A family's story

Posts tagged ‘Outdoor Fun’

A Walk in the Park

Yesterday I was feeling a bit overwhelmed as I rolled out of bed at 6:45. Tate’s therapist cancelled her morning session. I decided to do my workout that morning, before his other therapist came at noon. At 8:05, I had another text. The afternoon therapist was cancelling. What the *bleep* was I going to do with my three children ALL.DAY.LONG. A day without therapy. A day out of routine. A day without therapy, out of routine, and less than 2 weeks to go until school. It was a recipe for chaos, or well, more chaos than usual.

I took out my frustration as I followed Jillian Michaels on the TV. I had an audience of three. It was great. And by great, I mean, not. Jake would occasionally do one of the exercises and tell me how easy it was. Why are you sweating so much, Mom?! Tate kept trying to do planks right next to me..and each time, he cracked heads with me. Cole just tried to jump over me as I did plank moves. I was his human hurdle. Yeah.

As I cooled down after the workout, my phone rang. It was my friend, Em. I hadn’t heard from her in ages..and ironically, was thinking of checking in to see how they were doing. She asked if we had plans for the day. For once, we did not. She invited me and my chaos to join her and her chaos at a forest preserve not far from where we live. It was a gorgeous day, so I figured, why the heck not. At the very least, we could get some of our the boys’ energy out while at the park portion of the forest preserve.

Before the park, I had to stop at the boys’ elementary school. I had to reserve the school gym for Cub Scout Pack meetings for Hubz. We had to wait a while before I could talk to the admin. I was so proud of my boys. While they act like wild savages at home, they all sat down in the school office, grabbed some of the books, and began to read. Even Tate was reading a book. I thanked the Lord above for their amazeballs behavior during that half hour stint in the sticky, somewhat stale-smelling office.

After that excursion, we drove the half hour to the forest preserve. I am ashamed to admit that after living in this county for 13 years, I had never been to this particular location. We will definitely be going back. The boys had so much fun at the park, and there were so many more activities that they’ll enjoy–fishing, boating, walking trails, and a bike path. And it is fun that is NOT in front of the TV or computer.

Everyone had a buddy as we walked from the parking lot to the park. As we approached the park gate, Em and I unleashed our children in the park. It was very obvious which of the 7 children were special needs. Em’s oldest and her friend, as well as Cole, just went. They approached the various apparatus with gusto. They tried everything out that they knew they could handle. Jake, always filled with a little trepidation, tried things very slowly. The rock wall was almost a downfall for him–he was almost paralyzed with frustration, until I pointed out that he had scaled a much higher rock wall all the way to the top at Cub Scout camp. With that, he was up and over the wall. Tate and Em’s son were stimming. As Tate had to wait his turn, he flapped. Em’s son did a little stomp. Both were looking for sensory input from their siblings. Em’s middle daughter walked to and fro. She’s non-verbal and is starting to communicate with devices and gestures. She had to be prompted on the equipment. However, there was no mistaking the joy that each child felt. It’s just that, like with everything else in life, our kiddos were enjoying the park at their own pace.

Unlike the other moms with children our children’s ages, Em and I were on the playground the entire time. We were observing, we were coaching, we were hyper-alert.To say that the park wasn’t stressful would be a lie. But it was enjoyable. Quite enjoyable. Watching the smiles, hearing the squeals of joy, seeing the kids all interact. That was completely worth it.

After about 2 hours Tate was done. D.O.N.E., done. So was Em’s son. We chuckled at the fact that our sons were on the same wavelength–as always. Tate was able to tell me with words that he was finished and wanted to go home. Em’s son started to melt a bit…but was able to tell her “all done”. Both of us knew how huge these occurrences were for each other’s child. We said our goodbyes over the whining and pleading boys, and promised to carve out a coffee date once the kiddos were back in school.

So, even though there were some tough parts about going to the park, it was surprisingly easier than I had expected…because I was there with someone who lives this. Who didn’t need an explanation. Who doesn’t feel sorry for me or my kids. Who just totally gets when something goes from absolute fun to meltdown city in the blink of an eye. And there’s a lot of comfort in that. Yesterday was a walk in the park…kind of. And we did enjoy it.

