Thursday, October 28, 2010

Perception and the Pumpkin Patch

Today, Austin, Kaleigh, my father in-law and I all went to the annual preschool field trip to the pumpkin patch.  Last year was extremely hectic with both kids, so I decided this year, I was going to bring someone along to help.  Now, it went much better than last year but it still had its moments.

We drove up and met the class at the pumpkin patch.  When we first arrived Austin was very excited, jumping and spinning around.  He stops if you tell him to and I have to go over and explain to him that he must calm down.  He has been told if he gets too excited, we must leave, it works and he settles quite quickly.  We all gathered and had snack before heading out on the wagon ride to get our pumpkins.  Austin and Kaleigh sat quietly and ate their snack with children running and jumping around them and they didn't even leave their seats! WOO HOO!  One hurdle down without incident!  YAY!  (Last year, snack time at this event was a disaster!)

Next, time to leave to get our pumpkins.  I would say at least 30 people (parents and children combined) were on the wagon pulled by a tractor that does 5 km/hr ... :D (if I don't laugh, I'll cry!)  Now, all the children are anxiously awaiting the arrival at the pumpkin patch.  It takes a few minutes to ride out there.  Once we arrive, we are all in line to get off the wagon.  Keeping the kids in a orderly line is difficult to say the least with all the parents and commotion.  We head towards the front and we are next to get off when I notice a woman with two children standing beside the opening and no one has let her off yet.  I figured we would let her out since she has been waiting so patiently and it is the polite thing to do.  Before I can say "please go ahead" my father in-law tells Austin to wait and let the lady out with the kids.  No way Austin was willing to wait.  Good Lord ... here we go!  My father in-law tells him to stop again but he won't, I think he tried get him but he was not within reach.  I got a hold of Austin's arm and told him to "wait"!  "LET GO OF MY ARM!  LET GO OF MY ARM!  LET GO OF MY ARM!"  I responded, "I am not letting go."  The woman who we were letting out, just stood there staring at this display as did the entire wagon of people behind me.  I motioned her to go when Austin had stopped screaming ... she said "thank you".  We all filed behind and on our way we went to "happily" (well, some of us) get pumpkins.

Now, I would like to elaborate on the "perception" part of this post.  Not my perception or even yours (because I am sure many of you have been where I was standing just a few hours ago) but the people on the wagon, their perception of Austin screaming.  I have told him over and over not to react like this because someone could misperceive the situation.  I do not like to have to hold onto him or carry him anywhere if he is protesting because I am afraid someone will get the wrong impression.  I do not want someone to think he is being harmed when he is not.  It is really a scary thing to me.  These people behind me (except the teachers, they know because they have to deal with Austin like this too ... thank God someone understands what is going on) all stopped.  If my son is melting down and I am standing over him or cuddling him, no problem, he is not reactive.  The same cannot be said if I have to hold him when he is trying to get away, like today.  It affects me because I have no idea what people are thinking.  Do you get it?  I am sure you get it ...

The rest of the trip went very well and Austin had a blast ... he painted his pumpkin without mixing all the paint colours together!  YAY!  (Last year he made a little guy cry because he wouldn't stop mixing until all the colours were one and he had black ... he painted his whole pumpkin black ... oh my!  I stood there apologizing to this little boy's mother, who was very understanding, thank God!)  So this was a huge achievement for Austin.  He did GREAT!  He also ran through the corn maze (which I may add, made me a little nervous, so I tried to keep up to make sure he is okay) and found his way out all on his own ... he was so proud, so was I!  He was so happy!  :)

I guess I know that if 9 out of 10 things go well, I should be happy and usually I am but sometimes how other people perceive something really hits me where it hurts.  It is really heartbreaking when your son is yelling at you to let go and all you want to do is let him go but you can't ... what else are you to do, really?  I had to drop off Austin at school after the trip and the teacher patted my on the back, smiled at me (she "gets it") and held my arm as I walked away, just to reassure me ... "it's all good". 

There is a lot of positives that came out of today though ... Austin had so much fun and he even picked out a pumpkin for me (what a sweetie).  He came in and out of that maze like he had run it a 100 times, he responded when I started to count "1, 2 ..." and left without protest.  I like to focus on the good but we need to acknowledge our challenges too ...

I would like to thank someone dear to me (she knows who she is) for she picks me up when I need it and helps me along on this journey more than she will ever know ... thanks hon, what would I do without you?  You have helped pave the road I walk now, thank you ... I LOVE YOU!  *HUGS* everyone! 


The Maven said...

Others' perception of a parenting situation has always been a struggle for us, too. With two hearing impaired children, I often have to speak up more than usual (especially in a crowded, noisy area) and I probably sound like I'm yelling or at least being loud and demanding.

