Every once in awhile I am struck by the absolute paradox that is my son.
Following the rough time he had on the 4th of July, we gave him a completely down day yesterday. He needed a day of quiet and relative solitude to recover. Toward the end of the day I asked him if he felt he could go out in the world today, and he said “depending on how crowded it will be.”
This morning he woke up recharged and willing to be out in the world. So even though it is over 90 degrees and super humid where we are staying in NJ, we decided to venture out to an animatronic dinosaur exhibit about an hour away.
The car ride was great – no panic even when we were stopped in some traffic. The first couple hours we were there were great – he was happy, engaged and interacting with the rest of us. After lunch we wandered into a scheduled educational talk and were lucky enough to be the only ones attending.
Both of my kids were super involved in conversation with the educator. My son’s “little professor” tendencies were in full force – dinosaurs were an early and avid obsession so he was able to ask complex questions and answer her questions with intricate detail. The educator giving the talk was clearly impressed.
When we left there, the kids had a minor disagreement about where to go next. Combined with the heat, that disagreement was enough to “flip the coin”. He quickly became irritable, anxious and disengaged. As we were walking on the “dinosaur trail”, he walked far ahead of the rest of us and snapped in response to even basic questions.
Had we stayed much longer, I don’t doubt he would have had either a panic attack or an angry outburst. Luckily we were pretty much done, so we were able to get out before that happened – meaning everybody (son, daughter, grandparents & us) will be able to preserve nothing but good memories from the outing.
Today we were able to make it all work. He was out in the world, engaged and happy. But when the coin flipped and he was close to having a problem, we were able to get him out and head home. And the memory I will hold from the day is the look on the educator’s face when my son looked at an impression of a dinosaur skull and was able to correctly indentify which dinosaur it belonged to!