As Saturday dawned, hot and humid, we decided to take advantage of the AMC Theaters’ “Sensory-Friendly Films”. They were showing BRAVE. I posted it on my personal Facebook page. A few of my friends warned that it was dark and that the (spoiler alert) bears were kind of scary/overwhelming. We decided to brave it (ha ha), anyway.
Jake and Cole really enjoyed it. I swear, not much scares Cole. He just turned to me during one of the more intense scenes and said, in his best monster voice, “Bear–MONSTERS!” Tate asked to leave. I took his cue and asked him to go to the restroom with me. We got up, hopped down the stairs, and found the bathroom. He played with the sinks while I used the facilities. We washed our hands, and then we took a little tour of the lobby area. Once he was able to sit down and “play” with the driving game, he decided he was ready for the movie again by saying, “Let’s go see the bear monsters, now.” Off we went.
Tate handled the movie fairly well. He didn’t like the bears, but he did enjoy other aspects of the film. He even giggled once or twice during the scenes with the main character’s little brothers. Guess he felt simpatico with them. He asked to leave towards the end of the movie, as it was getting very intense, and he does have anxiety with the climax of a movie. I took his lead and we roamed the lobby a bit more. We edged back into the theater. First, we sat on the floor just inside the doors. We could hear the movie, but couldn’t see it. Then, I edged closer to the theater where I could watch the ending. Tate joined me and asked to go sit by his brothers…for the last 5 minutes of the movie.
We left the movie feeling pretty successful. Jake, who had had an honest-to-God tantrum about going to the movies while we were still at home absolutely loved it. He hugged Hubz and thanked him profusely for bringing him. (I’m thinking the kid-pack of popcorn and lemonade we bought didn’t hurt, either.) Cole was happy as a clam, too. He asked about the bear monsters, but then was fine. Tate led the way to the car.
On our way home, Hubz and I suggested going to the local beach after Cole’s nap. Tate and Cole cheered and hollered…they were all over that idea. Cole asked if he could bring his shark goggles and his boat. Tate wanted to go swimming. Jake whined dissent from the back row of the van. He was outnumbered 4 to 1.
Let me just say, getting a family of five to the beach…or anywhere for that matter…is an exercise in logistical expertise. I had snacks to portion out, towels to jam into our bag, a blanket to roll, goggles, buckets, shovels and sand toys to bring, and, oh, yeah, put on my bathing suit and hope that no one mistook me for Shamu. (It didn’t help matters that my suit is black and white–d’oh!) I managed to get the boys in their swim suits and shirts. Hubz took care of himself. I was changing in the bathroom, and Tate ran out the door, ready for action. Hubz has “cat-like” reflexes, and was able to keep Tate from driving the van to the beach himself.
We stuffed the back of the van with all of our beach paraphernalia, and we were off. We hadn’t gotten to the stop sign at the end of our block, and Tate started to complain that his “babing suit” was hurting his [boy parts]. At the stop sign, we let him stand up, readjust, and buckle back up. We had no sooner gotten out of our subdivision, and he started to whine about it again. “My [boy parts] are getting ouchie. I need to take off my shorts.” Hubz was annoyed and yelled at him to settle down. I sighed. Of course…sometimes, okay, often times, Tate does not like the feeling of the mesh “underwear” inside his suits. He hates the feel of that stuff. I can imagine it’s not comfortable and scratchy, and with his SPD, I am sure he was feeling all kinds of discomfort. I reminded myself to figure out a more comfortable suit for next time.
Luckily, we made it to the beach. We had to strong-hold Tate’s hand in the parking lot with a tight grip because he was so ready to get into the water. Once we got safely onto the path leading to the beach, Tate ran waaayyy ahead of us. I was lazy, it was hot, and I wasn’t up for a chase. Yes, I was that mom who shouts her kids name over and over…with no response. It was fab. (For the record, I did eventually break into a jog…in my flip-flops and beach cover-up…I am sure I was a sight to be seen.)
We showed our resident cards, got our wristbands, and stepped onto the sand. Tate dug his toes deep into the sand, feeling the grainy goodness it had to offer. He made a beeline for the water. Hubz ran after him, as I set up our “camp”. Jake grabbed his goggles, and my little fish ran to join his dad and brother splashing in the shallow waters. Cole hung out by me, waiting for his swim vest. I zipped him in, and we waded into the water, as well.
Let me take a moment here to explain that the lake sets off my own sensory disorder. I hate the feeling of the mucky, gloppy, sticky sand-the way it clings and suctions my feet. I despise the feel of seaweed brushing against my legs/feet/arms. The smell of fish, that lake-y smell, just makes my stomach churn, and causes me to occasionally plug my nose. I hate that I can’t see my feet when we get more than shin deep. I want to vomit when I think about the ecoli that is in that water…and the fact that I’m “swimming” in a fish toilet. Oh, and for good measure, there were some ducks sitting on the lake right by the cordoned-off swim area…so not only did we have fish and human waste, I had a very visual reminder of the duck waste that was in there, too. But, I brave it all for my kids, who think the lake is one of the best places ever. *shudder*
The beach was quite a bit of fun, despite my, and my children’s, sensory disorders. The boys swam and splashed and built sand castles. We chased them along the beach. We hung out in the spray park area during the lifeguard breaks, as the boys played gleefully in the chemically-treated water (my kind of water fun). We had a snack of Pringles and fresh grapes and cherries. We managed to stay cool on a hot summer’s day.
Around 5:30 we decided to leave the beach behind. We packed up, and headed out. I had to, again, run after Tate, who was running full speed ahead towards the parking lot. I caught him and we waited for the 3 others. Jake came weaving to and fro up the path with the stroller, laden with our beach gear. He was “driving” like he was under the influence…or was doing the Star Wars Death Star run…either way, he looked adorably awkward, going side to side on the path. I asked where Hubz and Cole went. “Chasing squirrels.” Whuck the whuck?! As Hubz herded Cole our way, he filled me in on the fact that Cole decided to go chase squirrels up a tree on their way back from the beach. Awesome. My child is part dog, apparently.
We survived two outings in one day. This is a feat that we do not take for granted. The fact that Tate was able to handle both activities, each quite over-stimulating in their own right, on the same day, does not just happen. It took loads of therapy and support and realization that we have to do these things at our own pace…but we did them. And no one melted down…and that was our adventurous weekend!
Editor’s Note: After all of the excitement on Saturday, we laid extremely low on Sunday. None of the boys was up for more than a little hose and water basin play in the backyard. Quite honestly, neither were we parents. We let them watch a boatload of tv, too. And you know what, we all did ok.