And our anxious little Gutsy... Well, what can I say? How often do people try to throw in their 2 cents about how we parent and how we "let him get away" with things? How we don't have enough consequences for his behaviour, or how we coddle him too much. Unless they've walked a mile in our shoes, they just don't know. It can be frustrating, humiliating, and sad. It's hard enough have special needs kids without feeling judgment or misunderstanding. Thank goodness for people who get it - like the wonderful teachers at Austin's school, or Gutsy's amazing grade 2 teacher :)

I really feel for you. I know I'm always saying this and you're probably sick of it, but you do SUCH a great job, every single day. Keep trudging (((Hugs)))

Mommie That Gets It said...

Thanks Maven, as usual, I appreciate your support and understanding ... *HUGS*! I know you have been through so much more than me and you should wear a Mommy Metal ... swear, it is true! :)

There is a happy ending to this story, it was not easy to get to, a bit of time in Austin's room and no games or TV but I finally got through. I told him if he wants me to let go he has to say "I will stay Mommie, please let go" and I will. We did this over and over until he got it. He just told me now again when I asked him, awesome job my little boy! I know that it is so hard for him because he cannot always articulate what he wants at that moment but as you know, not everyone knows that ... they just see the upset. Anyway, another lesson learned ... not an easy lesson but a lesson no less.

Thanks Maven you are so sweet! You know I think you do an awesome job too! Thanks ... I will do my best hon! KISSES for you! :)

Max said...

Another wonderful post that hits so close to home for me. I completely sympathize with you for I am in the same boat on a regular basis. It is so difficult to make it through a public appearance and not have parents that are ready to throw daggers at you or call child protective services. We went trick or treating last night. Here I am with the Thomas the Train costume Ethan had so desperately wanted in my hands(which he demonstrated by weeks and hours of temper tantrums). When to much of my surprise Ethan decided that even though he had practically slept in it the week before, it didn't feel good last night. You would have thought I was asking him to wear a blanket of thorns over his sweat suit. Anyways, off we go in the wagon to trick or treat now as a jogger instead of as a thomas the train, but oh well. I was appalled at how many people gave us dirty stares or comments about that parent should make him walk, and he is too old to be pulled around like that. And when Ethan decided to have a meltdown in the middle of the neighborhood because a piece of his candy dropped into the wagon and didn't stay in the bucket, it looked like I had done something horrific to him because I was trying to control his flailing body and quiet his ear piercing screams. I hear all the same comments any time we go in public. I hear, what a brat, that parent should control her child, and you must be harder on him, don't give in to him. Man I really wish I could just wear a sign that says shut the bleep up and mind your own business, you don't know me and you don't know my son, we are doing the best we can do. I hear these things on a regular basis from strangers and my own family. I hear it so much that I hardly ever take Ethan in public. We go to the Park when the other kids are having dinner, and I try to get sitters so I can go to the grocery. I am holding out hope that maybe one day (with lots of therapy and practice, and a little patience) we will actually be able to go shopping together or out to eat as a family.

Reading your blog helps me and reminds me that I am not alone and it gives me hope that things will get better with time. So thank you for always giving me that glimmer of hope:)*HUGS* To you and your family and keep up the great work! Austin is only making so much progress because he has a mommy that truly gets his needs and does everything in the world to help him make it in this world!
Thanks again,

Mommie That Gets It said...

Hi Becky *HUG*! Thank you so much for supporting my blog and your comments. They touch my heart!

Thank you. I know, some family members think I am overreacting to Austin's dramatic reactions. As you know, it is scary. People don't know that he is on the spectrum. "Parenting under an electron microscope" is what I call it.

I am sorry to hear about the costume. It is almost like Austin with the decorations, loves them outside but inside is a no no! It is hard when we don't know whether our children will zig or zag when dealing with the same decoration, or in Ethan's case, a costume. Could it be that he was a bit anxious to go Trick or Treating? (I just did a new post about Austin's outing lastnight. I think you would enjoy reading it ... it is to give people hope ... big change from 3 to 5 for Austin.)

I so get what you are saying. If anything, I find we have more patience for our children. I mean, come on, we have to! I wish people who look at us like that could spend just a day in our shoes, how long do you think they would last? Not long I can assure you.

I just said the other day, I was going to tattoo an Autism ribbon on my forehead or run around with Autism Speaks shirt on! Really!

I can tell you, it will get better for you and Ethan ... it will! Just wait until you can take him for a DQ ice cream and he will sit in the chair to whole time to eat it!

Thank you so much Becky. You are the reason I write this blog. Your last comments have brought tears to my eyes, thank you so much! *HUGS* to you and all the best to you and your family! Ethan has a pretty great Mommie too! Good for you! You are doing an amazing job!

You're very welcome and thank you! :)