Went to Seaworld with difficult child's and lived to tell about it... sort of.

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by gcvmom, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    husband got tickets for Seaworld earlier this year so we decided to go yesterday before the kids start back at school. I had some points racked up at Holiday Inn, so I was able to get a free room night for Sunday so we could drive down early and let the kids go swimming and not be so tired from driving down Monday morning.

    I'm not so sure that was a good idea with difficult child 2 still not totally stable.

    He was very hyper and impulsive Sunday evening. Dinner out at a Chinese buffet was an exercise in frustration -- he is a very messy eater for starters. He is careless and uncoordinated. And when you throw in the impulse control problems it made for a stressful meal out. I see some of his behaviors as a sort of stimulus seeking -- either trying to get a response from people around him (teasing, taking things that don't belong to him, saying inappropriate things) or to stimulate his senses in some other way (he puts hot sauce on most things, mixes foods you wouldn't think of mixing).

    We watched a movie in the room, but in between difficult child 2 was bugging the sibs and husband had gone to sleep with his headphones on so it was just me trying to manage the clowns. He's really not too bad on his own, but add the other two, and the dynamics change dramatically.

    At Seaworld the next day, things went fairly well until about 2pm when we stopped for a late lunch. difficult child 2 was just all over the place. Couldn't sit still to eat much. Was trying to climb things he shouldn't be, etc. It got particularly difficult around 4pm waiting in line for one of the few rides they have. It didn't help that the line was an hour long (which is about 1/2 of what it was earlier in the day). It was all husband and I could do to keep difficult child 2 from bumping, make that crashing, into people in front or behind us. We tried playing hand games, mental games, physically restraining him, keeping him separated from the sibs -- it was hard, frustrating WORK for a very short ride. I don't think we handled it too smartly. In hind sight, I would have had husband take difficult child 2 for a walk and then return once we were at the front of the line so he wouldn't have to try to stand there for so long AND behave.

    If these tickets hadn't been free, we probably would not have attempted this trip at all.

    He seemed to get a second wind after that ride and was much more manageable the rest of the evening, although he was very loud at times and still had a lot of movement (swinging the arms a bit too wildly). On the drive home, though, he was fine. Maybe because he was so tired (and had taken his medications).

    He dropped his Depakote dose last night, so we'll see how the rest of the week goes. I've got to get a handle on his sleeping cycle. I can't let him sleep in like he has been for very much longer. In fact, I think next week I'm going to have to switch to the regular school schedule or he'll never be able to function when school starts back up again. I'm a little anxious about how things are going to go anyway since he's not 100% stable yet. And I don't even know which school he's going to be attending yet since the one I thought he was going to be at has him on a wait list... hopefully I'll know by the end of this week so I can start discussions with whomever his teacher will be.

    Thanks for bearing with my ramblings here. Just so much on my mind and sometimes I don't think I see him as clearly as I should.
  2. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Hi gcv,
    glad you survived!
    Did you sit in the front row at the killer whale show so you could get splashed?

    been there done that, especially with-the lines.
    I had difficult child in a very long line once, waiting for tickets at Busch Gardens. My dad was in town. When we were kids, his nickname was The Colonel. He's got Alzheimer's now, but some things never fade from memory, like how to be A Colonel (he never really was one but he could have been!). He shouted at difficult child to behave, grabbed him by the arm and nearly twisted it off at the shoulder, and difficult child behaved after that. (At least, he didn't sit on the dividing lines between the rows and he quit hanging on me.)
    Didn't make for a bonding relationship but it was a relief for me, because I was trying to keep it together just like you and your husband did. :)

    I'm interested in your son's stimulus seeking behviors because they sound so similar to my son's. Your son has a lot more DXs than mine, but is it something neurological?

    At any rate, I hope you've had a chance to cool off from the heat and recover from the stressful day.
  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Terry, I don't really know for sure what to blame the stimulus-seeking stuff on! Is it ADHD? Is it hypomania? Does anyone really know, and does it really matter what we call it as long as we can know which neurotransmitter(s) is involved and how best to deal with it?

    I feel like he's my mystery kid. Doesn't fit squarely into any one category, so it's like throwing darts in the dark sometimes.

    We've tried the "Colonel" approach with difficult child 2 and it only helps him toe the line for about 5 minutes, regardless of who does the arm jerking ;) My dad just scratches his head in overwelmed amazement that difficult child 2 is so NOT able to be controlled the way he controlled me and my brother as kids. That really perplexes him -- makes me laugh!
  4. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member


    I guess it's sort of a chicken-and-egg question. But I'm wondering if more or less stimulation is a good idea for my difficult child. For ex., rides at a park may be great while he's hyped up, but then he comes down and he's really angry. Or, sated. Could make a difference depending upon what he has.
    There's another post here from Crazymama that asks if too much stimulant can cause cycling, so lots of us are wondering which way to go ... more or less?

  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Sea World sounds like fun. Some day I hope to get to one.

    I know how frustrating it is to have a nice vacation planned only to have our difficult child not really able to enjoy it but to add stress to everything. Then when difficult child and easy child start at each other I feel like screaming, "Will you two just shut your mouths and act civil?" Why can they not just enjoy? Especially when it is for them?

    I am starting to see that many activities that we believe are for kids actually create stress for difficult child. My difficult child has anxiety - he doesn't know why he feels anxious, he just does which ruins many trips for us - even those he looks forward to.

