Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Perfecting Trips to the Amusement Park

Today we arrived at Six Flags at 11:30.  We rode the huge Ferris Wheel, then had our typical lunch (one of the great parts of having a seasons pass of meals both dinner and lunch) of pizza or corn dog (one of each for the kiddos).  We then headed out to Bugs Bunny National Park via the train.  We've got our routine going - this is very typical of our day when we go.  I learned long ago that developing a routine helps Gavin know exactly what to look for, and developing a routine at the park is just as important.

Today things kind of went awry!  We went to the little train and after riding it several times we headed out for something else.  Apparently Gavin wasn't ready to leave, and he wanted to look at the train for some reason.  He ran off from me.  It scared the daylights out of me.  I'm rather overweight, have another small person with me, and catching my zoom boy is difficult at best!  When I finally caught him and put him in the stroller we had a meltdown.  He wanted to go look at the train, and ride it some more.  I was intent on punishing the bad behavior by denying him.  We were both miserable, and Mia just sat by and watched.

About that time I received a phone call from my sister, Joan.  I started to tell her what was happening and she said, "That is why I'm calling!  Our children are very much alike and you should get these books The Explosive Child and What the Explosive Child is Trying to Tell You.  And for right now, let Gavin ride the train.  There is no point in both of you being mad."  We went on to have a great discussion on how today's society has deemed giving into tantrums bad, however what do you do with a child that demands things NOW!   This is part of being a PDD-NOS kid and SPD.  I have to find alternative methods for discipline, and learning to listen to his needs.

We went back on the train, until he began to walk on the tracks (You should have seen the look on the teenagers face that was working the ride).  When I asked him why he did that he told me he was trying to get onto the big train (which had just arrived.)  I said, okay lets go - and once again he was off.  Man that kid gives me heart palpitations!!!

When Gavin wants something he is bound and determined to get it.  It can be a trial keeping him in line, from opening gates, to staying with momma!  After the mess of today I have resolved to be better prepared in the future!

Mom's Bag of Tricks for Six Flags

  1. We went to Toys R Us today and purchased two backpack harnesses for the kids.  Gavin loves his (he feels more like a train pulling a car), Mia likes the backpack but doesn't want to have us hold hers.  I'm thinking for her she will just wear the backpack without the "leash" since she is pretty good about staying with an adult.
  2. In Gavin's backpack I am going to make sure that he has his weighted snake so that he can have the deep pressure, and a toy to play with when he needs one.  I thought about a weighted vest for him, but it is just too hot for that.  It was up to 94 degrees today!
  3. Go to the wave pool!  I'm so glad that it opens on Friday!  As long as someone is holding him he is fine.  
  4. Create a schedule of what rides we go on and which order.  This way we can plan breaks throughout the day.  Taking the train around the park once or twice is an awesome way for him to simmer down (we did that today.  It was a much needed break for both Mommy and Gavin.  Mia liked it too).  
  5. I'm sure this list will grow through time, and practice.  I will come back and edit as needed!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Big Red Train is Mine!

We decided to purchase season passes for the entire family this summer instead of have Amelia and Gavin continue with Little Gym for the summer.  Although the kids miss their jaunts to the gym for tumbling lessons Scott and I felt that they will get benefit from an amusement park and water park just as well - and this summer it isn't limited to one day a week for one hour.

We went to six flags last week with just Mia and Gavin.  Donovan was with his mother over Easter Break this year.  We spent most of our time in the Loony Toons Area.  The kids loved being in the Engine of this train.  I think they stayed on the train for a good half an hour.  All were pleased.

This past weekend we went as an entire family.  It was a rainy day - but that wasn't going to stop us.  When we got to the park it was all but empty.  We bought rain ponchos (we got a dollar off each one because we had seasons passes), plain blue ones for Scott and I and the boys got batman.  Mia wore her sweater poncho she got for Christmas.
Donovan in the rain!  Gotta love his beautiful smile!

After lunch we headed for Gavin's "Big Red Train'.  Yes, I said Gavin's.  It is his!!!!  He is willing to share with all those who want to ride his train, but for all intents and purposes - it is HIS and he will tell anyone that he talks to "I rode my big red train.  It's MINE!"

They were so happy to ride in the caboose!
We ended up staying at the park from noon to seven pm.  I was so warn out, my muscles still hurt!!!  The kids enjoyed playing on the kiddy rides, although he had a couple of interesting moments at Looney Toons!  when Gavin got on the caboose of the tiny train there was another child in with him.  All of a sudden this other child slapped Gavin across the face.  Before I could get Scott to go in there the two boys were having a slapping fight.  The train operator helped Scott separate the boys and I watch the young boy as he sat flicking his fingers and giving precise information about his birth date.  I thought to myself "I wonder if he is Autistic, or something similar."

After the ride was over I watched as he just started to roam the children's area.  I went to a manager and brought up that there seemed to be no parent.  After about watching the boy for about five minutes we saw him meander over to an older woman.  I sat there pondering if I should let her know about the altercation between the boy.  She needed to be aware that her child was accosting other children, but I wanted to be sensitive and non confrontation.    I went over with a smile on my face and gently told her about what happened.  Her response was "Oh, well he is Autistic and he goes to a special school because he does stuff like that."  I commiserated with her, and said I understood because my child also has Autism (It is so easier to just say this then try and explain PDD-NOS to a stranger).

