"Mom, how does the Tooth Fairy fly through the air?"
"How do YOU think?"
"I think moms do it."
"But how can a Mom be a Tooth Fairy?"
"Good moms are lots of things, Princess."

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Break, Day One-Half

School dismissed at noon and the children descended like a plague of locusts. I fed them, and we headed off to Crazy Bounce to meet a friend and her children. Crazy Bounce turned out to be better than my wildest dreams. A h-Uge room filled with ginormous inflatable slides and bouncy things. Clean. No music. No flashing lights. An OT dream: walls to throw yourself into, super-fast slides, a bungy cord to pull against and go flying backwards. Narrow tunnels to get squished in. Padded sticks and balls to get hit with. Amazing. Buddy, Peanut, the Cuddle Bear and their friends tore back and forth throughout the building with looks of nothing but sheer joy on their faces; it was a pleasure to watch.

Within five minutes I started to realize the one I had not seen tear past was Princess. I started to watch for her. Five minutes later my friend and I started to look for her. Two turns around the place and we still did not see her. Her shoes were still there, so I knew she had not left. She's not a wanderer-off-on-her-own, and even if she did she would have worn her shoes. That's just not her. I was reasonably sure she had not been taken, because, well, God help the soul who tries to take her somewhere against her will, especially if it is a male soul. So she was there. Somewhere. The catch was that I could not figure out exactly where.

I was roughly three seconds away from panic mode when a woman said, "are you looking for a little girl? My son said there's one in the obstacle course." Sure enough; there was Princess. The obstacle course was set up so a child would jump through a hole, climb a wall, slide down, and crawl through a small, squishy space. I don't know if Princess didn't realize she could squish through the space, or if she just didn't want to, but she had spent about ten minutes trying to climb up a steep, slippery slide with no handles in socks. Over. And over. And over. Without trying anything new. And, without asking for help. I sent Buddy and Peanut in to guide her through. She never once acted distressed.

A few minutes later she disappeared again, and I found her in a small adjacent area staring at the video games. Just staring. I told her we were there to play, not to watch video games, and led her back into the play area. For the next thirty minutes, she continually tried to sneak back out. And she snuck in increasingly sneaky and out-of-character ways. At one point she injected herself in the middle of a pack of older grade-school boys who were headed toward the game area. I started to feel alarmed (and still do, really) without really knowing why, because that is SO not like her. Typically, she will not choose to be around men or boys, especially ones that are total strangers. Finally, I told her if she went out there again, she would be sitting with me. So, she found a place within my boundaries where she could stand stock still and stare at the video games.

I haven't figured out what was going on in her head yet. I do not understand why she did not have fun there. She should have. It was pretty much tailor-made for a sensory-disordered kid. I don't get it. And, I feel sad for her and disappointed. My only guess is that getting stuck in the obstacle course either freaked her out or made her feel like a failure. Either are pretty likely, and her letting anyone in on her feelings is certainly not a given.

I am so bone-tired of not knowing how to help her. I can't get into her head. She can't or won't communicate what's in there. She should have had fun, and she didn't, and I couldn't help.


  1. My kids are different from yours, but if it were my daughter I'd be guessing that the kids, noise, and simulation etc. were overwhelming her and she wanted to be able to check out/ "dissociate." My daughter doesn't run away physically... she runs away mentally.

    Mary in TX

  2. It wasn't the disassociation that was weird...it was HOW she disassociated. Typically when she's overwhelmed and overstimulated, Princess acts really wild and obnoxious; she even has a particular voice she uses. This wasn't normal for her abnormal. :) As I've been chewing on it, I'm sure it had something to do with getting stuck; the whole learned helplessness deal we've been attacking in therapy lately.

    But yeah, you are right. Something in there wigged her out. It just wasn't something I would have predicted.