Sunday, August 11, 2013

That's It ... No More Carnivals

It's times like this that make me think of a classic episode of The Simpsons, in which Homer, upon the family's return from their latest disastrous outing, states something along the lines of, "I think we should all agree to disband as a family."


Of course, I'm not serious. I love Prickly Dad. I love Bug and Pie. I love this little family we have built. But I have to be blunt about one thing: I can't do carnivals. I, the mom, have a meltdown. Then one or both kids have a meltdown. Then Prickly Dad gets angry. This is the way it goes pretty much every time.

Why does this happen to me? There are too many variables and too many snap decisions that have to be made. Where is the ticket booth? How long is the line? How much are the tickets? How many tickets am I going to need? Do I buy a whole sheet now and risk having a bunch of leftovers, or do we buy a few now and a few later? Why is my 40" tall kid not allowed to go on the swing ride at this carnival when he was allowed to go on the same, exact ride at the other carnival, and how am I supposed to explain it to him? Why does this ride cost two tickets and this other ride cost three tickets? Why are none of the entrances to the rides clearly marked? Where do you line up? Where is the food truck that has plain hot dogs for the kids? How do I tell the boys they can't keep playing the carnival games because they're fixed and overpriced, and we could just as easily stop at the dollar store to get a cheap stuffed duck? Why don't they put lids on the lemonade (isn't this chaotic cluster-eff supposed to be for kids? Kids need lids)? And where the hell are the porta-potties?

On top of all this chaos, my boys, as is to be expected, want to do everything now, now, now ... and I can't respond to them properly because I'm having a meltdown myself.

I'm a "Highly Sensitive Person" (someone who, these days, might be diagnosed with a sensory processing issue). I don't do loud well. I don't do chaos well. I don't do over-stimulation well. I have a hard time making decisions under normal circumstances, let alone amidst the sensory bedlam of a carnival.

Prickly Dad tried to placate me last month at the State Fair with a deep-fried Reese's Peanut Butter Cup on a stick (I have to admit, it was heavenly), and I tried my best to stay calm. (Sidebar: I have to give a major shout-out to Wade Shows, the outfit that ran the carnival at this summer's fair -- they replaced the ticket system with swipe-cards and had excellent signage throughout the midway that clearly showed prices and entrance and exit points for each ride. They obviously understand frazzled parents.)

I wish I liked going to carnivals, but I just don't -- and we're going to have to figure out a way to be okay with that. Prickly Dad can take the kids on his own if he really wants to go. Or if he absolutely needs me to go, I can take a time-out and sit under a tree until I calm down if I need to (I had to do this recently with Bug -- he's been mentioning lately that he doesn't care for carnivals either). Everybody can't like everything, right?

That way, we don't have to disband as a family. Yet.

Some helpful links:
Characteristics of Highly Sensitive People
10 Tips for Highly Sensitive People
Planning a Disney Trip with Sensory Processing Precautions
SPD Kids and Amusement Parks

And now to the Sunday Parenting Party!

Last week was my debut as a co-hostess of one of my favorite blog linkups, and I was happy to discover another great mom blogger, Hannah, from Paint on the Ceiling, who submitted a post called "9 Things I've Changed My Mind About." Chelsea, from Moments a Day (who I discovered through Pinterest a few weeks ago), submitted "10 Life Lessons for Kids," which is also applicable to grown-ups. Thanks for posting, ladies!

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