Mostly Wordless Wednesday

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Cole and Tate enjoy our tiny pool…loads of water fun yesterday!

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Tate enjoys the outdoors with he latest Doc and Lambie. (This one sings and talks. I am regretting this purchase already.)

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Cole and Tate play outside while Hubz mows the lawn.

Summer vacation has arrived! The boys are enjoying there increased free time outdoors. Of course, notice who is conspicuously absent from all of these photos. A certain 9 year old who thinks his summer vacay is all about TV and video games. He’s mistaken. While these photos were shot, he was sulking in the shadows because Hubz or I pulled the plug on electronics. Meanest parents ever. Just so you know.

A Little Push

Yesterday was rough. Like throwing-in-the-towel-on-parenting rough. Cole had tested me all. Day. Long. He ran into parking lots. He didn’t listen. He laughed at me. He lost privileges. He sat in time out. I wanted to cry.

My nerves were shot. My patience gone. It all came to an ugly head at the park last night… where an entire U9 team of boys and some of their parents saw me lose it. Not pretty. Not pretty at all.

I am ever grateful to Hubz, who swooped in, grabbed the offender (Cole), and while chuckling a bit, told me to go play with Tate while he took Cole home for insubordination. (Hubz reminded me, using logical arguments was not going to work with a 2 year-old. Which I knew, but I was not in a happy place.)

So, they left, and Tate asked to be pushed on the swing. I obliged, trying to clear my head of the ridiculousness that had just occurred. We were chatting a bit when a boy about his size came over and sat on the swing next to him. He actually asked Tate if he could swing there. Without looking at the boy, Tate said sure.

I pushed Tate again, and then stepped away to watch Jake. In those moments, something amazing happened. Tate interacted with the boy on the swing. Awkwardly, but appropriately.
“What’s your name?”
“I, Tate.”
“Tate, pump like this….out, in, out, in…”
“Yeah. I need a push, Mom.”

I walked back. I asked the little boy his name. “Z” I told Tate he could have one push, but then he should pump (he can do it) like Z.
“Can I have underdog underwear push, please?”
“You got it.”
“Wheeeeeee!”
“Um, Tate’s mom, I wish I could have an underdog push.”

I gave Z a big underdog, and then watched as he encouraged Tate to pump. And then it happened…..upon Z’s urging, Tate started pumping! Ohmygoshitwassofreaking awesome!!

From there, Z and Tate climbed on the play structure. Together. Z would make a statement, and Tate would respond. For serious!!

“Mom. Mommy! Come push us, here!” Tate shouted from the merry-go-round.

I pushed them and these boys laughed together. They interacted. They were having fun.

From the merry-go-round they went to the slides and monkey bars. Z asked Tate if he wanted to play. Tate said yes. To Z. While establishing eye contact. 
The boys chased each other over the bridge and down slides. They played on the monkey bars. Z initiated monkey sounds–‘cuz they were monkeys. Tate followed. He then made a monkey sound and directed it at Z. Z made one back.

“Look at us here, Mommy, We’re monkeys. Ooh-ooh, aah, aah.”
Z chimed in with his own monkey sound.

I felt a lump in my throat. Tears welled in my eyes. I took a deep breath. Cleared my throat.

“Yes, yes you are, Tater Tot.”

They played for about 5 more minutes. It was all kinds of wonderful. Eventually, Hubz and Cole came back…and a few neighbors were with them. They joined Tate and Z. Tate, exhausted from the social interaction, quietly retreated to the swings again.

Hubz pushed him, and I excitedly told him about the playtime. We high fived each other…and Tate. Tate ran back to join the other children. He was a little more on the periphery this time, but still in the mix.

He actually tried a part of the apparatus that had caused great anxiety in the past. Our neighbor’s daughter helped him by talking him through it. When he finished, she was the first to praise him. More high-fives!

For a neurotypical child that was just another day at the park. For Tate, though, that was a milestone. A big one. Weeks of working with therapists at the park, of us playing with him and his brothers there all came down to this… and what seemed like such a little push from me was a huge leap for him.

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