Sadly, no. Apparently not. Or at least we think we learned something but we don't let it sink in and we don't apply our knowledge in situations where it might be useful.
Jack + Sensory Overload = Meltdown. That's the equation. Very simple. The answer leaves no room for doubt. We know what we get. Why have we not learned from it.
Today we went to the mall. (no sensory overload THERE!) Sheesh. We went to get our Christmas card photo taken. Oh and by the way if you do get a card from us, I'm the gross bloated looking one on the far right. None of the pictures of me came out well. None. I hemmed and hawed with the sales guy who was trying to get me to pick at least one family picture to go on the card with two close-ups of Jack. In one my eyes were closed. In another it looked like I was eating popcorn. In the one where I actually looked okay, Dennis looked like a serial killer. "What about that one...?" I suggested. "NO!" Dennis said. Okaayyyyyy... So finally Dennis and the store guy settled on one where we were all smiling. Dennis and Jack looked great. I had two chins and looked like a wrestler.
Anyway, I'm digressing. We went to the mall to get our pictures taken. Everything was nice. Jack had had a GREAT week at school. We all had a good morning...uneventful. And even the pictures went pretty well, except for the fact that I can NEVER be in any of them without looking like... well, read the first paragraph.
We went to the new play area in our mall. Small as shit, no room to move, with lots of big kids pretending to be little kids. There is an age limit of 5, but no one enforces it. So it was crowded, and chaotic. And loud. Jack ran and dove and slid and knocked kids over. Then the elf showed up.
Jack: Hey look, an elf!
me: (averting my eyes because I do not like peope that are dressed up as things like Santa or the Easter bunny or elves. It freakes me out.) Oh...cool...
Elf: Hey little boy, do you want to help me with some magic?
Jack: (rips a mirror out of the guys bag) Okay.
me: Jack! Stop grabbing his things and put that back.
Jack: Let's get on with the magic.
Elf: Okay boys and girls, gather around and I'll pick my assistant!
Jack: Me, me memememememe!
Elf: How about you little girl?
Jack: This guy is ANNOYING! (and he stomps away because he wasn't picked)
We decided to walk around the mall and get lunch and then head home. It was a madhouse. Music, lights, the freaken Christmas tree was up...like total mayhem. On the way back to the car, we passed by the play area again.
Jack: Can I go in one more time please please?
(against our better judgement) Dennis: Sure...
Jack: (screamed from the escalator when he saw the elf in the play area) Hey the CREEPY guy is back!!! (all the moms stopped to look)
So Jack played for a couple more minutes. Some bigger kids showed up. They started pushing Jack down on the little infant slide.
Jack: Okay then! I'll just push you back if that's what you wanna do! (kid has no fear)
me: And that's it, let's go. It's too crowded in here.
Jack: But but NOOOO! (and cue the full on meltdown complete with falling on the floor and kicking and screaming.)
I dragged him out of the play area and realized we had lost Dennis somewhere. I tried texting him to let him know we were done.
Jack: (after 5 minutes of crazy, had finally calmed down) Can we do something else here!???
me: Look, there's facepainting over there...we can try that until Daddy shows up, okay? Just calm down.
So we get in line, which was very long and NOT moving. Then a mom cuts in front of me and says that clearly I was BEHIND her. I let it go. Then her OTHER 3 kids show up for face painting and I see that we're never gonna get up to that table.
me: Come on Jack, the mall is just too crowded. (cue meltdown number 2)
This next meltdown was a rager. It lasted all the way through the mall, out the door, into the parking lot and in the car. It took me about 10 minutes to get Jack in the car, have him stop kicking the back of the seats and on and off argue with Dennis about who was controlling what part of this incident. We were all pissed. Just as I got Jack in his seatbelt for the 3rd time...little bleeper kept unbuckling it...a car beeped behind me. A lady yells out "Are you leaving or what??" I flipped her off. Could she not hear what was happeining in the car? I guess not.
Later on after everyone calmed down and swore that we would never ever return to any mall on the face of the earth, I talked to Jack about his behavior. Oh and after I had him write "I will listen to my Mommy" 10 times on a piece of paper. Yep, I'm old-schoolin it. I had no clue what else to do. Then I had him write an apology letter to me.
me: You feel any bettter now?
me: Was it worth it to have a fit in the mall? Did that make us stay in the play area longer?
me: What might you do next time when I ask you to leave.
Jack: I'll listen.
me: We thought we would go back tomorrow when it was less crowded, but after your behavior today, we're not going back.
Jack: I know.
me: Is there something I can do to help you when you get that upset? I know you can't control yourself.
Jack: I don't know. Itt's like I have the whole internet running around in my head. Back and forth.
me: Is that what it feels like?
Jack: Yeah it's like a car race of stuff in my head and I can't make it stop.
me: I'm sorry Jack, we should just avoid places that are that crowded and noisy.
Jack: Then I won't get so annoyed at everything.
Now, can I remember this next time and not put the poor kid through this again? I tried to tell Dennis...it's not his fault, he just can't control himself. It's not a personal attack against us, though it feels like it. Do I need to remember our trip to Disney? Talk about sensory overload. All Jack wanted to do was play in the hotel pool. We should have known better. Sorry Jack!