Today was my niece's 6th birthday party. A wonderful day to celebrate with family, and a happy day for a special little girl. But, oh goodness... a 3 hour drive each way with Molly and Kennedy; girls who don't like changes in their routine or big crowds of people they don't know. Oh - and let's throw in a hot day for poor Molly who doesn't regulate temperature at all. But, we can do this, or so I tell myself - and when it came down to it - we did!
I must say Molly and Kennedy are great in the car. We gave them a good breakfast and made a quick stop at Target to pick up a few last things (and it allowed Molly to stretch her legs). The girls decided on Tangled and, thanks to the DVD player we installed when we bought the car, neither one of them can kick or throw the DVD player - leaving Mommy in charge! We made it to about Fairfield before Molly said, "Mom, did you bring the IPADS?" Well - of course I did, but I wasn't caving so easily. I'm trying very hard to get Molly to read and understand a digital clock - so I push a little bit. There is some whining, but alas whining is met with more time on the clock. Finally at 11am, Mommy caves and Molly gets to play IPAD - Cooking Mama is currently her favorite app and she gets so excited when she earns a new dish to cook. The pro of this app - she wants to try the dishes she is cooking, and is actually requesting VEGETABLES!!! Who knew?? Now, of course the squeaky voice in the other car-seat pipes in with - "IPAD TOO??". Thanks to the generosity of "Madi's Friends" we do have a 2nd IPAD and Keddy is soon thoroughly engrossed with Handy Manny Flash Cards.
I decided to only let them play for a half an hour, since we wanted them to nap - oh best laid plans! I gave them the half hour warning at the beginning and then a five minute and two minute warning. Both surrendered their beloved devices and watched the remainder of Tangled. We're now in New Jersey and they are still not asleep...I even put in UP, which puts Molly to sleep every time! No go.... so I put in Finding Nemo and they are very content, but hungry. We arrived in PA a little early for the party, so we decided to take them to Sonic. Their bellies were full and they were very excited to see their cousins, aunt & uncle, and grandparents.
Amazingly, the girls transitioned to the party house perfectly, but, as planned, we got there early. Everyone was familiar and it worked in our favor! As others arrived, we were able to transition to the pool and the kids were so happy. Hubby and I were both in the water with them, heck we're always with them. Between Kennedy's lack of fear for anything and Molly's coordination and motor planning issues plus heat sensitivity and seizures - we are always in the mix with the kids, wherever we go. We do try not to hover, or be a helicopter parent as it were - but we have to keep the kids safe!
Pool time came to an end and then the meltdowns came. You could see it building. Molly's eyes were darting about, she was crying and unable to process what we were saying. She started running away from us, and fighting us - but I was able to calm her down with the IPAD, of all things. I was able to calmly talk to her and get her to sit, with her cooling vest on and make meals for Grandma on her IPAD. She did have one brief seizure during this time, which made me so glad I had her sitting down with me. After the seizure was over, Molly was able to abandon the IPAD and play on the slide, join in the birthday song (something she usually isn't able to handle) and eat cake with a table full of children. (Keddy was the one upset because she couldn't blow out the candles - but hey you can't please everyone!)
I always hear from older generations about how they just played in their day. I know, I played too. Technology for me was Mario Brothers on the original Nintendo, Tetris on my Gameboy, and Oregon Trail or Carmen San Diego after booting the computer in DOS mode. But, this is a different world. Technology is an integral part of my kid's lives. If I can use technology to entertain my children, appeal to their visual learning style, provide extension activities for them, feed their sensory needs, and give them the brief escape they need to cope - then I am going to! I don't think we abuse the technology, but it's power is amazing!
When we left PA after 6pm, we knew we needed our very sleepy kids to stay awake for the almost 3 hour ride home. They watched the end of Nemo and then chose Enchanted - a personal favorite! When Molly asked for the IPAD again, I submitted and let them play for the ride home. The two of them were cooking, coloring, constructing puzzles, and decorating sticker books. And the best part - I didn't have to pick up a single crayon or lost puzzle piece nor did I have to repair a broken sticker. I had 2 exhausted kids, who were able to cope with the distraction of their technology! They made it home, and both were fast asleep within five minutes of hitting the pillow.
Lesson learned today: let your children be your guide - really listen to what they are saying. The meltdown today wasn't Molly being bad, it was Molly saying something feels funny and I don't know how to tell you - help me! And now this very sleepy Mommy is going to get some rest. Happy Birthday Princess Morgan - Hope you have a fabulous party, we certainly enjoyed it!