This weekend was really the first ‘nice’ weekend of the year (if you’re into all that ‘go and play outside’ crap – I could deal with a few more weeks of cold-and-dry weather myself for my curling), so after spending Saturday with prepping to go to the birthday party, we decided yesterday mandated an out-of-house trip.
And we left it to the Monster to pick where we were going. Were we going to go to the Zoo, or go to the park?
As we’ve mentioned, and as any other parent of a child with Autism knows, this isn’t an easy question. After a good fifteen minutes of trying to get him to focus enough to answer the question either verbally or non, we finally got the answer that he wanted to go to the playground.
We have two fairly good playgrounds near our house – the neighborhood one that’s fenced in and has a decent rubber-padded playset thing, and the regional park that’s a bit further away, but has two playsets and a walking trail/jogging path around athletic fields. It was to the latter one that we went yesterday, since I wanted to get in some walking if we were going at all, and so after bundling the kids into the car, we headed over there. And for a good hour, we were fine.
Our only real problem came when the Monster got fixated on a puddle. The park in question has a couple of drainage ditches near the playground – natural low spots that the walking trails are built over with bridges and/or actual pipes – and because of the recent rain, there’s still some water collected there. The Monster decided he wanted to sit by one of them and toss pebbles into it to watch the water ripple and splash, and got fixated on the matter. I gave him a few minutes to do it, despite my feeling that it made me look like a ‘bad parent’ for doing so… and then decided that enough was enough, and it was time to go back for a break with his mother and brother for water, which meant my trying to dissuade him from his new favorite activity. Begin meltdown.
I suppose I should be grateful that a) he’s still small enough for me to lift physically, and b) I no longer have of a sense of shame of walking a few hundred feet with a kicking, screaming child tossed over my shoulder like a bag of potatoes with hundreds of other people to bear witness to the affair.
We then all took a walk to try to get him back into a calmed down mode and to get some exercise, which was mostly spent with him riding on the back seat of our two-seater stroller, and at least one good run to let him burn off some energy… and against our better judgement, we ended up back at the playground to give it a second go. Like the first time, he spent a few minutes on the playset, and then it was off to the puddle again to entertain himself. At least this time, I was ready when the meltdown came when it was time to go…
Just another day parenting a child with Autism out in public. Le sigh.