Why Do I Even Try?

I ask myself that question after every failure. And recently, failures abound. Javan is highly unstable in his bipolar mania right now. He is just super intense and impossible to “handle,” impossible to control. He is MORE of everything than is usual, even for him. He is more impulsive, more fidgety, more sensory overstimulated, more defiant.

Let me tell you a little joke: Yesterday, I took my son to a Renaissance Faire by myself. Hilarious, right?!? We met with our homeschool group, who is composed of the most loving, caring, care free, accepting parents in the universe. I know, I know, I just said I went by myself, but you know what I mean. I was the only one responsible for keeping his behavior acceptable and keeping him safe.

I was responsible for keeping hims OUTSIDE the castle “gates,” which was really just an open archway, until the show began. Did I mention he is impulsive?

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Waiting Outside the Castle Gates

I was responsible for keeping him and others safe. Which made the situation in the next picture a bit of a doozy.

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Swordfight!

You see, just the day before, at our homeschool park day, these very same swords were brought out. Javan had asked to try one, and promptly whacked the kid who gave it to him a nice smack on the shoulder. When I wrenched the sword away from him to give it back to the kid apologetically, I was amazed at the weight of it! Those things can deal some damage! He had seen the sword-wielder engaging in pretend play with a friend and he thought the kid wanted to hurt his friend. So he hit him. The sword-wielder, being the sweet tempered, mature thing that he is said to Javan, “He’s my friend too. I wouldn’t hurt him.”

So, outside the Renaissance Faire gates, when Javan wanted to borrow the sword a second time, I held my breath and prepared to lunge should the slightest scowl cross his features. But he engaged in pretend play like a champion! Second chances are important.

I was responsible for keeping him in “the group” instead of in “the performers.” Oh, wait…oops.

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Engaged in Conversation with Friar Blllllullllullll

First fail, and we’re not even inside yet! Oh, well. This doesn’t really count as a fail at all since the sweet Friar went right along with Javan’s shenanigans as he was welcoming all to the castle. He introduced himself as Friar Blllllullllullll (the sound you make when you shake your head back and forth and your cheeks flop around). He said he already knew Javan’s name: “Mr. Minecraft,” since he had the word Minecraft on his shirt. And Javan didn’t even get mad at him for being wrong! This is kind of a big deal, since he doesn’t like nicknames or incorrectness in any form. Javan simply, kindly, and with a smile corrected the Friar.

I was also responsible for keeping those impulsive little hands out of the actors’ knapsacks and sporrans – a feat which kept me on my toes to say the least. He didn’t seem able to just ask about an item. He seemed compelled to touch and inspect every item with his own hands, with no regard to the object’s personal or impersonal nature. Have I mentioned impulsivity?

Aaaaand, here’s a nice example of when I failed to keep him as part of “the group” instead of part of “the performers.”

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The Juggler

In the above photo, the juggler is standing on an audience bench gathering said audience, so it’s only fair that once he was back on stage a member of the audience should grace his stage, right? Can you guess yet who the audience member might be? Ding, ding ding! Look behind the juggler and to the left. You’ll see a large, resounding bell on the stage post. The juggler did amazingly well as Javan ran up onto the platform, uninvited, and rang the bell with all his might until I could reach him. I’m uncoordinated, to put it mildly, so anyone who can simultaneously juggle, engage an audience, ignore a pealing bell in their ears, make direct eye contact with an apologizing mother, and reply in kindness is an exotic species to me.

In between shows, there was plenty of time to mill around doing nothing. Or everything. Depending on who you are. You could run relentlessly ahead of your mom, dart through shops, touch absolutely everything and everyone, and throw terrible, ugly, embarrassing tantrums when you don’t get to buy everything they sell and half the things they don’t. You could get your mother unsolicited parenting help from elderly shopkeepers who want to teach you a thing or two about how to respect a mother-or-any-woman-for-that-matter, or tips from caring shoppers or show-goers on how to control behavior by pinching that nerve between the neck and shoulder because that worked for their kids.

