Three years ago this month, my son was diagnosed with pneumonia and asthma. He was 2.5 at the time. It happened the day after we went to our local pumpkin patch to celebrate Halloween. Here he is in his 2.5 year old glory:
That night he was gasping and wheezing. In the morning, he was having so much trouble breathing, he could not sit up. He was almost hospitalized, but after a full day of treatment in the pediatrician’s office, and back and forth at the hospital, the doctor allowed him to go home. At home, I gave him his first dose of oral prednisolone and he promptly barfed all over me from hair to shoes. It was the first time he ever threw up.
I bring this all up because yesterday was his very first kindergarten field trip. And guess where? Yes, the now infamous, pumpkin patch. The one that triggered the allergies and the onset of pneumonia. The hay, the dirt, the animals and the mold from the rotten pumpkins. What to do?
The pediatrician told me to go. It was time to give it a shot again. This was encouraging but still, once bitten – twice shy. I gave him all his medicines, brought along an inhaler and off we went.
I had different concerns this time. Aside from the asthma, I had to worry about the combo. You know – over-stimulation with the whole kindergarten class and the pumpkin patch itself.
We got there. First test? We had to wait for the whole group to get there and for the activities to commence. Test passed. While he waited, my son was pacing on an old tree trunk set out like a bench with some of his classmates.
When one of his multiple “girlfriends” arrived, she took him by the hand, and led him around in circles for a bit. I watched this in person for the first time. She seems to genuinely like walking around with him. I’m not sure he feels the same, however. But good-naturedly, he put up with it. (He will make an excellent husband someday!)
The first stop was the train ride. Test two – This was a bit confusing as the teachers told us the hay ride was first. It is important that I keep the order straight for my son. He needs to know where we are going and what we are doing. He seemed to take it all in stride.
Test Three – On the train. He was scared but excited. He was okay but then came the tunnel. He is terrified of tunnels, the car wash, and any long freeway underpasses. I warned him it was coming. I held him tight and he said nothing other than saying it was the “subway” which is a reference to a Team Umizoomi cartoon episode that he watches repeatedly. Test passed.
Test Four – Crowds and confusion. Once we got off the train, there was some confusion and lots of people. The group loosely reassembled and now headed to the hay ride. I started to see the wear and tear setting in. He appeared a bit dazed…
It was at this point that I realized my son has something of a scale. He can start out balanced or slightly off-kilter. Each piece of sensory input starts to weigh on the scale until it tips over and the meltdown ensues. I could see the pieces starting to heap on that scale as we walked toward the hay ride.
Test Five – The hay ride. This involved going through a line, waiting for a tractor pulling a trailer filled with hay to pull forward and take the next group. The tractor’s motor was loud. The kids and parents in line were chattering away. The line itself was a lot for him. But no bad behavior. And the hay ride took us to the actual pumpkin patch where we choose our pumpkins.
Test Six – Falling down in the patch. Tripped on a vine. Fell. Yelled “Train!” This means “Ouch – that hurt!” but “train” is so much more conducive to a meltdown. This was followed by yelling colors. Eventually, he was distracted enough to pick his pumpkin out. He was also skillful enough to get picked up and was looking quite tired. We’ll call this a partial pass.
Heading over to the slide, I had my doubts. He demanded I go with him. He kept putting his feet up so we could not do more than inch down a 50 foot slide. Then, he laid down at the bottom and would not get up trapping me and about four other kids behind us. Fail.
Time to go. Just before the exit, there was a little tractor. He got on just as he also got on the up curve of the meltdown.
It was a lot for the little guy. The best part is we almost made it. Each year, it’ll get easier. The scale won’t tip as much, and he’ll get through it all. At least, I hope so.