Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nickelodeon Universe

Sunday was the event through the Children's Hospital Oncology ward. They gave us wristbands for the amusement park inside the Mall of America and also served supper. We headed out prepared and hopeful for a good trip. Had the child harness, baby carrier and the stroller, just to have all things covered. We had a peaceful drive there and Dawson was excited to go on rides. He asked me many times on the way "go to rides?" and I'd tell him that yes, we're still going to rides. I think he gets nervous on those long trips, thinking we may have to change our minds or something. Plus heading to the cities is always an emotional thing since most of our trips there were for the hospital. He had fallen asleep before we got to the mall, but when we were parked in the ramp facing the building he woke up. I said "Look!" and Dawson got an excited look on his face and said "yay, Walmart!". Well, it was a brick building...  So I told him the rides are in there and he got even more excited. :)

Gabriel was pretty excited once he saw all the rides and lights too. He watched the coasters and the rides going around with awe.
 Dawson was so excited he could barely contain it
 There were times he really didn't contain much either! ;)
 I saw this picture when I got home and thought Wow! Sometimes I'll catch glimpses that look so much like Tyler. This was definitely one of them. He was waiting in line for his very first ride.
 They rode the Blue's Clues ride first. It was Dawson's first favorite cartoon and he still thinks it's very neat to see this one.
 Gabriel on his first ride. He wasn't quite sure what to think of it.
 He looks so tiny on there!
 Gabriel on his first ride. He decided this was pretty fun.
 Watching some more rides while snacking on some crackers.
 Swings! I let Dawson choose what rides he went on next. He did so great waiting in lines! I was very impressed. Last year he was throwing himself to the ground and crying, not understanding why we had to wait in a line. This year he stood so well. He got off the ride and waited for us to decide where to go next. Sometimes we'd stop and give Gabriel another cracker or something and he would stand and wait for us. Last year he was trying to run ahead and ended up either in the stroller or the harness and wasn't happy about it at all.
 Dawson got to ride a pig on the Carousel.
 Gabriel got to ride a lion! It didn't go up and down, which was preferred anyway. Plus we just had to put him on a lion in honor of Tyler. It was his favorite animal.
 Kid coaster!
 He got off the kid coaster and we were getting ready to move on to the next ride. I turned around and he wasn't standing behind Dan anymore. We had a couple little scares already that day, but he had just moved and was standing on the other side of me or something. He'd been so good! So I looked around us and the rails by the rides to see if he was watching something and didn't see him. I checked to see if he'd gotten back in line and he hadn't. We looked around the nearest corners and nothing there anyway. He was gone, in the Mall of America.

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.
 We went on the hot air ballon ride. Gabriel went with us on that one and liked it. He clapped and looked all around at the lights and colors of it all. He never acted scared on any of the rides. Just very curious and observant.
 Pretty lights up there
 Dawson wanted to go on the bus. He's been on this before at the county fair and did very good sitting still by himself.
 Gabriel was very impressed
 It went high up in the air!
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.
 Gabriel was wiped out by this point. So much excitement for one day. We went home, very happy to have both kids with us, still shaken up about Dawson getting lost. Happy that Gabriel got to experience fun new things and that Dawson still got to have so much fun.

1 comment:

Bobbi Watley said...

You are such a great mom. I don't think I could do any kind of a roller coaster, kiddie or not, even to make my kids day. I'm just too much of a wimp when it comes to amusement park rides.. It looks like you had a great day - in spite of Dawson getting lost - and even so, you have a great story to tell out of the deal!