Staying Ahead Of The Game

There couldn’t have been a better day for a school carnival.  The temperature hung at about 85 degrees while kids ran, clad in shorts and sandals, across the lawn. There were multiple jumpy houses, a rock wall, a blow up mechanical bull ride, a human sized hamster wheel, games, a photo booth, a miniature train that gave rides around the school, a reptile exhibit, an ambulance you could sit inside of, the local fire truck that you could sit in, two food trucks parked at the edge of the field and a cake walk.  What more could a kid ask for?

We walked to the carnival from our house at around 5pm, when the crowds were fairly small. The first jumpy the boys went in had no line because it was meant for the younger kids.  They spent a while leaping around, attacking the blow up animals inside the farm themed jumpy.  Then the youngest noticed the much larger jumpy slide.  He leaped out of the barnyard jumpy and started running full bore, without shoes, across the lawn toward his destination.

This is so much like my youngest.  He runs headlong towards whatever he wants without thought of consequences of his actions. Can you tell he is three years old?

lizards www.autismmom.netWhile the visual of this moment might be kind of funny: a little blonde boy running across a field with his mother yelling behind him and his older brother getting upset because he is trying to get his shoes on and being left behind, it was kind of not funny.  By the time I caught the little guy, he had already run across the field to the line of the jumpy he wanted to go on.  D was trailing behind us wearing socks and carrying his shoes.

The blare of the generators that kept the jumpy houses inflated was slightly overwhelming for me but if it bothered D, he hid it very well.  He was so excited about going on the jumpy slide that he kept running out of line.  As a mom who isn’t interested in waiting in the same line for hours on end, I held his spot and reminded him many, many, many times to stay in line or else he’d lose his spot.  Once the boys reached the front of the line on the jumpy slide, D hesitantly went in.  He climbed and then slid down. Climbed up and slid down.  While it wasn’t audible at first, people were starting to get annoyed. I asked him to come out. He did.  Then little brother went in, full speed ahead.  D was so bothered that little brother could do this that he went in after him.

After 5 minutes of waiting, neither of the boys emerged from the maze of inflatable obstacles.  Since the lady monitoring the  slide looked visibly perturbed, I asked if I could go in after them.   Before I went in a parent looked at me and said, “Hmm, my kids were waiting forever behind yours and they went in and came out before yours did.”  With that positive comment, I went in after them.  I found little man at the end of the maze climbing a Mount Everest type of rope climb to the top of a really tall slide.  I pushed him up to the top where he slid down with glee.  I climbed to the top and saw that D had just slid down.  Down I went, big kid on a jumpy house slide.

human hamster wheel www.autismmom.netThe boys had a great time jumping, playing and running.  And then things started to change.  The change was almost instantaneous.  A light switch that was turned off.  I noticed it right after D pet the enormous tortoise (that acted like a lawn mower in his penned off area of the carnival).  I had two carnival tickets left and asked the boys if they wanted to go on one last train ride.  D screamed no.  Probably would have been a good idea to take that as a hint.  But like all tragic moments, hindsight is 20/20.  I herded the boys off to the train.  When I loaded them on, D started getting within 2 inched of little brother’s face and yelling at him.  I had to break up the fight several times before the train left on it’s voyage around the outskirts of the school.  I probably should have seated them in different seats but the ride was crowded. So I had faith that things would be ok and sent them on the ride alone.

And then I heard it.  Little brother’s scream and D right up in his face yelling at him just as they rounded the corner out of my sight.  I’m pretty sure I heard another yelp but couldn’t be sure it was little brother.  When the ride stopped, little brother was crying his eyes out, D was yelling and I could feel embarrassment tinging my cheeks red.  I swept the little one up in my arms and walked home.  D trailed behind, with a mixture of complaints and mean comments yelled as loud as he could muster. I walked as fast as I could with my youngest in my arms.

Upon arrival home the boys were promptly dressed in jammies and sent to bed.

My husband and I talked about it later.  I was so disappointed in D but my husband brought up a good point, he had been very good for the majority of the carnival.  The last 2o minutes wasn’t really representative of how he behaved for the other 2 hours.

I just wish I had just let those $2 orange tickets go and walked home when D was ready.  We should have left while we were still ahead of the game.  But in all reality, the boys will remember the fun times and the tantrum will be buried in the recesses of my mind.  It will be a reminder that things can go from good to bad in less than a minute.  And just as fast, I can help things change for the better.