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Posts Tagged ‘Natural History Museum sprinklers’

Another Post About Balloons – What Would You Do?

July 13, 2011 3 comments

After reading this post make sure that you weigh in on the newest poll, posted in the right sidebar. I’m really curious about this one because even though I feel okay about how we handled it, I thought through several different scenarios and still feel like there was more than one “right answer” here.

Last weekend at the Natural History Museum sprinkler meetup we were busy having a good time splashing about when other people showed up. The nerve. Not just other people, but other people with balloons. Seriously, can we escape the freaking balloons for one day? One woman, whom I shall refer to from here on out as The Ringleader, brought a pump-your-own-and-let-it-squeal-through-the-air-deflating balloon kit, and was sharing it with any interested child. Including my 2 yr old. At first James didn’t notice – I thought, maybe this will be okay; these balloons look a little different and they are sailing through the sky, no chance of popping. Then one popped.

All hell broke loose, James started screaming and ran out of the sprinkler area. I corralled him onto our towel and offered him books, snacks, cash, but all he wanted was for me to “tell that lady to put her balloons away!” Though he was 20-30 feet away from the action, he was impossible to calm down and continued screaming loudly with his hands over his ears. Damn, people were starting to stare at us. I started having Central Park Zoo flashbacks (see Balloon Vendors post). I offered for James to sit on a nearby bench, about 20 feet further away, and read a book. He tearfully complied but another %$#@ing balloon popped and he went crazy on the bench, still perfectly audible to the growing crowd of curious onlookers.

At this point my 2 yr old daughter raced down from the sprinkler area with her hands over her ears to comfort James. Watching them both “sit out” on the bench with their hands over their ears, one voluntarily and one empathetically, I felt like I should be doing something. I watch The Ringleader gleefully leading children around like the Pied Piper. I said irritably to my husband, “What is she thinking bringing balloons to the sprinklers? Couldn’t she be a little considerate of other people’s situations?,” to which he said something about balloons outside and it being a free country and blah, blah, blah. I didn’t have time for reason – my kids were missing out on sprinkler time! We were having a meetup for special needs children, for crying out loud! Come to think of it, where were all of the other balloon phobes?

I thought about explaining our situation to The Ringleader and asking her to put the balloon pump away for a bit. Though many other parents were openly staring at my blubbering 10 yr old, she had not so much as glanced in our direction – too focused on her balloon magic, I guess. But then I looked at the crowd of excited children she had racing around behind her and I felt my indignation deflate (pardon the pun). My husband hustled James over to another bench, about 50 feet further away and out of sight of the balloons. I mean, why should everyone else’s fun be ruined so that James could play in the sprinklers balloon-free, right?

Then I watched my 2 yr old chasing the balloons, her hands still clamped firmly over her ears in silent support of her brother. I could tell she was torn between sharing in the same carefree exhilaration as all of the other children and comforting her very upset brother, who was far, far away from the balloons.

All joking aside, this is not an easy thing to watch your toddler struggle with. In fact, it makes my heart ache a little that she is learning this kind of empathy at such a young age. I don’t want her to see balloons  and feel a sense of panic, anxiety, unhappiness, worry or tension. I don’t want her to step on a sheet of bubble wrap at home and be chastised as James runs into his room hysterical. At 2 years old she should be able to see Curious George floating in the air with 50 balloons and not think he is scared because the balloons might pop!

We are not “soft” on James’s phobias – just last week I was bragging about how many he was able to overcome on our beach vacation, with a little coaching (and some neat props!). But balloons, popping, potential popping, things that sound like popping – this phobia has only gotten worse over the years and there seems to be no stopping it. It’s right up there with blood pressure cuffs and taking the elevator alone. Does it affect our daily life? Not really. Did my 2 yr old accidentally pop a plastic bag today and send James into a panic for the rest of the afternoon, in which he hid under the covers and cried every time he heard a noise (a book dropping, broom handle hitting the wall, toys crashing into a box, door closing too loudly)? You betcha.

So I’m passing the buck this time. What would you do if it was your child at the sprinklers? I know, you’ll need to use your imagination in a big way. But seriously, I’d like your opinion. Vote for what you think is the best answer in the poll to your right, or check Other and leave your potential solution in the Comments section.

