Family Fun Day

Her one request all summer long was to go to the amusement park with the water park. At least once a day she asked when we were going. I promised it would be before school started. She didn’t seem to believe me though. Day after day we heard the same comments, “We won’t have enough time to go, it’s going to rain, you will never take me.” Finally though, the date went up on her calendar. Yes we were going to the amusement park. And now the focus in her head was the weather. “It’s going to rain we won’t be able to get in. ”

The day came and the sun was shining. The humidity was down too. It was the perfect day to spend at an amusement park. As we were driving and getting closer however I see the big black clouds that we are beginning to head into. I was hoping she wouldn’t notice the raindrops as they started to fall on the windshield. I purposely didn’t put on the windshield wipers. She noticed. She wanted to go home. No way were we going home as we just pulled into the parking lot. It was summer rain. It only lasted a few minutes and the sun came shining through. We were saved.

Into the park we went and headed straight to the water park. This is what we had been waiting for all summer long. Her bathing suit had been on since early in the morning. And there we were and she wouldn’t do anything. She stood in the same spot in water up to her ankles for over an hour. We coaxed, we suggested, we asked why, we asked if she wanted to leave. She insisted that she wanted to stay right where she was. We stood next to her and waited. This is when mom and dad patience comes into play. Again we tried to coax her into the water. We tried very hard to get her to go in. Kids were running everywhere laughing and having a blast. And there stood our daughter, frozen in her tracks, stone faced.

Finally she said she was done with the water park and wanted to go on some rides. We were more than happy to reply to her request. At last it was time to see our daughter having fun with a smile on her face. We walked around the park and as we passed each ride we asked her if she wanted to go on. “Yes, no, I don’t know,” she couldn’t make up her mind. We passed the ride that cracked her up last year. It’s a water ride that gets you totally soaked. She dragged me on last year and laughed and laughed seeing her mother dripping wet. I asked if she wanted to go on. “Yes, no, I don’t know,” was her answer. We tried to get her to go on but in the end she said, ” I got wet at the water park.” I think to myself, really that is your excuse. You got your toes wet. I will admit however I was relieved that we avoided the ride. Walking around soaked to the bone is not something I find enjoyable. I would have gladly gone on though with a smile on my face if she had wanted to go on. We walked and walked around the park several times. She went on one ride asked for an ice cream and we were done.

It should have been more fun. How can you go to a water park and not get wet? How can you resist the fun of going on a ride? Driving home I was disappointed that the day my daughter had been looking forward to all summer was not filled with excitement and smiles.

When we got home she was very tired and went to bed early. I sat with her before she fell asleep and talked about our day. She told me she had a good time and a lot of fun. After all of the misery that I had put myself through thinking that she was having an awful time, she really was enjoying herself. Sometimes we forget that just because we experience things a certain way doesn’t mean our daughter does.

This is where that communication piece plays a part. Our daughter is very verbal. She can speak very well and carry on a conversation. She has a hard time however expressing herself. She was not able to tell us at the amusement park that she was perfectly fine doing nothing. Instead she listened to us question her all day long. She should have told us to stop talking and be quiet.

We all want our children to be happy and sometimes we push our beliefs on them. Most children will let you know what they do and don’t like. Often times we enroll our kids into classes and programs that we think will be fun and exciting but turn out to be just the opposite. Typical kids will tell you that they don’t like it. It’s harder to figure that out with our kids that can’t verbally communicate it. You find yourself second guessing yourself a lot of the time.

The same thing holds true for school. A lot of our kids can’t verbally communicate what works and doesn’t work for them. As parents it’s up to us with the help of the IEP team to figure it out. We need to set realistic goals based on our child’s needs and not on our own personal needs. Just because you are very social and enjoy being around a lot of people doesn’t mean your child does. We all want our kids to be social and have friends. We set up goals to try and teach them how to be social on the playground and in the cafeteria. What if however your child prefers not to be social? What if they are happy just to stand in the sidelines and watch? Perhaps you are a very athletic person and enjoy playing sports. You put a goal in your child’s IEP that they will participate in all gym activities. What if your child dislikes gym and has no interest in playing sports? I’m not saying that you should never try to teach your child these things. Absolutely put those goals in the IEP. They are important. By all means give them the opportunity to succeed.

Sometimes however our kids don’t succeed. We as parents usually blame the school for not following through. And yes sometimes it is the school’s fault. Sometimes however it’s just our child letting us know that they don’t like what they are being asked to do. Sometimes we are in denial that our child does not like the same things we do. If they could tell us that, life would be much easier. We can’t assume how they are feeling based on how we react to certain things. Every child is unique and has their own way of communicating their needs.

It’s been a long day. My daughter is exhausted and in bed from all the fun she had. This exhausted mom is heading to the couch with an adult beverage in hand and is going to silently communicate her needs.

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