Monday, December 8, 2014

Running the Meltdown Marathon

A birthday party for a classmate at an indoor trampoline joint today. Well that's going to be an awesome way to spend an afternoon!

Until it's not. 

I made the rookie mistake of not casing this joint before hand.  Yeah the invitation said 2:30 but I should know by now that's not the real time these things get started.  There will be paperwork where I waive my right to sue and possibly sell them my right kidney.  I don't know.  I don't read them.  (A lawyer's wife. I should know better.)  I should have called and found out the real start time.  So I walked in with the kiddo at 2:20 and then I had FORTY minutes to kill with a child who was ready to start jumping RIGHT NOW

And this place was in one of those huge warehouses.  Hundreds of kids and music pumping through a sounds system.  If they dimmed the lights and gave out glow sticks it would of been a rave.

It was chaos.

It was a sensory overload.

It was a cluster fuck.

I had one eye on the clock and one on the kiddo.  I had a meltdown brewing before me.  I pulled out my phone to try and distract him with games. I talked about the rules of jumping safety which I suspect I just sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher at that point.  The kiddo leaned into me and started to fidget with the buttons on my sweater.  The ones right by my chest cause you know, ten year old boy looking like he's coping a feel on his mom's boobs in public, let's really stand out.  And then the noise.

He started to cry. LOUDLY.  I found myself pleading with him to just hang on.  We would get through this.  Other moms and kids we knew were coming us to by then. They were trying to be sweet and tell him it would be soon.  "Disappointing!" he kept crying.  Ugh, right in my heart kid!

But I saw a lot of other people turning to look at him.  I mean, it makes sense.  You hear that kind of loud cry in public, you're gonna look.  Of course, it's when that look that goes from "What's that?" to "Wtf?" is the one I can't stand.  Like stop looking.  Do you think your hard cold stare is going to stop it? Kids actually walked away from him.  I don't blame them.  Why sit next to the kid crying?

All I could think was "Just this once could you not meltdown?  I know this place is the third circle of Hell for you.  I know it's loud and you have to wait and you don't get it.  There's too many people.  It's too big.  You just can't deal but just this once!! Please!!"

At the same time I"m also thinking "God dammit!  Can't this place get their shit together? How the Hell are you going to tell a bunch of kids to sit on a bench for a half hour in front of a wonderland of trampolines?  Autism or not.  That's crazy! Turn down that crappy music while you're at and get off my lawn!!"

Finally we got the "All clear" to jump and like a switch he jumped and it was fine. A few of the moms patted me on the back and said "You made it!"  They got it.  They knew.  I wiped away my own near tears and got myself together.

And I thought we were in the clear but the meltdown was still just lingering there.  This place was just too loud and too crowded.  I could see it on his face and in his eyes after an hour, he was done. So I had the debate in my head of pulling him out of there now or trying to forge ahead for the after party with cake.  Was cake worth it for the possibility of me carrying a ten year old out of there kicking and screaming?  It would have to be the world's best cake served on a silver platter with maybe Benedict Cumberbatch feeding it to me.  Yeah, we're out.  Before I can even say to him that it's time to split, he comes up to me and says "DONE!"

You don't have to say that to me twice Buddy!  I hightailed it out of there so fast I bet left track marks and a trail of smoke.  When autism tells you we're done, you are done!

So he is currently cope pacing his lap around my kitchen and living room that he does while singing along to songs on his iPad and he can do that till the cows come home or Daddy.  Whichever happens first.

I'm still wired from the experience.  Even though it sucked it could of been a lot worse.  Hell, there was time we wouldn't of lasted five minutes in that.  So that's something.  Still, I hate the guilt I have from these feelings I have during these meltdowns.  I feel like a hostage negotiator between him and the rest of the world all the time and it's flipping exhausting.  Just once kiddo, just cut Mama a break.  Let's call this your Christmas gift to me.  You don't even have to wrap it.

And I want this place to work for him because it's got some serious sensory input benefits to it and winter is around the corner.  So I think Mama Fry needs to get on the phone with the manager.  Set up some sort of special needs play hour there.  Or at least suggest better music.  ;-) 


  1. I hear you mama fry! I giggled at your description of the cake that would entice you to stay. But my chest got tight and I felt your anxiety too. It's tough! I'm glad it went fairly well in the end and that you got out of there without a complete meltdown.

    I also had to laugh at the copping a feel comment. Once when my son was 7 (shortly before his diagnosis) he was standing in front of my sister and leaned forward and bit her boob (not painfully, just a friendly, hey how you doin') and I was mortified.

  2. Hi there. I follow you on facebook and would rather post here than on there. I have commented on facebook before, and next thing I knew I had messages from friends asking me about what I wrote. I am very, very new to autism. I have a 4yr old non-verbal autistic son. I didn't know what autism really was, I'd heard of it, but thought it was different than what it really is. I am still not comfortable talking to my friends, who don't know what it's like to have an autistic child, message me to try to give me advice. This is why I did not want to comment directly on facebook. I hope you understand.
    Anyway, I am glad to have read this post in particular. I have an older son, 7yrs old, who I was planning on doing his birthday at one of those indoor jumping places. I had not even thought of how my younger son would react to it. I can't even deal with a quick stop at the grocery store because of how bad his meltdowns are. I already have stopped taking him to certain places with me, and keep him home. If we get invited to places, I refrain from going because I do not know how he will be.
    Just recently, my sister had a party for her son and it lasted 6 hours because she was sooo unorganized. After 2 hours, my husband had to take our little one home. My sister was upset, because hardly anyone showed up to the party, so two people leaving made a difference to her. I couldn't understand why she would want the party (of a 2yr old too) to last so long.

  3. Boy did this ever bring back memories of birthdays past. I'm shaking as I type. You handled it beautifully and that Kiddo came to you and said "DONE"!!! Whoooo-hooooo!!!!! That's SO awesome!

  4. "I hightailed it out of there so fast I bet left track marks and a trail of smoke. When autism tells you we're done, you are done!"

    Oh yeah, I have left those trails of smoke, too! Lol! Great post. Glad you got through it ok. :-)

  5. Boy, this brought back memories! Both of my girls have been invited to parties at these jump places and I can tell you that neither one of them (one NT and one autistic) handled the waiting part well.

  6. ((Hugs)) I have had moments like that with my oldest daughter. I am thrilled he came to you and said done. I was usually the one dragging her out screaming. So far, my little man is small enough I can handle his tantrums pretty well.

  7. I can completely relate to this post.