.
And eventually he comes all the way back to us. And I begin reminding myself that most experts agree that he doesn't remember it. I put my hopes in that and when he is ready I hug him tighter and Daddy sets up camp in the recliner waiting for his boy to join him for a bit of Curious George and a snack.
It's finally over. Exhale.
The next morning, I do the only thing I know to do. I pull out the super-secret lollipop stash and remind myself that he's ok.
Just breathe, Mama. Just breathe.
I don't do New Year's resolutions. Because I never keep them. So why set myself up for failure, right? But it seems I already made two and it's not even 10 am yet. I'm not in trouble though. I'm not wishing for the moon. I just whispered a few small promises into the air this morning. No life altering stuff. Just life stuff.
New Year's Eve didn't start out well. In fact it started out downright sucky sucktastic. Double ear infection was the word on the street and Mr. Pants wasn't feeling a celebration. On the way to the doctor he asked me, "Mama? I go a doctor? I go asleep? I scared, Mama" My heart broke into a million pieces as he began to cry a very throat punching cry. You know the one. Silent. Wide eyes. Fearful. "Mama, I scared." he said again. All my wishing for him to forget his surgery
didn't seem to do the trick. He remembers. And the memory is scary. So as I drove my boy to the doctor on New Year's Eve, I began to quietly cry for him. "No one is going to hurt you today, bud. You don't have to go to sleep at the doctor today, baby. Mama will stay with you and it won't hurt. I promise." "Ok, mama. I go to sleep?" "No bud, no sleep at the doctor today. She is gonna look at your ouchies in your ears so we can get medicine to make them feel better. Just like we looked in Buzz's ears at home, remember?" "Ok, Mama. I scared" as his lip and chin began to quiver again.
Being a mom is just heart ripping sometimes, isn't it?
It didn't go well at the doctor. Mr. Pants began to panic almost immediately. It was brutal and I won't describe it because he and I don't need a play by play. Instead I have made my first New Year's Resolution in years and years. Resolution number one is for you, Mr. Pants. I promise that starting right now, I will work with you in safe and stress-free ways to help you become less afraid of the doctor. I promise. You and me, buddy. Let's do this.
Chocolate milk helps at the end of a stressful doctor visit
So by the time we got home, Mr. Pants was whooped
. I tried to coax some dinner of frozen pizzas and chips into him. I mean it's New Year's Eve! Junk food is the rule for sickies on a holiday, right? But he wasn't into it and was in bed for the night at five. FIVE. You know a 3 year old is sick when he puts himself to bed at five
That left Plum and I to celebrate alone since Daddy was at work making fancy food for the masses. Here at home we had our own fancy feast. Side note: when your allergies
are milk, eggs and peanuts, good desserts can be hard to come by. But I was prepared. There isn't a lot of junk food that passes the "safe for Plum" test but there is one we can always count on. The classic Oreo. Throw in some So Delicious chocolate ice cream and we had a straight up party. Just the two of us.
We played dress-up and danced to our favorite tunes. We ate our junk food and sang some songs. Basically we partied pretty hard by toddler standards. So hard that we needed to make some costume changes half way through. By the time seven-thirty rolled around, Plum was plum tuckered. She told me it was time to go to bed and have some nucks (milks). She was out cold by 7:40 pm on New Year's Eve.Resolution number two is for you, Plum. I promise to play dress-up with you more often than not. We are gonna get super crazy fancy up in this house this year, baby girl. Oh, yes. Yes we are.
The house was quiet. Too quiet for New Year's Eve. I mean there was a day when this night brought all kinds of mayhem and tomfoolery. Even hijinks. Lots and lots of shenanigans and, well, you get the point. Drunk and stumble-y, I kissed many many strangers and not strangers at midnight, you guys. I wore sparkling sequins and danced for hours in shoes that tortured my feet at parties where the liquor flowed like water. Sparklers and fireworks. Sweaty glittery skin. Foil covered walls. Velvet pants. Wigs and tiaras. People passed out in the yard. All very glamorous, really. And I had so much fun. Too much fun, maybe. But SO much fun. For years.
But it doesn't hold a candle to coconut milk ice cream and old dance costumes. It doesn't touch the awesomeness of digging into a bag of Oreos and watching YouTube videos of Yo Gabba Gabba tunes and miscelleneous other bits of awesome (What what, Whitney Houston! I knew you would blow Plum's mind. OOOOH! I wanna dance with some-bod-ay!!) while your baby dances and sings along. It doesn't compare to getting the medicine your sick kid needs to get better finally and knowing that he is sleeping peacefully in the next room.
