Tuesday, July 13, 2010


This was Denis' 25th high school reunion weekend. It would be dinner on Saturday, sans kiddos, then a gathering at a classmate's house on Sunday afternoon. It was sunny and warm on Saturday so we opted to go to the pool. We went to The Big Surf Wave Pool in Mount Prospect just to try it out for ourselves. It had a zero depth end (the shallow end) then it got much deeper to accommodate the waves. The pool seemed small when I first saw it, but watching the really big waves along the back wall and then the milder ones that ended up in the shallow end made me a tad nervous that the kids would get swept up into a vortex and trapped in a drain. Didn't happen, obviously. There were brief periods when the waves shut off and it was a calm pool again. Nikko loves being in the water wherever we take him. Ronin and Audrey were apprehensive at first, but warmed up after lots of coaxing. A supply of DumDum lollipops helps keep the kids still when I have to change them out of wet clothes and into dry ones. Everybody napped at some point when we returned, and then my parents came before 7p to babysit the kiddos for the evening. Nikko was anxious when they arrived but didn't start to cry until I put on my shoes. He seems to observe my footwear to see if I'm leaving the house or not.

Denis and I arrived at J. Alexander's, a restaurant in Oakbrook, to meet up with 25-30 classmates. A few minutes after we arrived, his buddy Denny showed up with his wife, Jennifer. I had heard that Denny had a son who was autistic, so Jennifer instantly became my conversation buddy for the evening. Their son, SoHan, is high-functioning, perhaps even Asperger's but I only caught a little of that conversation from Denny. It was fine talking about our sons and having empathy for each other, especially concerning meltdowns and potty training stressors. I made some polite conversation with some of the other guests but it was really Jennifer who I sat next to. The post-party was at a club named SKY which was literally across the street and owned by Denis' buddy Reggie. Most of his 'mates danced the night away and the music was a mash-up of the 80's and today. Lots of Black Eyed Peas. We came home by 1:30a and Nikko had fallen asleep on the couch in the living room. Audrey had difficulty falling asleep according to Mom, but got tired by 9:30 by playing in the living room longer. I am always so grateful when my parents watch the kids because they generally like staying at home and could be accomplishing more things at home. But they enjoy hanging out with my kiddos, and with Ronin being so verbal it keeps everyone entertained. We rarely get a babysitter because of Nikko's meltdowns (especially when I walk out the door) and handling all three kids when they are so young is difficult for any one person who doesn't see them on a daily basis. I enjoyed the freedom of hanging out with Denis immensely, knowing that the next day I'd have to take care of the kiddos in foreign territory...

On Saturday after lunch time we drove down to Justice to meet up the classmates at a friend's house. I was told that they had a swimming pool and the kiddos were invited to swim in it. I dreaded this information and made a decision early that my kids would NOT be allowed to go in the water. When we arrived and entered the backyard I was firm on my decision and was more anxious because the pool was a big part of the backyard. It was fenced and had a wooden staircase but the door was left open for easy access. It would be a challenge to keep the kids away. Water is Nikko's greatest stim of choice so seeing the pool forced me to think of ways to distract Nikko. I saw Doritos on the food table so I steered Nikko in that direction and it worked. There was no way I was going to don a bathing suit in front of these strangers, and this was not a zero-depth pool. It was a bona fide four+ feet deep pool. The kiddos haven't used boogie boards, floaties or life vests yet and I didn't want them to try it for the first time in a real pool. (Note to self: Next time we go to Flick Park, we'll rent vests and give it a try.) One funny part of the day was meeting another 2-year old named Joel. He wanted to hang around Ronin, and when he found out Ronin's name Joel said, "That's just like our dog's name. Ronin." Indeed, it was! LOL! One not so funny part was that I was trying to clean Nikko up and join the others down by the basketball court where Denis was with Audrey and Ronin in a wagon. When I came down to them, I saw that Audrey was sitting in the wagon alone. I asked where Ronin was and then I saw him, standing by the edge of THE POOL. I called at him sharply to come down the stairs, he obeyed and told me that he wanted to go into the pool. My answer was a firm NO and I told him to go run along. It really freaked me out to see Ronin standing on the edge looking into the pool because while there were other tweens splashing about, if Ronin even tried to lean over and accidentally fall in, I don't think anyone would have noticed. He would have sunk without a word, not knowing how to swim. OK, the visual is bothering me so I'll stop. The rest of the afternoon was fine. Our kids were extremely well-behaved, despite the lure of the pool, and so I am very grateful.

Today, Monday, was Three Wee Camp again. Melisa and I miscommunicated about the location so she was late by 15-20 minutes. Nikko had been at the sand table the entire time, looking my way once. When Melisa arrived I walked toward Nikko to say good bye so he wouldn't freak out if I had just left him. He got anxious and started going toward the door, but Melisa held him back. I left, closing the preschool doors behind me. I went to the front desk and could hear Nikko screaming and screaming. I think he stopped after five minutes, which sounds short but is really, really long when a child is screaming through it. When I came back to pick him up at 11:30 he was happy to see me. Melisa said he did ok, but she noted that the teachers in the camp didn't play much with the other kids. I had warned Melisa that there was a lot of Free Play, especially while the teachers worked on the craft with the kids. Melisa said the kids ended up playing with her a lot, despite Nikko being distracted from the sand table, because the kids seemed starved for attention that the teachers weren't giving them. I knew this from last week, and later I told Denis that I was really glad that Nikko was going to Westbrook because his teachers there were really working with Nikko and monitoring his progress. I don't think a park district preschool would use a formal IEP with special needs kids, but I do know that Nikko would suffer without one. The rest of our day today was uneventful, except that I had asked Nikko some simple requests (More juice? Give me your glass, Nikko. More ice cream? Give me your bowl, Nikko.) and he was able to execute them.

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