    Standing in line for so long is the worse. It causes boredom which sets off the anxiety for my guy. If you do have someone that can take him out of the line and keep him busy until it is almost your turn, that would be best. If you take him out of the line after he has disturbed someone, those around will be more understanding of why you are getting in line at the last minute while they had to wait. They should feel grateful that you did sol (and if they complain offer them the opportunity to stand in line with him on the next ride. Or just follow them to the next ride and stand in line long enough for him to bother them making a comment, people will get angry if I don't make him stand in line for the ride. I hope he isn't bothering you too much.) However, if you don't have another person to help with this, maybe the ride will have to wait until another visit. Which might be a sacrifice for you if it was one you really wanted to go on. You need to decide if it is worth it or not.

    I have a tendency to "jam fun" down my kids' throat. "But you will like this. This is for you!" I am learning to stop forcing the things I know they would like and slowing down the pace to read their cues. If the weekend is truly for difficult child, we let him choose the activity.

    I think the late lunch also contributed. My difficult child can not handle late lunches. He has to eat something, even if it is a hot dog or bowl of mac & cheese. We did this on Sunday - we knew we would have a late lunch so we bought a small meal for difficult child at 11:30.

    I stay away from junk foods as much as possible which is extremely difficult in places like Sea World with fast food vendors and vending machines. Everything is so expensive but fruit is a better long range snack than chips or even cookies. I think even an ice cream cone may be healthier than a candy bar? I do my best to choose the healthiest of whatever is available.

    Weather also contributes. difficult child gets dehydrated easily and the sun bothers him so beveridges (water/gaterade) and shade helps. Kids need breaks.

    We just came home from an extremely busy vacation. However, for the most part, we did everything at difficult child's pace. With no other kids with, it is so much easier to do. I sacrifice a lot of what I want to do. If there is something I really can't stand missing, then difficult child goes off with sister in law, brother in law, or husband and we meet up at a certain time and place.

    I am glad you survived.
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    That's a really interesting point! I'm not sure I know the answer with difficult child 2.

    I know with difficult child 1 I can read the signs when he's had enough stimulation --he gets irritable when he's had too much and wants to go someplace quiet and just withdraw. Noise and crowds can really overwhelm him, even when he's medicated. I suppose he's more like me!

    difficult child 2, on the other hand, is more inclined to become agitated and hyperactive. Food is a factor, too. The late lunch probably didn't help. If he gets a chance to move or run around, he can sometimes settle down. It's like the large muscle groups help him discharge some of the internal chaos. His dad's the same way :)

    I'm going to have to think on this some more!
  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Yes, we are guilty of this many times! I need to get smarter about some of these points as well, and learn to let go when things get bumpy instead of trying to ride it out because that can sometimes make things worse.
  8. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    I actually think I like Seaworld more then some of the Disney parks, glad you went, it is hard Occupational Therapist (OT) go when you know what stressors may occur, but we need to push ourselves and just do it :O)
  9. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    husband and I were discussing that yesterday... the fact that you are stuck in a line all day (unless you choose to go on one of the rides -- and there are really only two that the kids were interested in), you're able to move around when you need to, and you can choose when to see a show or when to go inside out of the sun to see an exhibit.

    We live near Disneyland, and I REFUSE to go during the summer months. It is absolute TORTURE even for me at that time!

    One year we bought passes for the kids and myself, and it was fantastic. I could take the kids after school on a Friday or on one of their minimum days and we could zip in for just a couple of rides and not feel like we HAD to STAY to get our money's worth -- we knew we could come back whenever and enjoy whatever we felt like for that day. It was well worth the money. This year is a bit tighter, though :( Maybe next year...
  10. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I was curious about the possible connection between your Seaworld and ours in Australia, on the Gold Coast. From the photos etc I saw on various websites, they do look very similar. Different logo, though.

    I remember when we've been there (to Seaworld, Gold Coast) there were long queues and it was a problem. However, we found there were a lot of things we could watch without having to queue up for very long. We balanced our day out, chose the things with the shorter lines and often fed the kids with whatever snacks we had while waiting in the queues. We found that towards closing time the queues got so short as to be almost non-existent for even the most popular rides.

    On the Gold Coast there are a number of theme parks. It is interesting to see how the different parks handle the problem of long queues.

    There used to be a rule that we couldn't take any food in with us - I don't think that rule exists any more. I always found ways to bend the rules (or break them outright) since the idea behind those rules is to make you buy THEIR food. But they never had food I was prepared to eat, so I would always pack food of a very different sort and make it clear that we were on a special diet (ie healthy) which required no artificial additives, no preservatives, no added fat or sugar. I'd pack fresh fruit and home-made sandwiches. And they have to allow plastic water bottles!

    That way we always have food for the kids which kept them quiet and better-behaved.

  11. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I'm not sure if the two Seaworld's are affiliated. There's another one in Florida, too. The one near us only has a couple of rides, but the lines for them are usually quite long.

    They do allow you to bring in your own food and bottled water. They only thing they prohibit are glass bottles or anything with a drinking straw as they pose such a hazard for the animals.

    When the kids were toddlers, I HAD to pack snacks. They couldn't survive without them. But now that they're older, something in me keeps thinking I don't have to do that any more. Clearly, I'm wrong about that!