Unexpected events is one of Kai's primary challenges. He likes it when things go according to plan and struggles when things do not, as is often the case in life.
At school, he still gets upset when there is a fire drill or when special events cause things to deviate from the normal routine. At home, he likes to plan out and write down his daily schedule.
A social worker that we have been seeing suggested that we could try to address this by setting up fun, unexpected events on weekends to have Kai realize that unexpected events do not necessarily lead to unpleasant outcomes, and have him practice dealing with these situations. The idea is that my wife and I would plan something fun - it could be an activity, a new meal, really anything - but we would not tell Kai too far ahead of time so that it would be a surprise for him.
Today we had our first Sunday Surprise.
I did tell Kai yesterday that we would start these Sunday Surprises and explained what we were hoping to accomplish.
He was not happy about it.
He wanted to know what the surprise would be. He said he wanted to plan for it and put it in his schedule. I explained again that we wouldn't tell him because we wanted him to get used to dealing with unexpected events.
Today, he got more anxious. I did tell him in the morning that the Surprise would be an activity we would do as a family and gave him a heads up on the time. We would leave the house at 10:30. But he was not happy that he did not have more information about where we would go or what we would do. He started yelling that he had enough stress in his life and this was adding to it.
Finally, when it was time to leave, we told him where we were headed. We would go to nearby Evanston, home of Northwestern University, and walk around the lakefront and look for Pokémon. After that, we would go to a great burger joint where they had special french fries and milk shakes.
He finally seemed somewhat happy.
It was a beautiful fall day with unseasonably warm temperatures. It was a perfect day to get out and walk around.
The lakefront by the Northwestern campus was really beautiful. There is a nice big park and all along the rocky shore, students have created graffiti art.
My wife had never been to this part of Evanston before and enjoyed seeing the Northwestern campus. Kai just enjoyed playing Pokémon Go.
Afterward we went to another part of town to have lunch at Edzo's. We each had their famous milkshakes - Kai had Oreo, my wife had coffee, while I had hot fudge. Kai had already eaten the cherry and whipped cream on top by the time I snapped this photo.
Kai also had a Chicago-style hot dog which he enjoyed. My wife and I had burgers which we both loved. We also had the garlic fries - very garlic-y which was a good thing if you like garlic.
As we were leaving I asked Kai how he liked the first Sunday Surprise. He said it was better than he thought it would be. And he was happy because he caught a lot of Pokémon.
It will be interesting to see if this type of experience every week helps him deal with other unplanned events. But it can't hurt to practice it. And so far we are off to a good start.