Gabriel was pretty excited once he saw all the rides and lights too. He watched the coasters and the rides going around with awe.
Dan and I split in seperate directions to cover the whole amusement park faster. I think the place got about 5 times bigger at that moment. I put him in a very bright blue shirt. Apparently many people have bright blue diaper bags! I made a quick trip around the place and then went to the guest services to report him missing. They said this happens a lot and got all the details. I told him his name and also that he won't tell people his name. I had dressed him purposely for this reason. Brown corderoys instead of jeans, a bright Cars shirt with a simple saying on it. A ride operator called in pretty quick saying she thinks he was at her ride, the big coaster. He wanted to go on that one, but the entrance wasn't very well marked so I didn't think he'd find it. We went up to the ride and I didn't see him. She said he was taken to guest services, so we went down there and he was there.
What bothered me most was he seemed indifferent about it all. He didn't seem relieved or anything, it didn't appear to shake him at all. It's so discouraging, because without some seperation anxiety, it's hard to teach him to stay by me and what will happen if he doesn't. He obviously really didn't care, he just wanted to pee and go on that rollercoaster. We took a potty break, told him he can go on the big coaster later if he's good and continued on. Very shaken up, feeling like the most awful parents.
After that he wore the harness. He was very unhappy about that, but it was not negotiable! I gave him the map and had him pick something. He looked so cute walking with the map.
Dawson did get to go on the big coaster. So did I, since he needed a parent to go with him. It's amazing how much changes from the teen years to the parent years. As a teen I went on Wild Thing (huge very tall rollercoaster for those not in this state) 6 times in a row and loved it. Now I can barely survive the scrambler. I thought of all the coasters I'd been on, and really this one was pretty mild. How bad could it be, right? I think having a child to worry about really makes the experience more scary. Constantly worrying about how he was going to do. I was ok with it until suddenly we were sitting there waiting for it to start and I'm looking at the hill thinking "oh crap, now I remember this!". I told Dawson that we're going up that big hill. He smiled and said "yeah!". He was giddy, so excited. We went up and he was still grinning. I asked him many times if he was having fun and he always said yes. We got off and I had to carry him down the steps, crying. Everyone was looking at us like I'd let him go on something too big for him. I'm pretty sure they didn't realize his problem was just that he didn't want to get off! He wanted to go again right away.
Unfortunately I was not about to do the coaster again, at least not right away. I was ready for a break. Not really hungry, but needed a break. Honestly I was still trying to convince my stomach contents to stay put! So eating wasn't really what I wanted most, but everyone else was hungry so we headed in for supper. Dawson ate pretty well, Gabriel ate a lot too. I got to chat with some moms I know. It's great seeing their kids looking so well. I never know how I'll feel going into something like this. Some days I read Caringbridge pages with envy, wondering why they did so well but Tyler didn't. Most of the time lately I've been feeling better about the other kids. It was nice to see how well they all looked and how big they were getting. I saw some moms who we were inpatient with but didn't realize Tyler had died. It's nice to catch up with some people. It's hard when you get to know someone for a few months in the hospital but don't know how their story ended. So it was great to see them so happy and healthy looking.
After supper, Dawson decided he wanted to go on the boats. They have an indoor Flume ride and Daddy had reminded him of this. (dirty looks toward daddy!) Of course I had to go on with him, Daddy "doesn't do rollercoasters". Dawson had turned this ride down last year, thinking it was too scary. So we watched again and I asked him if he's sure he wants to go and he shouted YES! So we went in. He had a little harder time standing in line, but we didn't wait long thankfully. I've been on the Flume once as a teen and said I wasn't doing that again. Children make you do crazy things!
When I got in the boat I thought "oh good, we're behind a big guy, he'll keep us dry". Then as we approached the drop my thoughts were more "oh crap, we have 2 big people in this thing and are going to drop like a rock!" I was so relieved at the bottom, we had survived. Then it went back up a hill and I realized this flume has TWO drops! Crap! The 2nd one was not as fun, for either of us. Dawson was looking a bit shakey as he got off, but by the time we got to the exit he wanted to go do it again. Crazy child! We got back out to Dan and he pointed at the pictures taken on the 2nd drop. Dawson's face looked horrified! Poor kid. He was doing just fine moments before, was even looking forward to the drop. Then I realized, the pictures! They use strobe lights to create good flash for the pictures, and Autistic kids often react to strobes. He couldn't even handle the movie theater. So I really think that was his issue. We had 30 minutes left and I decided no more rides for me, so we went to find something he could go on by himself.
We ended up at the Frog Hopper, he loves that thing! So he went on it about 5 times in a row and used up the rest of his time there.