I feel like a general in war sometimes. I am always thinking ahead about how to avoid a war (rage), how to exit a dangerous situation quickly, what weapons (snacks, games, gum) I need to bring with to distract, preparing the troops (other 3 kids) for contingent situations (we may have to leave early if Akila loses it), preparing the troops for battle (please ignore any name calling, little nit-picking, etc), and gathering the troops for a huddle prayer before we step into the fire (prayer before we leave the house).
Yesterday was an event called Music in Plymouth. It is a fun event where 15,000 people go, sit on blankets, watch several bands followed by the Minnesota Orchestra followed by fireworks. We have been going for the past 4 or 5 years with my friend Juli's family and her parents, who are like my parents lately. It gets a little more challenging each year as Akila's behavior gets worse. But I decided it is worth the risk and we went. It was also Imani's birthday yesterday and she really wanted to go.
So I strategised. The parking and traffic are horrific at this event. We have to bring blankets, coolers, sweatshirts, etc. So hauling a bunch of stuff 6-8 blocks is not fun, especially at 10:30 at night. Michael can never come as this is at the end of the month always and it is when his work is busy and he is working late. The event is right next to a health club we are members at. This health club has an outdoor pool.
My strategy, was to go early in the afternoon, park exactly where I wanted to, walk a few blocks to the health club, and swim all afternoon. It worked great. We swam, got the kids dressed, put them in the childcare center, went in the locker room and showered in peace. Got the kids, brought our swim stuff to the van, got the picnic stuff, and went to the event. First part went well.
We got there about 6:00, fireworks start at 10:10, Long night. We could have gotten there at 5:00, so I was an hour late. Brought notebooks and crayons for something to do. Akila was not happy with the notebook she got, it was not new enough. Had a major fit about that, until Imani finally traded with her. Avoided some early fireworks. Several more situations just like that, and more fireworks avoided.
Then, Akila went up to the front stage to dance, and we were quite a ways back but I let her go by herself. We could see her on the large TV screen. Perfect. I think she danced for at least an hour. It was a lovely break. Then she came back, and vacillated between being manic and mean. At one point, she was hitting and kicking the kids for fun, and laughing. So I ended up doing a few brief pseudo restraints on her. I'm sure there were some wide eyes.
When there some fire dancers at the end of the night dancing, right before the fireworks (so it was getting late), they were hard to see. Akila yelled a few times at people who were in front of us and had stood up, "Sit down big headed dumb a**es!" It was lovely. Proud moment. We had a few more little physical tantrums, but all things considered, she did well.
Fireworks were fun, we got through the crowd, our parking spot was great and we got out of the mess quickly. I had her meds in the van waiting and she took them without a fight. Drove home in silence. Silence people. That never happens, even at nearly 11:00 at night. Got home, she went right to bed, and is still sleeping. It was a good night, very few issues, and Imani had a great birthday.
The kids and I go to Willmar this weekend for our annual vacation. I had been hoping that Natalie, my wonderful niece, was going to go along to help me (this is the one time a year we leave Michael alone to get some peace), but she has chosen to do something with her friends. What a brat. Just kidding. But I am bummed. Tried to find some other help, but no luck. So wish me luck.
We get to swim, boat, tube and do lots of fun stuff with this family. They are like another set of grandparents for my kids and we love them dearly. I grew up on this lake, they were our neighbors, and parents of one of my friends. Since my parents have died, they let us come out for visits. I love this family!!! We go to the 4th of July parade in Spicer, but we have always skipped the fireworks. I figure that the kids have already seen the fireworks each year at Music in Plymouth.
Plus, they are so tired from all the swimming and fun, that I can't imagine keeping them up that late again. It is already hard enough to keep them up late for the Plymouth event, we rarely do things that go so late.
I have one more day to plan my strategy for the Willmar trip. I better sit down in the strategy room and get to work.
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