Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: System Failure Imminent (#2)

Monday, April 20, 2009

System Failure Imminent (#2)

About 10 of us went out for breakfast yesterday morning before the local boat and RV show. Erik did amazingly well, sitting between us for an extended period of time while we sipped coffee, talked, and laughed. It was incredibly relaxing. We shared our omelet, slabs of toast, and cinnamon roll with him. I eventually walked him down to the video arcade at the other end of the restaurant to get our pinball fix, and then we loaded in our cars to drive to the next town for the show.

The remainder of the day was a different flavor. At first, things were great. Brian and I briefly got to explore the massive collection of travel trailers parked in a field under the blazing sun. These ranged from the ridiculously expensive, including models with gas log fireplaces, flat screen televisions, ATV garages, and bars, to a bathroomless, lemon yellow, tear-shaped model that could be towed behind almost any vehicle. When we got to the lineup of more reasonable models, it was difficult for me not to think about the government trailers that materialized after Hurricane Katrina. Packs of salesmen roamed the grounds, popping up out of nowhere and frightening me from time to time as I examined cooktops and commodes.

Erik became increasingly difficult to control. I was horrified when he completely ignored my shouts to stop before he ran over an expanse of parking lot after spotting a forklift. The beginning of the end was when he discovered an open space studded with gleaming all-terrain vehicles of different sorts -- bucks, and quads, and motorcycles. Oh my. He sprinted toward them without a second thought. He then flitted from vehicle to vehicle at a ridiculously frantic pace. I tried to snap a decent photo of him, but he was in constant motion, making it impossible. Brian and I had to laugh at his obvious delight. For some reason, he would lie down on the grass and insert the top of his head into each recessed hubcap. He bent at the waist to inspect each tire. He talked to them as if they could understand him. I even overheard him mumble, "What a beautiful quad."

He was in absolute heaven.

I love to do special things for my son. Knowing there would be vehicles he would enjoy at the event was the major reason we attended this show. Lately we have put a lot of thought into things we can do with him to get him out and about. The problem is, however, we have to cease doing these things at some point and go home. This always results in a major Erik malfunction, and we were about to experience the worst one in history. Activities as simple as taking him outside in the yard always seem to end with one of us carrying or pushing a kicking, screaming boy through the front door, making me wonder if even our insignificant outings are really worth it. It may seem like a small price to pay, but after this occurs about three thousand times in a row, it gets really frustrating. You can't kneel down to his level and reason with him when he's this upset. I guess that all I can really do is ask the folks who don't wear our shoes to hesitate before they cluck their tongues and shake their heads in judgment seeing a parent carrying a kicking, screaming child to the car. They just might be doing the very best they can. There are some days I am just not up for his rage, and we remain inside the house. I fully admit it.

As Erik was forced to ride on Brian's shoulders away from his beloved ATVs, he bawled and screamed. When that didn't work, he tried manipulation, begging Brian, "Let go of me, please." When that failed, he went back to screaming and crying, making the remainder of our time browsing impossible to enjoy. Our voices both took on a raised, barking tone, which only seemed to upset Erik more. We were officially fresh out of reasonable ideas, and Erik was miles beyond reasoning at all. Brian carried Erik back to the Jeep, and I went to inform my friend that we were leaving. As we drove out of the fairgrounds, Brian and I calmly explained to Erik why we had to go home, but I can never determine if he really comprehends what we're saying or not. I would think that if he did, his behavior might change, but it doesn't seem to make any difference at all so far. However, we faithfully continue our explanations, hoping some of it will eventually sink in.

The rest of the day was slightly better, but Erik remained "off," screaming "NO" at us both with great gusto and refusing to do anything we asked him to do. He spent time alone in his room with each outburst. The whole outing just seemed to rock his world for the rest of the day. After Erik took a good nap, Brian decided to take him to the store for furnace filters in the evening. Erik did well, even without the confines of a shopping cart around him.

He was back to his old, Erik-y self.

I love doing special things for Erik and will continue planning them, but there is definitely a price we end up paying. We just make sure we're up for our punishment afterwards, which hurts my heart more than a little.

On some days, it's just simply not worth sacrificing my sanity.

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Blogger Laura said...

I remember many an outing with Michaela where I had to issue my standard warning of "I apologize for the scene you are about to witness" as I carried her over my shoulder kicking and screaming....ugg, those moments were draining physically and emotionally. Mainly because of the many disapproving "looks". Thankfully, they are very far and few between these days, as age and maturity has given her the ability to be reasonable.
We did recently have an issue one day at the mall when she wanted to spend a gift card. She wanted more things than she could afford and started to melt down when I refused to just buy them....she's 9yrs old and tall, can you just imagine the dirty looks we got....

7:21 AM  
Blogger Tara said...

Oh my goodness, this is exactly what happens to us with Payton. Like you, there are some days we are just not up for the insanity that follows outings and stay in our home. Other days I feel stronger and venture out with her.
What never ceases to amaze me is how strong these kids are!!
I like how you call it 'our punishment' because it is exactly what it feels like!~

9:20 AM  
Blogger camille said...

YES YES YESSSS!!! I SO GET THIS POST! Sorry, that probably came across as overly enthusiastic, but seriously we are living parallel lives right now. We have the same issues going in and outdoors. It's a screaming fit which seems so ridiculous to me...I also hesitate to take him out because I'm afraid of his reaction when we leave whatever place we're at. Huggge meltdowns ensue. I too hope that time and maturity will help. In the meantime, wine will suffice.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I bet he totally understand on some level...and next time (dear I say next will be a tiny bit easier). I found as Ari got older if I set the rules ahead of time in an over the top stern way...and then I give her the fuzzy eyeball over and over...doesn't always work but it helps...It sucks when they melt down in public...I hate it...I hate the looks and the stares and everything else...but it does seem that it has improved with I guess that's the good news

4:51 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

that's my story and I'm sticking to it. :)Ahh.. over the shoulder, kicking, screaming, no reasoning, good!
We were hermits for many a year when Caleb was younger.
Eventually, you will get to the point where you don't care at all what the 'others' think. They are not walking in your shoes.. and you will probably never see them again, so what does it matter?

It gets easier to reason with them once they mature some...most of the time anyways.

Goodbyes are never easy. Especially when it is their favorite inanimate object!

6:48 AM  
Blogger Tes said...

I can so relate, it is few and far between now with Lila. But those experiences are still fresh in my mind. I do the same as Michelle now fortunatly or unfortunately my oldest (8yrs) will sometimes pipe up before me and I reminder her I am the parent and will handle it. Ava is a lot like her daddy as they still get embarassed and she wants Lila to stop right away, she only causes Lila to buck her even more vocally.
Keep trying, maybe try places that do not hold his most precious "trucks etc" so that he doesn't feel you are punishing him by leaving? Lila never had one item that was her focus so we had issues at a variety of places.

9:48 AM  

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