Walking away I felt relieved that there was no confrontation - but I don't think she took the cue I was sending her - he needed better supervision.  Just telling another parent "Oh, well he's Autistic" isn't enough in my opinion.  Action is needed.  We saw this child many times throughout the day - and often without his Grandmother right by his side.  He was only six.  Gavin is 5 and I know that if I am not within close vicinity to him in a park he will be gone in an instant.  Not only that - but I want to be near my child when he gets in another child's space (and sometimes on top of them, or pushing them, or slapping.) so that I can remove my child from the situation.  I know that I have said to a parent "I'm sorry, my child doesn't quite understand personal boundaries, we are working on that."  But as I am doing it I am placing Gavin on a much needed time out, letting him know that he has consequences for his actions.  I'm not trying to judge this Grandmother (Okay, maybe I am a little), I just wonder if there are times when parents feel as if I am not doing what I should be to supervise Gavin!
Three story tree house

Soon after this experience Scott came up to me irate.  He was helping Gavin on this HUGE and I mean HUGE playground Tree house.  Gavin gets a little fearful crossing things that he can see through and Scott was couching him through a netted tunnel.  The Tree house attendant informed my husband that adults were not allowed on the play equipment.

Scott:  "Well, how do you help your child if you can't be on with them"

Attendant: "Oh, they need to be able to play on here without help."

REALLY!!!!!!  We read the rules.  It clearly states that children a minimum of 40 inches and a max of 54 inches can play with adult supervision.  Okay - so to me that means we can supervise and if needed be up on the play equipment.  I went up to ask the girl (and she was indeed just a girl) what the rules were.  As I approached she was already telling me "Ma'am, adults aren't allowed to be on the equipment."  I asked her what the specific rules were.  I told her what the sign said and that no where did it state that adults could not be on the equipment with their children.  It would make sense that they couldn't go down the slide if they were taller than 54 inches, but not anywhere?????

She said "Those are the rules".

"Well, what if a child needs assistance?"

 "Then they shouldn't be on the equipment."

REALLY!!!!!!! Is what I am screaming inside my head.  Out loud I say,  "Well, my son is Autistic and so your telling me that he can't play because he needs assistance?"

"OHHHHH, I didn't know he had Autism, that's different.  Those are special circumstances.  Why didn't your husband say he was Autistic."

 I gave her a dumbfounded look.  "We don't make it a habit of telling everyone we meet that he is Autistic."

I knew at this point that I was getting confrontational with the poor girl and I told her to call a supervisor over.  She's just some young kid who OBVIOUSLY didn't understand the instructions she was given on who could and couldn't be on the equipment.  I wait, and I wait. I go down with Scott because Gavin has started to be a handful and Mia wants to go on the Tree house too - but there is no way we were going to let two of them go on by themselves.  There are two entrances to the play area and without being able to be on the equipment to make sure they are safe one of them could escape into the park!

So we are looking at the rules for a trillionth time when here comes three security officers.  No supervisor - just security.  Great!  I'm gonna get thrown out of the park!  Is what I am thinking.

"What is the matter Ma'am?"  I go into what happened and there is a bit of a dumbfounded look on their faces.  "Well, a supervisor is on their way, maybe they can answer that question for you."  Okay, phew, not gonna get kicked out!

The supervisor comes and once again we explain our situation.  "No, parents can go up with their children.  They just can't go down the slide.  Where you trying to go down the slide?"

 "No, we weren't even near the slide."

"Oh, well you can go play up there with your kids.  And maybe get a medical band for your son so that attendants know that he has special needs."   (That isn't going to happen.  Wrist bands drive him crazy - he associates them with hospitals).

One of the security guys leans in and says "You have to remember this is only the second weekend we've been open and these kids are just learning the rules themselves."  I agreed.  The security guys left us with smiles on their faces and stickers passed out to the three kids.  I took Mia on the Tree house and Gavin went to ride the boats.  I still don't quite get how the attendant could get NO adults on the play equipment at all from the real rule of No one over 54 inches can go down the slide.  Anyways that was the only bump in our otherwise beautiful day!

Finally Mia gets on the Tree house

We let the kids play for another little bit, then it was getting really warm.  The rain had lifted and we no longer needed our rain ponchos.  Scott took wet coats and ponchos to our car and I headed to the cars.  Ya know, the ones the kids can drive and feel like they are ready for the open road????  Yup THOSE cars.  Oh, I loved this ride when I was a kid when we went to Hershey Park, Pennsylvania and Lagoon Park in Utah.  LOVED, LOVED, LOVED.  Did I tell you I LOVED this ride as a kid.  It must be genetic, because my kids adored it.  WE spent an hour at least getting on the cars, riding the cars, getting out to switch drivers, and doing it all over again.  FUN!!!!!!!!
Notice the goofy grin on my face!!!

Gotta love Gavin's Look of Concentration!!!

Each time we passed the carousal Mia would ask to ride the "Horsy's " The first ride we sat on the chariot seats.  Second time I sat her down on a horse.  She was terrified, but then as soon as the ride started she was instanced.
Loving the ride
Upset that the ride has ended

Soon after we headed to dinner we bumped into Donovan's cousins. I wish I had filmed them seeing each other.  The look of surprise and excitement on their faces will never be forgotten.  He asked if he could go with them (we knew this was coming) and after telling him he would miss out on dinner at the park we left him in the capable hands of his Uncle.

We have the Lunch/Dinner season pass - great price since we live so close.  Heck we can go eat at the park, ride the train, and leave if we want or stay all day - we will save on going out to eat that is for sure. Guess where we headed after dinner????
Yup, you guessed it.  Back to the cars.
Then Gavin's favorite activity of the day - puddle jumping
Followed by one last ride on the train
By seven o'clock my poor body was ready to go home and go to bed.  We collected Donovan at the front entrance and headed the ever so long distance to our car.
Gotta love the sweat parking spot we got!
When we got out of the car at home the sweat voice of my two year old Mia sleepily asked "Back again tomorrow?  Back again tomorrow?"  We may not have been headed back the next day - but we will soon return for more fun and excitement at Six Flags!!!!