Monday, May 14, 2012

Celebration Weekend

We often use positive reinforcement to encourage Kai to continue to perform well in areas that are a challenge for him. So, of course, we wanted to give him a big reward for achieving Level 3 at school last week.

This weekend, we traveled to Wisconsin for an overnight visit to a waterpark.

Kai loved the idea of staying at a motel, but I don’t think he was particularly excited about going to the waterpark itself.

Before we went to the waterpark, we took a quick look around the town of Lake Geneva. Kai especially enjoyed the blue sorbet. Here he is showing how his tongue matches his hat and jacket.

Then, we went to the waterpark. We were deflated when Kai was too scared to go on any slides. He has become a pretty good swimmer and does well in the pool when he is under the supervision of his swim instructor. But he seems to lose all of his confidence, and abilities, when he is in the water with us.

I finally coaxed him to go down a very small slide, one for much younger kids. And even on that one, he kept grabbing the sides to keep from going fast, or, at least as fast as you can go on a baby slide.

He then asked for a life jacket. At first, I refused, as he certainly knows how to swim well enough that he shouldn’t need one in such shallow water where he can touch the bottom of the pool.

But I finally relented when I decided that I’d rather he wore it and had fun than be anxious the whole time.

And after that, he seemed more comfortable on the baby slide.

At this waterpark, the next slide up from the baby slide is a very high, long, winding slide that you ride down while sitting in an inner tube. I first figured that there was no way we were going to get Kai to try that.

But my wife and I wanted to try it so we rode down together while Kai watched. It was really fun, and I thought that Kai might actually like it if we could only get him to try it.

And so, I decided to try to coax him to go down one time.

I conferred with my wife, and then we made an offer. Kai would get one of his beloved Icky Stikeez if he went down the big long slide just once.

He was scared. But he wanted the prize. And when we reassured him that he would be safe, he finally agreed to try.

It was a long walk up to the top of the slide.

When we reached the starting point, Kai slowly sat in front of the two-person inner tube. He was apprehensive. He clutched the handles. And then we were off.

He screamed, but it sounded like it was as much because of joy than of fright.

And when we got to the bottom, he was laughing, and gleefully said that he wanted to do it again.

And we climbed back up to the top and did it again. And then he wanted to ride again, and again, and again, each time alternating between riding with me and riding with Mom.

At some point, he took off his life jacket, saying that he did not need it anymore.

My wife and I were exhausted from climbing the stairs over and over. But it was a good kind of exhaustion. Too often we are exhausted from trying to get Kai to do something with us on a vacation. This time, we were exhausted because he was doing it, and having such fun.

That night, we had dinner in our room while watching a dvd. It was a great time.

And then, the next morning, we went back to the waterpark again. And had just as much fun.

On our last run before we had to leave, Kai asked if he could go down in a tube by himself. We said sure, as we smiled at how his attitude toward waterslides had shifted from when we first got there the day before.

We were on this mini vacation because Kai had overcome some major hurdles at school. Now, on this trip, he overcame his fear and had a great time.

His accomplishment at school, followed up by the great time we had on this trip, was the best Mother’s Day present of all.

After his last run down the slide, Kai talked about how he wanted to come here again. He asked if we could come back when he made Level 4 at school. Of course, we said yes.

Level 4 will be another big challenge for him. But he is motivated. Let’s see what he can accomplish.


  1. Brilliant. well done you for not giving in too easily, and for understanding that the small life-jacket step back would be a big help for the step forward. And brilliant reward understanding the kind of thing would be used for an NT child! So happy you can see these big improvements, especially when you take a step back and read over your blog yourself- sometimes it's easy to get bogged down in the here and now! I'll remember to take a leaf out of your book :-)

    1. Thanks, Steph!

      You are so right that it is easy to get bogged down in the here and now. Keeping this blog does help me keep track of the progress that isn't always easy to see.

  2. You did an excellent job doing what a father must sometimes do. Now Kai realizes that to break down fear into small pieces...and to never give to eventually conquer the fear.

    I am glad you had such a successful vacation.

    1. Thanks, Shiroi. I constantly preach to him to never give up... hopefully, it is sinking in!


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