July Calendar Updates – Plus Meetup Details For Tomorrow!

After a successful first meetup, July Excursions and Adventures is already being updated – I hope you took my advice and used a pencil on those calendars. Or, click on the calendar icon (bottom right on the main page) and you can download all of the events right onto your Google calendar – it will even email you reminders and updates (I think)!

****Tomorrow, July 9**** – Relax by the Natural History Museum sprinklers, 12 noon. My whole gang will be there between 12 and 12:30 depending on when the baby naps. Remember to bring a swimsuit and towel, and possibly a change of clothes if you want to go inside the museum afterward to cool off. We’re also bringing some snacks and drinks – the museum cafe is kind of $$ IMO. Email me if you have questions!

July 15* – Boat Basin Cafe for lunch followed by sprinklers at the Classic Playground (near 79th and Riverside on the water) 12:30pm

July 17 – New York Botanical Gardens – hands on exhibits in the Family and Children’s gardens, 1p.m.

July 21* – Highbridge Pool free swim in two Olympic sized pools, one of which is 1-2 feet deep! 11a.m. (much less crowded at this hour)

July 23 – V&T Pizzeria for lunch (110th and Amsterdam) followed by Morningside Park’s very cool playground (near 117th and Morningside) 12 noon.

*Indicates dates that have been changed or new dates.

August sneak peek: Police Museum, Bronx Zoo, BounceU, Science Museum, and Central Park Brass kids’ music series.

I hope to see/ meet you at one of these fun, upcoming events!

July Excursions, Adventures and Other Less Exciting But Equally Fun Gatherings of The Foorce

The schedule for July is below!! If you simply can’t wait another second scroll right down to it and start filling in those blank spots on your calendar. Just do it in pencil because I am still waiting to hear about James’s summer swim schedule, and you guessed it, the two aforementioned doctors’ appointments are still flapping in the wind.

If you’re still reading, I just want to take a second to clarify the whole “group” thing. I have received quite a few emails about how to “get into the social group” or “sign up for meetings” or “is there space left to join the summer group.” I’m flattered, really, and a little sorry to tell you – it’s not that exclusive. In fact, anyone can come – just part of what makes the get-togethers so exciting. Though the group is centered around special needs families, you don’t have to have a special needs family member to “get in.” Friends, family, neighbors, classmates, anyone you think might be interested is welcome to come – any age, disabled or not. The point behind this group (for me) is to provide social and fun opportunities that are inclusive to everyone. With the spread we have in our house, you know I mean everyone.

Here’s where it gets a little bit official, though. If you signed up for the mailing list OR subscribed to this blog you will get reminders and more details as events draw nearer – you don’t need to do anything else. You will also be asked to RSVP for some meetings, especially if they involve group discounts or bringing food (nothing worse than showing up with 3 dozen brownies for 2 kids who can’t eat chocolate). If you want to receive reminders but haven’t signed up or subscribed, sign up or subscribe. Email me if you’re confused now – we’ll work it out.

Without further adieu, I present the (tentatively) amazing July schedule (subject to all kinds of change):

July 5* – Potluck picnic at the Hudson “Swing a Ring” Beach (swingaring.com) 1p.m. Bring sand toys and lawn games!

July 9* – Relax by the Natural History Museum sprinklers, 12 noon.

July 14* – Boat Basin Cafe for lunch followed by sprinklers at the Classic Playground (near 79th and Riverside on the water) 12:30pm

July 17 *- New York Botanical Gardens – hands on exhibits in the Family and Children’s gardens, 1p.m.

July 20 – New York Science Museum including the Science Playground and Rocket Park Mini Golf, 11:00a.m.

July 23 – V&T Pizzeria for lunch (110th and Amsterdam) followed by Morningside Park’s very cool playground (near 117th and Morningside) 12 noon.

*Locations may be changed due to inclement weather.

June summary: DMF at Brooklyn Cyclones, Coney Island (22), Achilles 5M Race, Central Park (26)

August sneak peek: Police Museum, Bronx Zoo, BounceU, beach trip, and Central Park Brass kids’ music series.

I hope to see you at one or all of these events this summer!