Tuesday, May 31, 2011

In Which Connor Takes A Field Trip And Touches Many Things

Today Connor's class drove down to Olympia for a school field trip to the children's museum!  The kids could either ride the bus or drive down with their parents, and I chose to drive down with Connor this time since the bus was going to be a bit crowded.  Both the morning and afternoon preschool classes came, so there were quite a few kids, and that way if Connor had an issue on the way down we wouldn't be delaying the field trip for everybody.

But we did drive up to the school to meet everyone there and start the trip off together.  Even though I'd been talking with Connor about the field trip, I think he had this idea that it was going to be a field trip at the school or something, because when we got back in the car he thought we were going back home and he got really mad.  "No byebye!  Want more!" he signed over and over with a huge pouty-face on.  It wasn't until we got on the highway that he finally realized I'd been telling him the truth and that we were not, in fact, simply driving back to the house.

So despite the rough start, once we got there things went smoothly; the little guy had a blast, and it was really fantastic to see how much more he participated in the activities this year as compared to last year.  Last year there were only two things he wanted to do.  He wanted to sit in the gardening section and wear galoshes on his feet and also his hands, so that he wouldn't have to touch anything, and also he wanted to hang out in the bathroom, where he didn't have to touch anything.  Pretty much the whole mantra of last year's field trip was "I don't want to touch anything."  Since the whole point of the children's museum is to have a whole bunch of things for kids to touch, Connor was not really thrilled with the trip.

So what a change a year can bring!  This year his mantra was more like "Well, if you really want me to touch this stuff I guess I'll make a half-hearted attempt to do it since it seems to make you so happy."  That's a major improvement in my book. 

We started out at the water table, and not only was he okay with me putting his hands (well, okay, his right hand) in the water, he actually reached out and gave it a few swipes himself!  He also enjoyed dropping various toys into the water and watching them float down the table.  After a few minutes the noise and crowd started getting to him, so he and I moved into the toddler room, which as always was practically deserted.  We spent some time at the lentils table, which ended when Connor began flinging the lentils out of the table and on to the floor.  Then we moved on to the sensory table, where the little guy spent some time feeling various swatches of material-- including sandpaper-- with an open palm. 

I was so proud I thought I would burst, and I really wanted to celebrate by telling the entire room about it.  Unfortunately the only other parents who were in the room at the time were not part of our field trip, and they were involved in a sort of one-up discussion about how many languages they were teaching their children to speak.  I thought that interjecting into their conversation with "Hey, guess what!  Your child might be trilingual, but my child just touched sandpaper voluntarily, and get this-- he did it with an open palm!  Ha-- beat that!" might not be particularly appropriate or very well received. 

So I'm telling you all about it instead. 

Anyway, so we took a break to eat a quick lunch and then cycled through the rest of the exhibits.  The galoshes didn't fit on Connor's feet anymore, so he had to wear clogs instead.  I am sad to report that clogs are apparently not nearly as exciting as galoshes, and apparently wearing the galoshes on his hands had lost its appeal, possibly because he wasn't so concerned about not touching anything. 

All of the touching things began taking its toll though, and Connor started drooping over lunch.  Half an hour later he told me he was tired and started waving goodbye to everyone.  Even though the field trip wasn't over, I decided to go ahead and take him home, as it was obvious that his energy was fading and I didn't want to overtire him. 

I figure it was the right call to make, because he fell asleep in the car on the way home.  And not only did the kid touch a whole bunch of stuff, but he kept his hearing aids in the entire trip!  I think he earned that nap.

So I drove home, opened up the front door and wheeled Connor down the hallway into his bedroom, where I put him down to finish his nap.  I turned on his monitor and walked into the living room, where I discovered my reading lamp in about eighty pieces on the floor.  Evidently one of the cats (and I wasn't there, but I can guess which one it was) got a bee in his bonnet and knocked the lamp off our glass-topped table and on to the floor.  Not only did the glass shade (which was a lovely antique violet) shatter, but somehow the cat managed to knock the lamp down in such a way that the top of the base snapped off, leaving it totally beyond repair.

It was my favorite lamp too, dang it.

So I was sad.  However I wasn't too sad, because this gave me an excuse to visit the antique mall.  So after Connor woke up from his nap, we piled back in the car and drove to Tacoma, were we spent the next two hours tootling up and down the aisles of the antique mall looking at every single lamp in the entire place.  I ultimately bought the second one I saw of course, but it was important to look at all the lamps just in case there was something better hidden in a far corner of the store.  Connor has been going to this particular antique mall with me on a regular basis since he was six months old, so this was old and familiar territory.  He likes the mall because there are many interesting things to look at, but he doesn't have to touch anything.  So it was a nice counterpoint to this morning's field trip. 

The new lamp I bought is a flowery, elaborate, brass affair with an extremely unusual pink petal-shaped glass shade, and I absolutely love it.  Jeremy declared it to be "very stabby," as some of the brass leaves coming off the base are pretty pointy, and though I don't think he actually likes the lamp this is relatively close to a seal of approval from him.  I'll try and take a picture of it at some point so you can see it in all its stabby, pink-petaly glory.

And as a great end to a pretty great day, the kid actually went to sleep shortly after I put him down tonight, and he's stayed asleep.  Maybe I should go on big make-him-touch-stuff sorts of field trips more often!



Fiona said...

Your post made me smile.
Oh, and for the record my kid does speak 3 languages, but I still think Connor rocks for touching all that stuff!

I actually think that sometimes as a parent is is good to be reminded that everyone is facing challenges, and stepping away from your own set of problems and looking at what someone else is dealing with can offer up a whole new perspective on the important stuff.

Julia said...

Great post! What huge progress he's made! I have a huge smile on my face. Thanks for giving me such a nice start to my day.

Oh, yeah, and sorry about the lamp. I'm guessing that the culpable party has the shorter of the two cat names?

Kristin said...

Great post! It is a wonder what a difference a year makes.

Last summer, I was waiting for Ellie to get out of a dance class. A bunch of moms from this preschool were talking about how advanced their children were. One is reading Shakespeare, the other reading War and Peace, the other experimenting with neruophysics.

I decided that it probably wasn't appropriate to say "well, Lauren's got an IEP 30 pages long. Nah, nah, na, nah, nah!!!"

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