Busy Weekends Good and Bad
It was a very, very busy weekend last weekend, but overall a very, very good one.
I knew that the weekend was going to be rather hectic and full of out-of-routine situations for A., so I sat down with her on Friday night to explain everything that was going on. I laid everything out in relation to things that matter to A. (mainly, how much time she'd get to spend on the computer each day) and let her know the exact order of events. Once I explained them, and also that she'd get a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card for doing chores this weekend (participating in obligatory social activities is in itself a sort of a chore for her anyway) but she'd still get her allowance, she seemed perfectly hospitable to the idea of getting carted of all around Knoxville on a weekend she'd much rather be spending at home with her notebooks, computer, and music.
First of all, on Saturday, we met up with a local humane society that was having an adopt-a-thon at our local PetSmart store. We did this because we'd been emailing a lady about a new puppy we were considering adopting and they were going to be in Knoxville this weekend. We met the dog, confirmed that we'd fallen in love with him, and adopted him to take home. A. was quite pleased with this event, because she absolutely adores all animals, and I think if we'd let her bring the entire pet shop home, she would.
The dog is adorable and cute, even if he's slightly neurotic (has to be under Thomas's feet 24/7) and makes me break out into hives when I pick him up and carry him anywhere. We still haven't named him.
[Click here to see a picture of our new puppy.
Next, we went to celebrate the 1st birthday of a couple of my friends' little baby. At one point, A. loudly exclaimed that she was "surrounded by toddlers," but overall she was pretty patient with the whole process. It's funny to see her around babies, because she thinks they are really cute (she almost has the same expression on her face as she does when she's looking at animals) but she's also very nervous about touching them -- I guess she understands how delicate they are. She also has a hard time "getting" babies (I'm sure in part because she has a hard enough time "getting" anyone, and in part because she never really did "normal baby" things and I imagine her brain is wired completely differently from a brain that's trying to communicate and interact with simple half-pretend games involving big bowls and facial expressions.) Still, she seems to enjoy having babies around, and she definitely tries to interact even if it's terribly confusing for her. She's never been frustrated by them, however -- just amused. "I don't understand what you're trying to do here," she'll say to babies a lot.
After that, we came home and played with the dog for a little while, and then we went off to A.'s elementary school carnival. A. was not looking forward to the event at all, and in fact was trying to talk me out of going, but we'd already committed to participating and making an appearance, and I wanted to be there in case A. ran into any of her friends from class. It ended up being a lot more fun for both of us than we expected, however. There were a few games A. liked, as well as the putt-putt course and lots of delicious snacky/carnival food. As for myself, I was absolutely in love with all of the retro-geeky things they had available as part of the 1980s and 1990s-themed hallways -- including Storm Troopers and an R2D2 that I got my picture taken with. The highlight of the carnival, however, was definitely the Angry Birds toss game, in which kids got to slingshot balls painted like birds at balls painted like pigs for prizes. (Really, I can't describe it -- you'll just have to look at the picture below.)
[Here's the way the Angry Birds carnival game was set up.
On Sunday, A. had to deal with several non-routine situations. First of all, the service opened with a "bridging ceremony" for students who were moving from preschool to Kindergarten, from Elementary to Middle, and from Middle to High School. This meant not only would we have to start service in the sanctuary, which A. absolutely despises, but also that she'd have to stand in front of the congregation, something that also makes her very uncomfortable. All things considered, she did very well, fidgeting up on stage wearing her rabbit ears, and I was quite proud of her. After the ceremony, she went on to the Middle School room, and she apparently did very well -- even participated in one of the classroom games, which is something she generally doesn't do.
True to form, I rewarded her good behavior with a trip to McDonalds, and afterward we headed over to a wedding shower Thomas's family was throwing for me.
This was where everything fell apart, and where a little bit of foresight would have really come in handy on my part. I forced A. to come along with me to this wedding shower, knowing full-well that she would not be all that interested in the happenings -- the opening presents, the conversations with adults about relatives, the finger-foods. I'd thought, however, that she would be quite content to hang out in a room away from everyone else and spend some time playing her Nintendo DS and her iPhone games, listening to music, drawing pictures, and essentially just killing time. And, to her credit, she was very patient for the first couple of hours of happenings; it wasn't until he went past what I prepped her as the probable "ending time" for the event that she started getting really restless. It was actually quite heartbreaking because all of the relatives were trying to interact with her, make conversation, and otherwise communicate, but A. was having none of it. She was short, rude, and spent most of her time scowling at everyone because she was convinced they were teasing her. Again, to A.'s credit, showing affection by way of gentle teasing is a cultural phenomenon in the Southeast -- and, perhaps it's a cultural phenomenon in all of the United States -- but A. was not interested in enduring these slights with any grace or understanding at all. Personally, I've long grown out of the habit of teasing A. -- I've seen how she reacts to the action all-too-often -- and Thomas has learned to tease in small, repetitive, and gentle ways to try to help A. "get used" to the idea of teasing and joking -- an action which has led to A. participating in rounds of "your mom!" and "your face!" jokes in our household. But the relatives who were attending the shower were not people A. was very familiar with, and she felt as if they were making fun of her the entire time -- in fact, they kept making comments about the bunny ears she was wearing, and before we left the house, she broke her rabbit ears in frustration.
[A. was definitely not a happy camper at the wedding shower.
I should have had a plan in place for A. -- I should have arranged for Thomas to come pick her up early so she would have been able to enjoy cake, so all of the relatives could have enjoyed seeing her, and then she could have gone home and been safe and sound someplace where she felt comfortable and at-ease. I didn't, however, and of course, A. lived -- and all things considered, she was able to avoid a full-fledged meltdown, so I was proud of that, at least. Times like that make me realize that I really need to do a better job of planning out-of-the-ordinary events like that one, however.
Considering how many things we had to do over the weekend, I felt as if A. did a stellar job of staying on task, keeping herself calm, and following the programs. It really is amazing how far she's come.