Monday, March 14, 2011

I'm The Sucker

Our local elementary school hosted a huge event this weekend. Not really a fundraising event, but more of a "welcome to spring" and community-building activity. The "middle" kids have been bugging me for weeks to go over and check it all out. I relented, knowing that The Boss would be busy with the bathroom and the older boys had school-related activities. We had a morning to kill and this seemed to fit the bill.

As soon as we walked in to the gym all decked out for our "Spring Fling," I realized I hadn't thought this through very well. First of all, the event was in the gym and the adjacent cafeteria. High, cavernous ceilings. Open beams. Hardwood floors. Concrete walls. Metal rolling door and window coverings. Super great if you are into industrial decor. I mean, those steel beams and big bolts make a pretty chic statement if you are into that.

Not so great if you have hearing loss.

And the crowd. Oh, the crowd. Screaming, yelling, running kids of all ages. Parents shouting to be heard over the din of their children. Music blaring in one corner for a cake-walk game. Microphone bleating intermittently with announcements for the crowd. Popcorn machine popping. Beeps. Dings. Metallic and wood bumps and thumps as doors opened and closed.

Really not great if you have hearing loss.

But I gotta give my girl props. She did pretty well at hanging on to LadyBug's hand and trying to speak up over the din. Taking it all in, sticking really close (read: velcro close), and trying to enjoy the very close contact with all of LadyBug's SQUEALING! B!F!F's! who were SO! HAPPY! to see her.

Enjoying it, that is, until the Super Slide.

Rising high up to the vaulted ceilings of our gym, this blow up slide was the main event for the kids at the festival. Li'l Empress and LadyBug were totally hyped up about flying down it. Together. That is, until they got into the line and the rules were given. Each child must be able to climb up alone. And slide back down. Alone.  We know that Li'l Empress is quite physically CAPABLE of heading up and back down alone. She's very athletic. But would she?  No. STINKIN'. WAY. She was already GLUED to LadyBug's hip, with a "terror grip" and pinchy fingers. Go up alone? Apart from her security blanket of the moment, in the person of her big protective sister? Ha.  No, thankyouverymuch.

But when they got out of line and it hit LI'l Empress that saying "no" to climbing up alone also meant "no" to sliding down? Well, welcome to meltdown number one.

And remember, she's already employing most of her little three year old coping skills to handle the HUGE! AMOUNTS! of background noises. Seriously, I was starting to max out MY coping skills for the raucous roar around me. (Yeah, I was getting a little cranky and we'd only been there 1/2 an hour. Ugh.)

We thought maybe we'd have better luck at the MoonBounce.  We thought wrong. Apparently, there was a line for "big kids" and "little kids" - and Li'l Empress was having NONE.OF.THAT. To her credit, LadyBug was super encouraging and so sweet, trying to talk to Li'l Empress in cheerleader tones. "You can do it, Baby. You'll have so much fun."  She even pulled out the tricks and lines from Li'l Empress's favorite show, encouraging her to not be afraid to try new things.  No. DICE.

But again. When she realized what leaving the line meant for her future on the MoonBounce to play with sissy?  Welcome to meltdown number two.

Yeah. We were having fun now! On the up side, we've learned how to help Li'l Empress recover from the meltdowns more quickly. Distraction is a huge trick, we employ it regularly. For her hearing issues. For her three year old issues. For her baby of the family issues. Yeah. Momma's a big fan of the distraction technique. For her hearing issues, removing her from the room for a brief respite also proves to be regularly helpful. So I gave LadyBug a ten minute break to hang with her peeps and Li'l Empress and I walked out to the lobby and snuggled for a bit.

On the downside? There wasn't much else that intrigued Li'l Empress with quite the same degree of excitement as those two events at the festival. We didn't last long in the lobby because the draw of the bright colors and yet-undiscovered fun spots was oh, so strong.  So we did some wandering around and attempting to distract. Not much was working once we got back inside.

Until we found the Lollipop Tree.  Oh, the blessed Lollipop Tree.  For the cost of one tiny ticket, Li'l Empress got to stand in front of a tower of brightly colored suckers and PICK! ONE!  When we figured out just how distracting and exciting the LOLLIPOP! TREE! was to the Li'l Empress?  Well, we made up to that tree as if it was Santa himself. Nothing like a little ball of sugar on a stick to make things all better for my girl.

Leaving me to wonder.  Just who is the sucker here?


Joan said...

That sounds really difficult/impossible to manage the situation, noise and rules. Sounds like your older daughter did a great job trying to make it better, I'm glad that the younger finally found something that caught interest as well :)

Trish said...

Oh, we have avoided many such events! I remember waiting in line for a bouncy thing for 45 minutes at a church event and the guy saying it was closing down one person before him. I just about had a meltdown of my own until Audrea got the guy to let Michael on the thing for a few seconds.

He knew it wasn't the same as a real turn but at least it averted a total disaster. :)

Aus said...

No suckers (except the sugar kind) in this story! The old guy with hearing aids to the kids - I so feel your pain - the distractions even at something like a swimming pool can be too much to like that are so overwhelming to me - and (at least age wise - though there are those that will debate with you maturity level) I'm an adult!

I'll give cudo's around to all you guys - there's lots of love between those girls - and it's clear that Mom's loving them all!

hugs - aus and co.