Because my dream all along was to have a family. And sometimes that means sick kids and husbands working on a holiday. I'll take it anyway. So this year I rang in the New Year with this. It happens to be Pants and Plum's favorite song right now. And I think it's pretty rad.
And then I rang it in proper with this. Like I always do. And a grin sat knowingly on my face in my quiet quiet house of sleeping kids and I remembered (or had foggy ideas of blurry possabilities of) my younger days. Because they were great, too. They were really freaking great. And I danced by myself. And I laughed. I just cracked up. Remembering. Damn, we had some fun.
Mommy's alright. Daddy's alright. They just seem a little weird.... Surrender...Surrender...
Happy New Year ! Here's to a fan-freaking-tastic year loving your families be they biological or chosen.
Spread the love around and Surrender to 2013!
It's gonna be great.
My meeting with his teacher was at 4:15. I was so nervous; I got into some nice jeans (read: clean), put on a sweater and some sassy black boots. I showered, too.
I'm fifteen minutes early so I take a look around. The school is so sweetly small. And that's because it is for miniature people. I stop in the library. It's the cutest library you've ever seen.
I look at the artwork on the walls. I find Mr. Pants' pumpkin hanging among the patch. I get a bit weepy about it.
So I head to the ladies room to freshen up. And I am too tall for it. It's all too adorable.
Making my way back to begin our conference, I am eager to talk about my kid. There is a question nagging at me but I'm afraid to ask it. I received his progress report last week. It basically said he is smart as a whip. It also said he is quiet. Now a lot of people have quiet kids. It's a very natural and normal way to be. There is nothing wrong with it. But my kid is not quiet. Not by anyone's definition of the word. I read that part over and over. "He keeps to himself". "He's observant and quiet". "Always well behaved". And I panicked. That's not my kid. My kid is loud and insane. Laughs in guffaws and yell talks. He is demanding and assertive to a fault. But it seems he doesn't rule the pre-school kingdom yet. And a part of me is freaking out while the other half is saying be calm. He's adjusting still. That's when the question came to me. And it never left.
His teacher Mrs. K has a bubbly personality. I like her. She tells me all about the routine of the class. She explained the surprise piece of candy in his back pack the other day. She told me that Mr. Pants is becoming more and more comfortable in class. Not talking very much, but still. He is doing well. She tells me that she doesn't push him to interact with other kids because she thinks that will send him backwards. I agree. She goes on and on and I begin to tune it all out. Because that question is trying to jump out of my mouth and I don't know if I want the answer yet.
She finishes talking. She seems to genuinely like my kid and that makes me happy. She asks if I have any questions. I pause. "Do, um.." I begin trying to think of something else to ask but I have nothing. I start to fumble for my words to stall but they come anyway. "Do they, um, the other kids..." Gulp. I'm trying not to tear up. "Do they like him? Are they nice to him?" and a tear broke through but I kept it in the eye. I felt stupid. I'm such an emotional blob sometimes and I didn't want to do this here. I look down and shuffle the papers in front of me as a diversion. She smiles and says, "I know why that worries you. Yes, they do. He keeps to himself but there is a little girl named K that always eats lunch with him. She's older and she kind of took to him early on and helps him to transition. It's very sweet. And W loves to run with him on the playground. They run laps the whole time. It's so funny. They just laugh and laugh." I thank her and get up to leave.
When I get to my car, I let the tears come. Relief. I head home to my kid who has two friends. Two whole friends. And I cry happy tears about it all the way home.
Linking up for the weekly #iPPP with the amazing Greta and Julie.
I feel lost as a mother.
For the last several weeks Mr. Pants has been an anxious and over-loaded tornado. He is more often than not, a wreck. Uncontrolled. Devestated. Unwound.
His stims have come roaring back. He is side-eyeing, hulking and repeating. Life is so very difficult for him right now.
I have been floundering. Grabbing at straws. Drowning. Daddy too.
Sensory kids are never predictable. Just when you think you have it down, the game changes. Just when you think you have worked through the hardest parts, the parts change. Just when you think you know the score, well, you don't.
I am humbled. I am sad. I am hopeful. I appreciate the fact that we will never have all the answers. Even though I'd like them. Especially during weeks like these.
We are not sure why. We have some ideas.
We are not sure how to work through this. Again, with the ideas.
The old solutions are not working. New ones are met with resistance or escalation.
We will not stay lost. He will not stay in this intense place. And this is how I know...
