One of the most difficult aspects of Fragile X for Duhdee and I is managing our expectations when we are planning activities with Monkey. It may be that we’re excessively childish, as I sit here I’m listening to Duhdee scold one of our fish for disturbing a plant in the tank so that seems rather likely, but I think we’re actually fairly typical first time parents. There are so many things we want to experience with Monkey and we get rather excited about them and sometimes that excitement means we get carried away.
Every summer we take a family vacation in the mountains of Maine with my family. They have a second home there and we enjoy spending a couple weeks fishing, riding the quads, shopping at yard sales and just generally relaxing with my parents and younger sister. This past summer we decided to take 3 days and drive across the border into New Hampshire to visit one of my favorite places as a child, Storyland. We had learned that if you buy tickets after 3 you are given free tickets to use any other day that season so we showed up at 3:10 intending to get our free tickets and spend the final 3 hours of the day playing.
This is a classic example of how we let ourselves get carried away with our excitement. We entered the park and had Monkey on his first ride within 15 minutes. It was a roller coaster. Now, pick up your jaws. We fully recognize the error of our ways but at the time it really did seem like a good idea. And, in our defense, it was a really scaled down roller coaster.
Anyway, a quick ride on the Polar Coaster, followed by a quick ride on the Cuckoo Clockenspiel resulted in a totally shut down Monkey. The picture that Duhdee took of Monkey and I on the Clockenspiel is painful to see. You see me, grinning like a fool (who is determined to have FUN DAMMIT), and you see Monkey on my lap. You can tell just by looking at his eyes that he’s gone. It’s just awful. I look at that picture and want to slap myself. Monkey recovered himself just enough to scream and cry bloody murder until we finally dragged ourselves out of the park, defeated, depressed, and ready to quit. We agreed that Storyland was a very bad idea and we had every intention of trashing those free tickets.
The next day we had plans at another area attraction. Remind me to tell you sometime about what a HORRIBLE idea it is for a mom who is afraid of heights to take her just turned 3 year old child with FX on a 60 minute round trip ski lift ride. Oh, wait, sane people don’t need anyone to tell them that that is an exceedingly bad idea. Never mind.
Anyway, during the next day I spent a lot of time pondering the mistakes we had made at Storyland. Duhdee and I had agreed that we weren’t going back but I really thought it could be fun for Monkey if we approached it right. I finally told Duhdee that I wanted to go back. He thought I was crazy but he’s a good sport and decided to let me get my way.
The next day, after we were completely packed and ready to leave town, we stopped at Storyland. We could stay for as long or as little as he wanted. We decided that we’d go in the park and just walk around. Even if all we did was take ONE walk around the park we were going to be OK with that. After we’d been walking for a while we came upon the Carousel. We knew from experience that Monkey would like this so we got on and stayed for 6 rides! It was the perfect introduction for him. After we left that area we found a play structure with stairs and slides. Monkey spent a ½ hour playing and decompressing from the carousel. We then continued on and alternated a low key ride with an even lower key activity and we all had a great time. We spent several hours in the park that day and didn’t for a minute regret going back.
I wish with all my heart that I had the sort of “common sense” that would have told me that first day that we were approaching this all wrong but I seem to need to fail (badly) in order to learn the error of my ways. I’m so grateful that Monkey is so resilient and that he continues to love and trust me even though I clearly don’t always get it right.