Sunday, July 22, 2012

Picnic Fun Almost Wasn’t

My son and I went to a special picnic the other day.

Journey of Hope is a cross-country bicycle trek that raises funds and awareness for people with disabilities. This week, the riders passed through our area, where a picnic was held for families with special needs to meet the young men and have fun.

I wasn’t sure if Kai would enjoy it; these sorts of events are hit-or-miss with him. But, I wanted to at least stop in and see if he would like it.

As my wife was busy sitting with a couple dogs, I took Kai. As he had his usual therapy session first, we did not arrive until well over an hour after the picnic started. But when we got there, Kai was eager to explore what was going on.

He quickly found an area for water balloons. Unfortunately, there were none left.

I told him that we could do water balloons at home, and tried to redirect him to one of the other activities. But he when he wants something, it is hard to get his mind unstuck. He kept getting madder and madder as he thought of not having the water balloons. “Stupid picnic! I want to go home!”

I was exasperated. Would we leave after only a few minutes?

Another parent suggested that I might find an unused balloon amidst the rubble of popped ones on the ground. So, I began searching. And, amazingly, I found one. Just one.

Kai was happy and we went to fill it with water. I was wondering what we would do after we popped that one.

In filling the balloon, the end broke off. It became impossible to tie. Oh great, now what?

One of the young Journey of Hope riders told Kai that he could pour out the water from the balloon onto his head. Kai liked that idea. And so he did.

And then he wanted to do it again. The young man suggested that it might be easier to pour water from a plastic water bottle instead. He was quite a good sport as he let Kai soak his perfectly coiffed hair. And just like that, Kai’s mood shifted from anger to great joy.

He next went over to the woman who was making balloon animals. I was amazed that he waited patiently for his turn and spoke with the woman while she made creations for other kids.

And then it was his turn. He didn’t ask for anything in particular. He just said he wanted “something big.” And so that is what she made for him.

He kept his new balloon hat on and went over to where music was playing and he danced to the tunes. It was fun to see him bopping to the music while the balloon guy jostled around on his head.

After that, he went to play Buddy Baseball. He played only long enough to bat and run the bases once.

Then it was time to get a spray-on tattoo.

We got a bite to eat, before heading home.

Kai was in a great mood.

I was in a contemplative mood, thinking how fine the line was between having a bad experience and having a great time. In this case, one water balloon and a nice young man made all the difference.

When we got home, his mood again shifted. He got mad when he found out that Mom had taken the dogs for a walk without him, even though he had told her it would be alright earlier.


But later, he calmed down.

And the dogs joined us at bedtime for storytime.

And as you can see, Becky is now feeling quite comfortable around Kai, and vice versa.


  1. Yuji-I think your description is so accurate of the roller coaster that we ride as parents of these kids. These amazing, exhausting, intense, and precious kids seem to be on their own roller coaster all the time too. I remember a therapist saying that ours will feel the same things but far more intense and extreme and that "it could be a bumpy ride."

    1. Kelly, I'm fairly used to the ups and downs, but the sudden shifts are still tough to deal with. But if its hard for me, I imagine it is even tougher on the child. So I must keep in mind.

  2. Awww I love this story
    Yuji that horrible moment is so familiar to me - when you know that your kid wanted the thing that he is not going to get - and is going to go into one of their major upsets -
    While I tell myself that R is going to have to get used to disappointments - its so great when they dont have to go through with it
    Loved the pics as always -the last one is too adorable !!

    1. Handling disappointments remain among our biggest challenges with Kai. He has made some progress, but still has a lot of difficulty in those situations. So, yes, it is very nice when you don't have to go through with it! :)

  3. I simply love that last picture. Many parents simply don't realize how crucial it is to read with their children at bedtime. It stimulates their mind and warms their heart. It is a time of great bonding and of great learning. Early advancement in reading and speaking all take place here. They learn, not only how to read, but they also pick up speech patterns (inflection, intonation, spacing, pace...etc).

    As parents age...and their children fly from the nest...this will become one of the parent's, as well as the children's, great precious memories.

    1. Bedtime reading has been a nightly tradition at our house since I became a dad. I know it benefits Kai in terms of his reading and speaking abilities, but I particularly enjoy it for the bonding. You are so right that it will be a precious memory in years to come.

  4. I absolutely love this story. And that picture of him beaming with his balloon hat is just too precious! What a wonderful young man that joined in with Kai's game. These types of people always warm my heart and restore my faith in humanity when it has been shaken. I'm so glad you had such a lovely day. And yeah, the emotional roller coaster can be tough. Congratulations on such a well managed day!


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