But, didn’t I know it was time to leave? Shouldn’t I have just taken him home and relieved everyone: him, me, everyone? Well, yes. Except that we drove an hour each way to see the jousting, and the jousting didn’t begin until promptly noon…and hour and a half after it was “time to go.” So, alas, we endured. This helped a little:

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The Pillory – Bwahahahahaha

As did this:

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Way, Way Too much Time Spent Lavishing Attentions on the Beautiful Queen

This didn’t:

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Spending $1 to Attempt to Climb a Rope Ladder for 1.5 Seconds

And, Finally!!! The Joust!!!

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His behavior was so, so not okay during this. I had pushed him too far staying for so much longer than he needed to stay. But he got the experience. We had to leave before he could be duly knighted, but by George he saw the joust. Most of it anyway. The highlight of the joust? When Sir Caleb introduced himself to the crowd and declared that he fought for honor and then Javan’s voice came loudly through the silence of the onlookers, “I fight for honor, too!” Caleb found him in the crowd and threw him a thumbs up.

See, Javan engages with experiences at a different level of intensity than “we” do. He didn’t sit quietly and recognize himself as an onlooker. He was one of “them.” He was a knight, a jouster, a juggler, a magician, a puppeteer, a gentlemen of the court. If you experienced everything that intensely, might your behavior be off just a little too?

So, to answer my previous question, why do I even try? I left that faire feeling embarrassed, worn out, frustrated, like crying. Javan probably felt the same things. Why put us both through that? Because, this:

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First Face Painting

This picture was taken today, the very day after experiencing the Ren Faire. Those feelings from yesterday were not suddenly and miraculously gone from me. I knew I could very well be putting myself in the same situation when I took Javan to a free kids art festival today. But what happened was what you see above: my son got his face painted for the very first time today! I asked him “Do you want to get your face painted?” just like I have every time we’ve passed a face painting booth for the last 5+ years. Only this time, he said, “Yeah.” Like it was no big deal. Like it was nothing out of the ordinary and he’d done it a thousand times. By the time his turn rolled around, he was slightly nervous and gave the artist instructions on where she could and couldn’t paint. The brush had to be tested on his hand first to make sure it wasn’t sharp. She put on the first dab of paint, and I held my breath. And then I saw his face break into the proudest, most gleeful smile and I heard his giggles as he realized he was doing it! He was getting his face painted. A childhood right of passage had been achieved and he knew it!

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Chico the Cheetah

That’s the story of how Javan became Chico the Cheetah. “Chic” like butt cheeks, Javan would say.

And that’s the story of why I try.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sherrie McKinney
    Mar 29, 2014 @ 22:11:17

    This will probably sound so silly, but I’m proud of you! I think you are an awesome mom. We all need little moments of stretching. Even Javan. and you do great with doing little moments. I love love love reading your blog and seeing your victories. I will be totally honest I teared up reading about how he got his face painted for the 1st time. And I got upset with the people that dared to tell you how to raise your son without knowing what was going on. You and Javan are so amazing! *hugs*

    Reply

  2. Lindsay Metzger
    Mar 30, 2014 @ 21:31:00

    I understand you were embarrassed, Krista. But what I saw of Javan was well suited to the interactivity of a Renaissance Faire. The queen was only to happy to indulge him, the juggler took his impulsivity in stride, the lady next to him in the audience actually guided his hand to touch her fur sash after he rang the bell, because she had noticed it engaged his senses. His verbal responses at the joust were not out of character with the period. Peasants and nobles alike shouted at the matter of ceremonies and at the knights, in and out off turn. I’m sure you were exhausted, Mama. But bless you for being willing to give him that experience. That day was full of kind people who wanted to interact with children, homeschool friends who know and care for Javan, and so many rich experiences. You said you know he internalized it. And it was such a rich and full thing to have. I saw you on and off during the morning, and while you were tense, everyone else I saw in garb was open to him, not negative. I’m sure you saw some negative things, heck, my “normal “(what does that mean, anyways?) children opened doors and windows, pushed boundaries, and we’re also ready to go before the joust but we made them stay through it. Some of it was dehydration. Despite bringing drinks, it just want enough for being outside all day. Xoxox

    Reply

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