For weeks he has struggled to be with her. She has been desperate for his company. He has ignored her. Yelled at her. Hurt her. Isolated himself from her. He hasn't been able to deal with her crying or her singing or her dancing. It would send him into a tailspin. I do not know why. Other than it feels like, it's not her. It's not personal. It's any noise or distress or change or anything but quiet solitary being is too much right now. I think.
But not today. Today he loved her. Today he played trains with her. They danced to music together. They read books. And when Mama gave them each a box of raisins to eat while they waited for dinner, this is what happened. He sat with her. His body relaxed. He wanted to be with her. And her little foot drifted onto his leg. I think she was making sure to keep him there.
We will be ok. Mr. Pants will be ok. This sensory shit won't rule this child.
I know because he's already done it. We created a comfortable space for him and he figured out how to move his body through space at the ripe old age of 13 months. And he will again. Only this time, he has a new backer. His baby sister who seems to only grow more and more in love with her big brother everyday.
We will be alright. We will get there. We just need some new ideas. New strategies.
And more raisins.
Dear Mr. President,
Mama said you were in town yesterday. That's pretty cool. When she woke up yesterday she said to me, "Hey Bud! Do you want to see some presents today?" and I was all, "YEAH!!" and gave her the double index finger to show how jazzed I was. Then she walked into the kitchen for her morning coppee.
I was so excited to be getting presents that I started to tear through all the closets and the laundry room looking for them.
You and I both know that I was mistaken. There were no presents, Mr. President. She was talking about you. It seems she had no intention of showering me with new trains and cars, but rather standing outside in the rain and then in a giant sports annex waiting for hours to see you. So you can see how I would be confused. Because um, booooring.
Mr. Presents, my Mama is no dummy. It occured to her when I lost my ever loving mind over lunch (don't judge me. I was promised presents!) that this was not going to work out for us. I could see her harken back to a recent super fun time were it took a giant leaf hypnotizing me
to bring me back from sensory overload town. That's when the light bulb went off over her head. I totally saw it, Mr. Presents. She realized it would be ridic to try and cart Plum and I out into that kind of madness. So instead we stayed home and made a fort.
She told me that someday we will meet you. So that's pretty cool. I like trains.
Hope you had a nice time in my hometown. Those are some impressive cranes in the downtown area, no? The bulldozers are the best part of the whole town. I hope you got a chance to see them. They will blow your mind.
Peace out, man.
Mr. Presents [Image Source: © C. Walter]
Yesterday, Mr. Pants had a straight up heart exploding panic attack. Yesterday, my heart went through the ringer. Yesterday, Ms. Plum showed her brother just how much she loved him. Oh man, yesterday was hard.
His heart was racing. He repeated the same phrase upwards of a thousand times. He held his wubby and rubbed his face. Nothing I did was helping. It was her. All her.
She sat with him. She cried with him. When she saw the opportunity, she leaned in to him. He let her. She kissed him. And then she kissed him again. Each kiss bringing a moment of calm. She kept kissing him. He wanted her to lie under his comforter, but she didn't understand. She ran away. His panic returned. So she did too. Her body and soft kisses, telling him, "It's ok, brother. I am here".
I have never seen a child experience such panic. I was at a loss. Such a loss. Everything I tried, failed. When it was over I spent some time crying it out in the bathroom. When I came out, they were together. Sitting quietly in their tent. Just being.
Then Grandma Pants stopped by for a little story time. Still dipping into a panic every few minutes, Grandma drew him out with a dolphin impression that made him laugh.
Becoming more and more comfortable, he took a moment to contain himself. The worst was over and we were heading towards normal. But he still didn't want his mama to hold him. And I'd be a big fat liar if I said that didn't sting. But he needed to choose how he came back to us. And he was choosing. He chose the green bucket.
The day trudged on. He was not himself and she knew it. It is normal in our house for Plum to want to be where Pants is at all times. What is not normal is that yesterday he wanted her with him all of that time. And so she was. By his side every moment of the day until she knew he was ok. No booster seat across the table for snack. She was going to sit right next to him. She wasn't going anywhere. Which was a good thing because I hadn't cleaned her booster tray after breakfast.
He's ok. He got through it. So did Plum. But it wasn't until he came to me and asked, "Ah shirt, Mama?", that I was alright. It's been months since he needed squish box a la Mama
. And this time, he wasn't the only one that needed it. So as he climbed on in, we watched some Thomas & Friends. Mama and Pants. I finally exhaled and my heart began beating at a normal pace. His did too. I stopped feeling as though I could cry at any moment. He did too. I finally released the pain I felt for him. And he let go of the pain too. We sat still together and just breathed in and out. It was completely over. Relief.
