Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fasten Your Seat Belts! Vacations With M.

It has been a while since we've taken a vacation and Mr. A has been pushing for a trip to Disney World.  My parents are also on the Disney bandwagon.  I've been able to put this off for a while now, but it is becoming more difficult to do so.

What mother doesn't want to take her kids to Disney?  What mother doesn't want their children to experience that quintessential right of childhood passage? 

This mother.

It isn't Disney, per se, it is the logistics of getting there.  Twenty hours by car.  Three and a half hours by plane.  Both of which scare the hell out of me.

In the news recently was a story about a family traveling with a toddler who decided, upon take off, to throw a whopper tantrum.  The pilot turned the plane around, headed back to the gate, and the family was asked to leave the aircraft.

This is one of my fears with M.  To M's credit, he is generally a well behaved boy who understands rules and is capable of following them.  Generally.  There are still days that M, out of the blue, will throw one hell of a tantrum. There have been very public meltdowns with M, red faced, screaming and sweaty, laying on the ground with arms and legs flailing.

The worst tantrum yet occurred a few months ago, just after Christmas.  I was in Target with M and he decided he was done and wanted to leave.  I had things I really needed to buy and told M I wasn't quite done and he would just have to wait a few minutes.

He lost it.

He threw his body face down on the floor, which in winter happened to be wonderful mix of dirt, slush and ice.  He screamed and kicked.  He kicked so hard that his shoe fell off.  I tried to pick him up but he willed his legs to go Jell-O and fell to the ground in a heap.

A crowd gathered to watch this special needs seven year old (who by the way, at five feet tall,  is the height of an average thirteen year old.) go batshit crazy in the housewares department of Target.  I am not sure when this became a spectator sport, but I found myself in the center of the ring going head to head with my son, who now made Linda Blair's "Exorcist"character seem like Mary Poppins.  It was hell.  I was so sure the spectators had bets down on how long it would last or if I would eventually snap and beat my child or simply walk out of the store without him.

I felt the stares of strangers burning my skin as I tried to reason with my cognitively delayed seven year old who is so wound up that he is far beyond reason.  I  heard suggestions made under the breath of those whom I do not know and who do not know me, that my son perhaps needs a good spanking and some old fashioned discipline.

It is an unfortunate reality of having a child with special needs.  These are some of the ugly things we as parents have to deal with.  Through the years my skin has grown a bit thicker and I have learned to do my best to tune out the spectators and focus on my child.  I have learned to keep a poker face until I reach the confines of my own home and can lick my wounds in private.

I go home and look at my child, exhausted and sweaty with a face streaked with tears and dirt.  I look at my child who couldn't care less about the scene he just caused and is now happy as can be because he is finally home again.  I look at him and sigh.  What else can I do?

M is a good boy and these tantrums are usually brought on by his fatigue, a change in his routine or an unfamiliar situation. You can expect all three when you are on vacation.

I am terrified to be that family who is asked to get off the plane.  When there is no leniency for a toddler, how can I expect it for a large boy?

There are times when just the logistics of getting through the day are daunting enough.  I cannot even begin to imagine trying to plan the vacation of a lifetime for M and Miss J.   Even the simple act of talking about it with Mr. A makes me a bit nauseated.

How sad is that?  Try to plan a trip to the happiest place on earth and you want to throw up.

Ive told Mr. A that I will at least think about it. There are a lot of ducks to get into a row first.

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