Tuesday, October 14, 2008

We won't be doing THAT again

Friday, Cuddlebug & Bearhug's school held a fundraiser in the form of a Fall Festival, complete with inflatable slides, moonwalks, hayride, rock climbing wall, lots of snacks, etc. Sounds like fun, right?

The boys thought so too, and they hounded me all week to send in money for tickets so we could go. Based on how well they did at the autism fair, we thought Bitty would enjoy it too so we decided to take the whole family.

As soon as we arrived, I realized that a big factor in our success last week was the fact that the autism fair was, in fact, geared toward children with autism. The various "attractions" were spaced out across an entire large parking lot, so even though there were a lot of people there, it didn't have a cramped, overly crowded feel. There was also no loud, blaring music.

Not so with the school event. The entire thing, with the exception of the hayride, was crammed into the thin strip of parking lot in front of the school (where the busses pick up and drop off). Everything was so close together that the lines for each attraction or booth were interwoven together, making it difficult to even be sure you were in the right line. Not to mention, the crowd was thick and hard to maneuver through. And right in the middle was some very loud music being blasted through numerous speakers, and there was no escaping the noise.

Bitty wouldn't even go in. I think he spotted a clown and that didn't help. Finally dh took him back to the car to wait while I went in with Bearhug and Cuddlebug. I tried to get them to do a couple of things and leave early, but Cuddlebug started complaining over and over, "this is a disaster... today is a disaster..." so I checked in with dh and he was fine w/ Bitty in the car so we stayed.

Luckily, I still had Bitty's wristband since he had refused to actually put it on. I was able to exchange it for tickets for the boys to do some of the events, so it wasn't wasted money (too bad I didn't have dh's wristband, he was still wearing his).

The boys went on the hayride, played some games, and did the slides. They were pretty wound up but handling it ok until Bearhug started to have a meltdown over a game that didn't go his way, which right after the injustice of being told we were done spending money on snacks was just too much. I'd already bought them each some ice cream + tickets. I know, I'm a mean mom, what can I say?

At that point, dh and Bitty found us, apparently Bitty was ready to join the fun. Bearhug calmed down, so we told them we could stay a little longer and then we needed to leave. They wanted to do the rock climbing wall. I was a little hesitant about that one, but when I told them that would use up all the tickets we had left, dh said let's do it and then we can go.

Unfortunately, the rock climbing wall had the longest line ever, but once we had told them they could go on it, there was no going back. The line must have taken close to an hour, it was daylight when we started and pitch black by the time it was their turn. Have I mentioned they are not good at waiting in lines? Ugh. They were bouncing all over the place and BH kept trying to sneak in front of the family in front of us. He got mad every time I made him come back and stand by us.

Bitty did ok at first, he spotted some ducks (they had little plastic ducks in a small swimming pool for one of the games) and he LOVES ducks, so that kept him busy for a while. But as we got closer, he spotted the rock climbing wall and it was quickly downhill from there.

Apparently there is a small rock climbing wall at one of the parks dh takes him to during the day, and he loves it. So of course, he wanted to go on that. He has no concept of waiting in line. He has no concept of being too little for anything. He was a man on a mission and there was absolutely no distracting him from his objective. So dh spent the next (I don't know, 40 minutes?) wrestling with him, trying to intercept his repeated attempts to maneuver through the crowd and start climbing.

We took turns a couple of times, but mostly I stayed with Cuddlebug and Bearhug and he dealt with Bitty. I have to give BH and CB credit, they stayed in control and waited their turn, however impatiently. Finally it was their turn! By then Bitty was in full meltdown mode. I got a few pictures of the boys climbing and then took another turn at wrestling with Bitty (no easy task, he is getting big and strong!) while dh waited for the boys. We already had our escape route planned and were ready to bolt as soon as they got down.

They both climbed pretty well. Cuddlebug made it about halfway up the wall and then came down all by himself. Bearhug made it almost to the top but got scared once he was up there and wouldn't let go to come down. One of the staff had to go up and get him. I had told both of them ahead of time that when they're done (or if they slip) not to worry because you can't fall, just let go and the rope will catch you and let you down. Sigh.

By the time we got to the car, dh and I were completely exhausted. The boys' overstimulation lasted all weekend, mostly in the form of them being extremely irritable and lashing out over nothing. This goes on the list of things we won't be doing again, well, probably EVER.

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hellokittiemama on October 14, 2008 at 9:07 AM said...

Oh no! I was exhausted just reading that. Glad you survived... know what you mean about the loud music.

You wanna hear what's nuts?? the autism events by us all have loud music - kids going nuts, I'm always one of several parents to complain and they always still have loud music again. I don't "get it".

Anonymous said...

I'm with hellokittiemama - yeah, the loud music and overstims are not fun.

I feel glad to know that atleast our family is not the only neurotic ones that plan an escape route for "situations" like this.

Jenny on October 14, 2008 at 12:04 PM said...

I agree with the above comment - I was exhausted reading that, too! I'm not sure who those meltdowns wear out more - the kid having it or the parents fighting with them. I'm always so drained after days like that!

Elizabeth Channel on October 16, 2008 at 11:48 PM said...

Yes. We did this last year at our school before we started homeschooling.

We are still recovering. Although we did win a cake at the cakewalk.

Although now that we are GFCF, we couldn't eat it.

It's a lose-lose situation!


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I'm a mom of three boys on the autism spectrum, 11-yr-old identical twins and a 7-yr-old. My husband is a SAHD.


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