Well, it's been a busy week. Still volunteering at camp, and this Friday we went to Birmingham and stayed overnight. (How is it that driving, where all you do is sit, push pedals and turn the wheel, is so exhausting?) The Autism Society of Alabama had a Group Leader's conference, and since my wife has the local group she was invited. We got to see Mr. Tumlin, our good friend, meet some more people, and Tracy learned some new things - like her walk last April took in almost $4000! W00t!
The trip went pretty well. The hotel had a pool, so Xander and I got to swim, and he handled it very well. Perhaps common with other autistic parents, we've discovered that giving him a countdown - we're stopping in ten minutes, five, four, etc. - does help them get ready to transition to stopping something he likes. Such as swimming. He got to spend almost two hours at a time, and quit when told to. He also spent almost the whole time in the pool without his life jacket, and loved it. I'm not sure I'll tell the camp here to let him swim without it - he seemed to do that preliminary kind of swimming, where you bounce off the bottom of the pool, gulp some air, and thrash a bit. You know, the kind that tends to attract some attention from lifeguards and curious passerby.
The trip was much, much better than last year's for us - Xander and me.
Last year, Xan had one of THOSE NIGHTS the night before our trek. The kind where you warn, warn again, explain just in case they don't understand, warn again for the last time, warn AGAIN for the last last time, warn for the absolute last time, threaten to punish, re-emphasize the punishment, and finally after exhausting every last possible chance and nerve, take something away.
In this case, I said he couldn't swim.
However, I did pack his swimsuit and life jacket at the last minute. Because, as probably every parent knows, as soon as you take away something major from a child they tend to do something that makes you burst with pride...and you can't reward them with their favorite thing, since you took it away. Betting the odds in my irony-filled life, I figured that would happen.
I want to point out that as it was at the last minute, they were kinda shoved in. Somewhere. I think...
Of course, Xan did something good. I think I was getting a headache, so we were stuck in the room, and there was nothing on TV to keep him interested. I begged for some peace and quiet, and he let me sleep uninterrupted for a couple of hours. For any child, much less autistic, this may rank as a minor miracle. So I said, okay big guy, you can go swimming.
I think you can guess where this goes.
Tear through the suitcase. Can't find the swimsuit. Didn't bring an extra one, because why think ahead?
Xan, completely understandably, gets mad. I said he could swim as a reward, bragged on it, made sure to point out he did very good so he gets to swim...and then he doesn't. He had a fit. A fit, not a meltdown. The difference between the two is like watered down Tabasco sauce and a habanero pepper, a slight cough versus pneumonia, or not getting arrested and almost getting arrested.
The fit reached such heights that I took away the swimming again. But I had to admit I was mostly at fault here, so that night, before going to a Group Leader's dinner, we'd stop at some shop and get him a new swimsuit. Unfortunately, Xander is like a usual child when it comes time for clothes shopping and expressed his dislike of the activity. Loudly. Emphatically. So I gave up. He was in such a bad mood we skipped out on the dinner, just dropping Tracy off and going back to the hotel.
Long night ensued.
Next day. D-day.
Tracy had some more meeting and we had to check out of the hotel long before she was done. So we went back to the mall, to a bookstore. I love books and Xander likes them, so I figured it would be a good place to kill some time, and perhaps after we'd check out the rest of the mall.
There was some kind of stage set up there. Xander, who had picked out some books he wanted, handed them to me and went up there and did his twirling. There were some little scenes set up, and he kept knocking them over. A repeat of warn, re-warn, on and on happened until finally that parental magic moment of ENOUGH was reached and I said that's it, we're leaving, and you can't get these books.
THEN the meltdown happened.
As spectacles go, it was pretty entertaining for anyone not directly involved in it. Screaming - and I mean screaming, not a slightly raised voice - check. Red face, check. Flinging himself on the floor, check. Banging his head with nice thunky sounds on the floor, check. After a fruitless attempt to calm him down, I get him up, grab his arm, restrain his head, and start dragging him to the door amid a chorus of incoherent screams and fighting.
If you think this looked more than a little suspicious, you think like a policeman. To be more specific, like the policeman who happened to be in the store.
A bit of polite questioning occurred, which luckily was helped along by my having some Kids ID cards of Xander which clearly showed he was my son, something I had had made for emergencies...not this specific one, but still. And by then Xan had calmed down, perhaps giving me some mercy and answering some questions about his name and birthday and the like that matched the ID cards.
We ended up sitting in the car outside, waiting for Tracy, for over an hour.
The lost swimsuit was the first thing unpacked.
I almost gave myself a concussion slapping my forehead.