Monday, October 25, 2010

Well, how did you THINK it was going to go?

School exhausts Ryan.  It takes a lot of effort for him to pay attention, keep himself under control while being asked to do things he doesn't want to do, deal with being forced to interact with his classmates.  By Friday afternoon, he's fried.  Saturday mornings we lay low, and usually by Saturday afternoon, Ryan's reasonably cheerful and cooperative again; sometimes it takes him the whole weekend to recover.

This Friday he came home from school, threw himself on the floor crying, and then crawled into bed for a long nap.  It took quite a bit of effort on my part to wake him up and keep him awake long enough to eat dinner and put on pajamas before he passed out again.

Saturday morning, I skipped practice and hung out with Ryan.  He alternated between watching tv, playing on the computer, eating pancakes, and throwing himself on the floor in raging meltdowns.  When I cut him off from the tv and games, the meltdowns got more desperate and vocal.  At some point there were beads and Candy Land men flying across the living room.  You know, Saturday morning.

Stu and I debated what to do about the parade.  "Let's try it," I suggested.  "The worst that could happen is he freaks out and you take him home early."

"You THINK that's the worst that could happen," Stu challenged.

I didn't see that as much of a challenge.

We went to the house where several of my teammates had already gathered to put on their Dia de los Muertos makeup.  Ryan stared in wonder at the girls' sugar-skull faces.  He seemed ok with the scene.  There was a large dog for him to play with, and a backpack full of snacks.

I painted my face white.  Ryan looked at me critically.

"Wash his face?" he demanded.  (We're still working on the gender pronouns.)

"I'll wash my face later," I promised.

"Off the face?  Clean it?"

I painted my eye sockets black.

"Clean his face?  Off the black, Mommy?"

I drew lines around my mouth and eyes.  Someone drew a spider web on my forehead.
It may be time for contact lenses.  This is just awkward.

"Clean it?  Wash it off?"  He didn't totally lose control, but he obviously disapproved of my makeup.

We drove to the parade's starting point, a large park with no fence.  For some reason we were expected to be present and in skates and gear nearly two hours before the parade was scheduled to step off.  For the first ten minutes or so, Ryan was happy to run across the grass and play in the park's playground.  I pointed out various costumes; he didn't care.

After half an hour, it was obvious Ryan was becoming overwhelmed with the strangely-dressed crowd and the loud marching band that was practicing in the park.  He stared intently at my face; he rarely looks at my face at all.  "Clean the face please?  Go home?"

Stu managed to keep Ryan distracted for another half hour, until we could no longer ignore how Ryan was throwing himself down onto the grass.  They left a full hour before the parade started.  Stu had wisely insisted on parking off the parade route, to facilitate escape under any circumstances.

Frankly, I was impressed that Ryan lasted as long as he did.  He could have been much more frightened of the makeup, he could have been more disturbed by strange mix of sounds and sights at the parade set-up.  It could have gone worse.

I would feel disingenuous saying it could have gone better.  Yes, the typical kids all did great - they were playing together, showing off their costumes, gathering candy and balloons and glow bracelets, marching in the parade.  But I had zero expectation that Ryan would experience the Halloween parade like that.

And as for the parade, we won first place for Group costume:
I'm in the back, under the letter I.

And I got to show off my greatest talent:

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