I don't even know why I bother sometimes.
Taz had an end-of-the-year picnic for his preschool at a local park/beach. I had no idea how many kids actually went to his preschool until I drove up to see about 200 people there. The event was very well organized but it still felt chaotic. Problem #1: Chaos and noise do not make Taz a very happy boy.
Each child was assigned a colored bracelet that corresponded to an order of activities. First up was music. Taz did okay. There were dancing games and songs with hand motions but mostly Taz rocked his head (like Stevie Wonder, remember that from my sensory post?) because he was anxious. But he tolerated it. After music we were supposed to do a dress-up relay race. Problem #2: It was hot. Like 90 degrees hot. Heat does not make Taz a happy boy either. He saw the dress up clothes, then the other kids running to the cone and he was not impressed. I enticed him to try the race by telling him he can show everyone how fast he can run. The teacher tried to get him to put on the clothing and he said, "I already have a shirt". Duh. What kid would want to put on extra clothes when it's 90 degrees out? So she let it go and just let him run. After his turn, he was done. I mean with the whole thing. No more activities, no playground, nothing, he was done. And when Taz is done, it's usually best to leave. But I didn't.
So we took a break in the shade instead. Then Taz started obsessing about where his teacher is and wanting to play her game (each teacher was assigned a different game to run). It wasn't our turn to be at that game but I didn't care. We jumped into another group and played her game. One of the teachers running this particular game could see that Taz was losing it and couldn't wait in line so she let him jump in front of the other kids twice. I was not popular with the parents that day, but I never am. After playing that for about a quarter of the time the other kids did, he was ready to move on. That's when he noticed the beach.
Now the picnic rules said there was no swimming allowed. But this beach was open to the public so there were actually people swimming. Both my kids love the water so how can I not allow them near it? So I thought maybe if I let them wade their feet in the water for a little bit Taz would calm down and participate in some of the games. Big mistake.
Chica, who is usually my laid back girlie, freaked out that I wouldn't let her go all the way in. She thinks she's a fish. She will walk straight into the water and not stop until we pull her back. I have never seen her so mad in all her life. She was not going to tolerate just dipping her feet.
Taz's anxiety was getting the better of him and the beach wasn't helping like I thought it would. So I picked up Chica and sat in the grass to put their shoes on. Chica screamed which set Taz off even more and he started throwing sticks at her while yelling to "shut up!" All the while I'm trying to dry their feet off with my shirt and get their shoes back on.
I was tempted to leave but I had packed a wonderful picnic lunch and I knew if we could just hold out a little longer he'd be able to eat in the shade with his friends and have fun. So, because I always have a truck in the back of my car for situations like these, I asked Taz if he'd like to push his truck around and collect wood-chips. This is usually very calming for him. He said yes.
So I hiked all the way up the hill I parked on carrying Chica, who's 20 lbs, in the 90 degree heat, got Taz's giant dump truck and carried it back down to him. He ran to me and started screaming that he was hungry. Like a desperate about-to-seriously-melt-down screaming to eat. There was no point fighting it.
So even though we were the only one's not playing any games, and the only ones starting lunch, that's what we did. We had our lunch while all the other kids (including the other special ed kids) participating in the activities in one way or the other. I looked around and felt very sad. Sad that my child was simply not able to have fun. He couldn't handle these normal childhood experiences. I so badly want him to be able to. But I know he just can't. And I have to stop going to these things thinking that this time he'll be able to do it.
After we had our lunch he was in a better mood. Of course the games were over and the other kids were starting their picnic lunches. That's when Taz asked if he could play the games. Go figure!
Oh yeah, and he never even used the truck.