Saturday, March 17, 2012

Special Needs things to learn

I'm not sure how it's been over a year and I haven't had this problem yet. But I'm still learning a lot about being a special needs mom.

We went to the zoo on Thursday. I brought five of my cherubs. (Cherub 1 got to stay home and mow the lawn.) I was a smidgen nervous because Bart has a tendency to run off in public places. He's awfully impulsive at times. But I had deputized both TT and Bart saying that there were three big people and three little people and we were going to have to buddy up. I handled the stroller mostly because Pumpkin is pretty big for a stroller and it isn't always easy to maneuver. And there was a LOT of maneuvering to do – the zoo was packed! I also promised a trip to the gift shop for all children that followed the rules the entire time at the zoo.

It was a lot of fun! Even Pumpkin, who has been somewhat anti-social lately, wanted to see everything. I was so surprised! Every time we stopped, and she couldn't see the animal from her stroller, Pumpkin would sit up a little straighter and (almost) ask to get out. (She would put up her hands the minute I looked at her and ask if she wanted to see.) Pumpkin even pointed at the animal when she would find it in the habitat and then repeat the name of the animal after me. I believe all the cherubs are watching a turtle in the picture above.

We got to the zoo around 11:00 or so. It took a little longer than normal to get to the zoo because Dude thought it necessary to give me exactly 9.7 seconds notice that he had to go to the bathroom on the way there. Needless to say it resulted in me having to sacrifice Bart's booster seat over to Pumpkin, and Pumpkin's car seat over to Dude. (He had soaked his good and I didn't have anything to keep his dry clothes from getting wet if I put him back in the nasty car seat.)

We started out at the gor-gillas. All the cherubs love the gor-gillas. There was even a tiny baby gor-gilla. It was wrapped up around its mommy's leg. Adorable!

We made our way to the back of the zoo and I stopped for lunch. Corn dogs all around. Then, I decided I really should do another bathroom trip for all. Pumpkin had drank a sippy cup of juice on the way there and I knew she would need a new diaper.

Remember when your babies were little? And all you needed to change a diaper was one of these?

Very rarely did I take my little ones out without being able to find one. They do make life so much easier.

But...Pumpkin is 6 1/2 years old and weighs nearly 44 pounds. She's too big for the changing tables. And like I said, I'm surprised I haven't run in to this problem before. I guess I haven't been OUT with her all day too many times. I know I've changed her in the back of our SUV. And if we're in a doctor's office I'll just change her on the exam table. But this was the zoo. And this is what the bathroom floor looked like. (The picture doesn't do it justice. The floor is covered with a thick slime of mud and dirt.)
I had left my deputies out at the lunch table with strict instructions to NOT MOVE while I went in to the bathroom first. I took care of my business and then stared at the floor realizing I had no idea where I was going to change Pumpkin. I realized there are still some aspects of special needs parenting that are going to throw me every single time.

I walked out of the bathroom and contemplated asking a staff member for assistance. But deep down I knew I wasn't going to get any help. At best they would send me to the floor in the office at the front of the zoo. Dragging five cherubs back to the front of the zoo to change a diaper didn't seem like a lot of fun.

I improvised. Right or wrong, I decided to go to the back corner of the picnic area we were at. The weather was in the upper 80s so I wasn't worried about that. And I'm pretty fast about changing a diaper so I just went for it.

All I could think about was the profoundly disabled teenager that I had seen in the zoo earlier that day. Where would that family take their child to change her diaper? How do other families do this? I still have a lot to learn.

The rest of the day at the zoo went wonderfully. Dolly's therapist called while we were in the snake exhibit. His schedule had been messed up by some other families that had canceled on him last minute. He wanted to come early for Dolly's appointment (that was originally scheduled for 3:30 that day). I explained that we were at the zoo and we just rescheduled for next week. The kids thought this was a great idea because now we would have time to play at the park inside the zoo.

My favorite part was when Dolly came up to me at the park and sat down next to me.
"Mommy. I hot. I sweaty."
"Yes. Dolly. It's hot."
"Mommy – turn on the air."
laughing my head off.... "um, live in DEEP South Texas. Winter is over. Summer is here. It's hot. We're outside. And I can't turn on the air."
"Mommy!" (with much more feeling) "I sweaty. Turn on the air!!"
"Dolly, I can't. We're outside. Go play"
"Mommy" (sighing just a bit) "I love you." and she ran off to go play some more

All the cherubs did well enough that a trip to the gift shop was in order. I pushed Pumpkin up the ramp and stopped short at the door. The gift shop was very small and incredibly crowed. TT helped hold the door open and I made my way inside.

Immediately upon entering the staff member at the checkout very sternly told me that there are no strollers allowed in the gift shop.

Now, I've been chasing these five cherubs around the zoo for several hours. I was hot. I was tired. Every bone in my body was screaming with exhaustion. (Chronic psoriatic arthritis doesn't take kindly to hot weather.) I was not about to turn around and try to walk Pumpkin through the gift shop without her stroller. I lifted up her leg with the brace on it and strongly replied, "She can't walk. This is like her wheelchair."

I could see it all over the staff member's face – she did NOT want the stroller in there. But, she didn't make me turn around a leave. (Not that I would have. I was ready for a fight if necessary. I've heard of things like this before and I was not going to be bullied.)

My cherubs did a great job of picking out their new things. Dude and Dolly got these adorable baby gor-gillas that have magnets in their feet. Pumpkin seemed to like a purple toucan bird. Bart picked out a hat and TT chose a flashlight that makes animal pictures on the wall.

Of course, while standing there waiting for the cherubs to make their decisions another staff member thought it necessary to tell me I couldn't have the stroller in the gift shop. He tripped all over himself apologizing though when I indicated to him that Pumpkin can't walk.

Thankfully we were in and out of the gift shop in less than 10 minutes.

Later that night Dolly was holding her baby gor-gilla and hooking it on to her sock monkey that Granny gave her for Christmas. Dolly informed me that the gor-gilla was the baby and the pink monkey was the mommy. Then she said, "The mommy loves the baby. The mommy keeps the baby safe." She turned to me, grinned, and said, "Like us mommy! Like us!!!"

It was a good day!!


Meg0422 said...

Why is there no "like" button?! I love the ending. Do you think its time to push for a wheelchair. (No pun intended)

?Cherubmama's mama said...

The same thing can happen even when they are in a wheel chair. I had a special needs child that was in my classroom in a wheel chair. She could NOT walk at all. They were in a gift shop and were told they had to leave. The mom said they didn't and they didn't leave. But she had to fight for it.