And Plum? Well, with the opportunity to tag out, she promptly went into Pants' room and played with all of his favorite toys.
Just like a baby sister should.
Getting it right.
No matter how many times you fail.
Just keep taking your sensational kid on adventures to try again.
And yes, grocery stores count.
They will never learn how to experience the world,
if you don't let them practice.
Watching the world go by.
You need it too.
You are a team.
You are learning just as much as he is.
You learn what works. And what doesn't.
If you stay home, you'll never get it right.
And getting it right feels really good.
So just keep trying.
You can do it.
On Saturday, Mr. Pants, Grandma Pants and I headed out to a school supply expo. And yeah, maybe we didn't think it through but then again, I rarely think things through. We were excited. We brought Mr. Pants along because Captain America, Spiderman and Super Why would be there and I thought he might get a kick out of that.
We strolled up to expo only to find that um, there was a line for two city blocks to get in. This was precisely the moment that I started to worry that the day may not go as planned. I knew it was impossible for Mr. Pants to wait in that kind of line. I know that because he freaks his freak just waiting for me to get done peeing so that he can pretend to pee. He doesn't even have to pee. He just hates waiting that much. And I get that
. He is my son after all. So Grandma Pants took our place at the back of this line of insanity while Pants and I went for a walk. Before we set out, I knew where we would end up. I let him lead the way. All the way back to the fire truck we'd seen on the drive in.
We walked around and around and back and forth. Mr. Pants became irritated at the pop music blaring from the local radio station tent and began demanding his favorite song. I explained to him that we would be in the building soon to meet Spiderman and he wouldn't have to hear that annoying Disney Kids crud anymore. In the meantime maybe Grandma would take a picture of us.
Well, we got in the building. And Mr. Pants immediately executed a perfectly graceful monkey climb straight up my spine. I think he may have been trying to actually melt himself into me. He was freaked. Too many people. Too loud. Too much. It's hard to gauge how these kinds of things will go when you are the mama of a sensory kid. Carnivals, zoos, school supply expositions. They are hit or miss. When they hit, it's awesome and the joy he experiences is heart exploding. When they miss, it can descend quickly into some bad places. Sometimes we recover. Sometimes not. At this point in our day, I wasn't sure how it was going to go. We trekked on and I carried my monkey so that he felt safe. We saw Spiderman. Pants wanted nothing to do with him so we moved on. We saw Captain America. Mr. Pants wouldn't even look up from the nape of my neck. So I snapped a picture of someone else's kid getting their picture taken with the Captain so that I could show Daddy. There were K-9 dogs, fire safety vehicles, stuffed zoo animals (gag), bubble stations and face painting. Mr. Pants believed this all to be bullshit.
That's when it happened. One row over, they were letting kids play with the sirens in some police cruisers. It was loud. And I knew we were in trouble. He began to shake. Tears in his eyes. Voice shaking, "Ah go home, mama. Ah go home, pweese?". We were done. I told Grandma Pants that she would have to go on without us. I needed to get Mr. Pants out of there. I told her that we'd be playing outside and could keep in contact with our cell phones. I asked her if she'd mind getting school supplies for Mr. Pants and we'd meet up when she was done. Grandma was on it. Grandma is always on it. Neither of us had known it would be a madhouse. But it was. So we divided to conquer. I begin heading for the exit with Mr. Pants. I'm telling him, "It's ok, bud. We're leaving. We're going outside. It's ok" when something caught the corner of his eye. "What's that, mama?" he asked me. "That's a leaf, bud. Do you want to say hi?"
Clear assured distance
He did not want to say Hi. Well, at least not from anywhere the leaf could actually hear him. But he was intrigued. He wanted me to put him down for a minute. And he walked a twenty foot perimeter around that leaf. Watching his every move. Completely entranced as if to say, "There is an enormous leaf just walking around, man. This is blowing my mind."
And then, IT happened. We had stopped to observe the creepy leaf right near a stage at the far end of the expo floor. Right before the exit to outside. I look over and realize they are setting up drums all over that stage. "Look, bud! Drums!" and for the first time since we arrived that morning, I relax. Because I know. I know that it is on. And that my boy will be ok. He will stop shaking. He will not be afraid anymore. The thousands of people squeezed into that space will fall away. And Mr. Pants will overcome his fear. Because, by what felt like Divine intervention, a drumming group was about to save this day.
And save the day they did.
The rhythm is gonna getcha
Thank the Universe for drummers and giant creepy leaves.
Because, just like that, our day at the expo ended with a smile.