Last weekend we decided to attempt the Festival of the Arts here in OKC. Janet’s son Ian had some photography to show and sell (he’s incredibly talented, by the way!)
The parking situation was destined to be a nightmare, as the festival incorporates both visual and performing arts in a park downtown. We spotted a lot for $20 parking and I immediately said “take it!”, because you all know if the experience started poorly, we were liable to have a meltdown before we even made it in!
So we parked, walked a bit and found Janet and her family – and then Lila did something she’s never done in an outside public place like that…. She wanted to get out of her stroller and walk around. Walk around – outside – amid a ton of people milling about. It was incredible. Our new-found Nature Girl made a bee-line for the first greenery she saw, then took great pleasure in plucking leaves from bushes, playing with the grass, and basically attempting to destroy all landscaping areas that she came across…. and it was glorious 🙂
She was in her element – and as long as we were hanging out by some sort of shrubbery – she was perfectly happy. At one point we were all sitting by Ian’s photography display – Lila contently sitting in a lawn chair while playing with her iPad. She got out of the chair and started to walk away. I (of course) followed closely behind. She turned around, pushed me over back to where I had been sitting, then started to walk off again. “No worries Mom, you stay here, I’ve got this!” 😉 Love it.
We hung out for a while, and then got ready to wrap it up and head home. Successful public outing!! *high fives all around* Headed back to the van, and guess what we saw? A ridiculously flat tire. Unsure of what to do – Bill got on the phone, and I loaded Lila into the van. She was livid. She kept trying to get into her car-seat, and push me into the front passenger seat. The van is supposed to GO! She was melting fast – when Bill and Janet’s husband (Kevin) appeared from out of the crowd. Two men with a plan – we took the car-seat out of the van, and then walked to where their SUV was. Put the car-seat and Lila in, we all piled in the car, then Kevin drove us home.
Those of you with autistic kiddos know that not only was that a very kind gesture, it literally saved our day. I was so grateful!
We did go back later in the day to change the tire. Ian helped change the flat tire (Life skill!), while I followed Lila around where she could play with leaves, grass, etc. Once we were done and ready to go back home, she and I got into my car, and Bill got in the van. The entire ride home was brutal…. And I know most of you reading this already know why. Three of us came together – now we were separate. She was convinced I had left Daddy at the Festival of the Arts. It’s so incredibly difficult – once her anxiety level is sky-high and the meltdown has begun, I’ve learned (thanks to Janet, Helyn, and my own experiences as well) that all I can do is remain calm. She doesn’t process anything I say at that point. So the more upset she gets, the calmer I become. I focus on myself, and that has worked really well for us.
Next Up: Heading to some sort of park or nature preserve this weekend!