Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Lesson in Parenting | Lantern Festival 2015

We had been waiting for months for the Lantern Festival.  Tickets purchased...check.  Meet up plans confirmed...check.  Bags packed...check.  Sick kid...wait, we didn't order a sick kid?!?

Truman woke up the day of the festival feeling...well, like crap.  We knew this because he told us over and over again.  But you see, we had these tickets.  They were bought and paid for months ago...and they weren't cheap.  We had friends from north of Denver, driving down to see us.  We treated Truman's symptoms with Tylenol and cold medicine and got him down for a nap.  We figured he would be fine after a rest...at least well enough to attend the event for about 3 hours.  There would be lots to do and see.  Live music, food, kids, and s'mores all from the comfort of his stroller.  We could do this!

We could not have been more wrong...

Just getting Truman to the car was a challenge.  He simply did not want to go.  He quite vocally expressed his desire to stay in his "choo choo bed" and watch his shows.  He struggled fiercely as I buckled him into his car seat.  Flailing and wailing in an effort to disuade our departure.  It was not his lucky day, we departed anyways.

The venue was about 30 minutes south and Truman slept the whole way.  It's like a parental amnesia kicked in during the silence...as if the previous melt down had never existed.  I started to let myself get excited.

The event was being held on the in field of a local motor speedway.  Truman woke up as we were pulling into the parking lot.  It was then the chant started...

"I want to go home...."

"I want my choo choo bed..."

"I want my show..."

This went on for the next hour.  As we stood in line to collect our lanterns and care packages, as we walked over to the in field, as we bought festival food, and as we tried to roast s'mores.  The chant excalated to a rant, getting continually louder and was then accompanied by tears.  Even in the commotion of the festivities we knew Truman was starting to effect the enjoyment of the people around us.

A woman in the concessions line politely asked if Truman struggled with sensory issues.  She wondered if maybe all the activity was too much for him.  I sheepishly replied, it was too much, but because we were pretty sure he was coming down with something.  I admitted we were selfishly hoping to ride it out because we had paid for the tickets  several months ago and had really been looking forward to being there.  She nodded and responded understandingly.  Assuring me she probably would have done the same thing.

A second mom, sitting by the fire ring we were using to roast marshmallows, asked if bubbles might make Truman feel better.  She had brought some for her own children and had an extra to spare.  I thanked her for her generosity, looking beyond her and into Brian's desperate stare.  No bubbles were going to make any of this better.  I knew it was time to go.

Truman was now crying and coughing.  I was also having difficulty with the smoke from the bonfires and torches.  It was as if I was having an allergic reaction.  My eyes would not quit watering...and they hurt.  And in that moment, we snapped out of our selfishness fog and back into reality.  A snap decision to return to the car with Truman was the best idea of the evening.  

We didn't really discuss anything, but that I would take Truman to the car.  Just knowing we were returning to the car lifted Truman's mood.  It was starting to get dark and people had begun to flood the single access to the in field that acted as both entrance and exit.  There were also two flights of stairs and just me to manuver Truman and the stroller.  I did okay getting down from the field into the tunnel.  It was a tight fit.  Those exiting were limited to walking single file.  As the exit and ascending stairs approched I began to get  a bit anxious.  And then, as if the kind stranger behind me had read my thoughts, a young man no more than 21 discontinued the discussion he was having with friends and appeared at the front of the stroller ready to help me carry it to the top.  I thanked him and then he was off, disappearing into the crowd.  

I made my way to the car and got Truman settled inside.  Knowing Brian's phone wasn't working, I texted the friend's we were with and asked if they could bring Brian home after the festival.  She said they'd take good care of him and get him home saftely.  

I don't remember the last time I'd been this excited about attending an event and yet, in that decision to go home I felt relief.  Lucky for me there are a few in every crowd that can't follow directions and a few stray lanterns found lift off while I was pulling out of the lot.  I reached for my camera, but it was dead.  What's that line..."you can't take a picture, the moment is already gone."  It wasn't the "Tangled" experience I had imagined, but with Truman comfortable and calm in the back seat I'll take what I can get.  It filled my need.  My first person experience to be forever committed to memory only.

We made it home safely and I got Truman settled in bed.  I took his temperature and found it to be unreasonably high...no wonder he was acting so miserably.  I treated the symptoms and settled him into his bed with a show.  He did not cry once he was where he had asked so desperately to be.  He knows what he wants and needs, and in the future we promise to better listeners.  I'm definitely glad it didn't take the whole evening for us to "wise up".  I wasn't too unhappy to be home either.  Once away from the smoke, my eyes stopped watering and my headache dissipated.  

Eventhough it was the best decision for me to come home, I couldn't wait until Brian arrived home as well.  I pounced on him as he walked through the front door.  He was grinning ear to ear as he tossed me the camera.  He had had a blast!  Brian was able to capture some amazing photos and video which he compiled here!

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