There were so many times when it could’ve gone bad.
Ten days on the road, hundreds of miles, five different hotels. A myriad of changes to routine.
I was braced for complications. My boy has had a rough time lately – stressed at school, agitated at home, anxiety placing him (and us) on a hair-trigger. We weren’t sure if our planned fall break road trip would relieve his stress or add to it. I was cautiously pessimistic. I knew we could have some problems if my kid’s current volatile mood didn’t lighten, especially being away from the safety of home. We wouldn’t know until we hit the road.
The first day, after a late start and a five hour drive, we got to our hotel after sundown. All day, we’d promised the kid – drive first, then swimming. As we checked in, we learned that the pool closed early. Crap.
But? OK. He settled for a dip in the hot tub and was fine.
The next day, we went up the road to our first tourist attraction of the trip and he refused to go down the escalator at the entrance. There was no freak-out, no big scene. Just steadfast, patient refusal. We found an alternate way down, and he did fine.
That night, his dumb mother set the scene for a sensory overload-induced meltdown, thinking he would enjoy the lights and shows on the Las Vegas Strip at night (forgetting that on a Friday the crowds would be heavy. Really, am I new here?). But, while his stress was apparent (and we won’t do that again), it didn’t overflow or become unmanageable. Especially once we found a place to stop for a cookie, he handled it fine.
On our long drives through the desert, and later through the mountains, the toy bin I always stash next to him was mostly ignored, as usual. He played with the window. Window down, hand out, flip once or twice in the breeze, window up. Pause for 5 minutes. Repeat. That raised our own stress some, but my kid did fine.
At the second hotel – again we’d promised swimming. But after a long day of driving – dinner first. Gobble food, back to the room, swimsuits on, cruise through the halls, goggles already on, we’ve got a cool hour before the pool closes. As we pass the windows overlooking the pool, it’s clear we’ll have it all to ourselves. Uh oh. Raindrops pucker the pool’s surface. By the time we get to the entrance door, it’s pouring. Despite my husband’s pleas of “We’ll get wet anyway!” we’re denied access. Sorry, sir, the pool is closed during inclement weather for your safety.
Our safety? I have little doubt that the thunder outside will be no match for what our fellow vacationers are about to witness. Forecast: meltdown.
But? Nothing. We turned around, promised swimming tomorrow, and went to grab some dessert instead. It was fine. Really fine.
After that, I knew that being on the road was some kind of magic. Through the entire trip — confronted by dogs that made him nervous, boat ramps that looked questionable, favorite DVDs that skipped, and food choices that were not quite right, my kid rolled with the changes. There were a few issues and tense moments, but anxiety and stress never won.
Now that we’re back to the real world, I’m watching to see if the magic carries over. Maybe pulling him out of his staid routines is the answer to coping with stress and anxiety. Maybe he, like us, just really needed a vacation.
Maybe we’ll have to embrace some kind of gypsy lifestyle.
Because apparently the road suits him. Just fine.
Posted as part of October 2015 Sensory Blog Hop
Welcome to the Sensory Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from sensory bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and The Jenny Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about what it’s like to have Sensory Processing Disorder and to raise a sensory kiddo! Want to join in on next month’s Sensory Blog Hop? Click here!