Tonight we took the kids to the Turtle Back Zoo Holiday Lights Spectacular and had such a great time! We've been to the zoo before but never for the light display and were happily surprised to find out that the "cost" of admission was a donation to the local food bank. We told the kids we were going for a Christmas surprise but when we started to tell them we were going to look at special Christmas lights, Kailey burst into tears because she thought the surprise was going to be the playground (I'm still not sure why that was so stuck in her head).
Most of the zoo was open with a great display of lights throughout. The two best exhibits we saw tonight were the penguins and the sea lions because both of them had one animal that was "playing" with the people who were watching. One of the sea lions was fantastic because he kept teasing and playing around with everyone watching. There were other things you could do like sit with Santa and take a train ride but we kept it pretty simple, especially since it was already dinner time when we got there. They also had the barn open to check out some of the animals like the sheep, chickens and ponies.
There are two things that are pretty challenging lately for events like this: Cody's forceful independence and Colin's difficulty with the unknown.
The above two pictures are an example. Colin is really nervous and uncomfortable with mascot type figures or things that are big and intimidating. He is also just nervous and gets upset when he doesn't know what to expect or transitions in general. This is what we call a "life challenge" for him because it's something that affects him across the board between home, school, and activities, and probably will for a long time. In this example, we asked the kids to take a picture with the nutcracker but because it was so big, Colin started getting upset and yelling because he didn't want to. We are always sensitive to this and told him he didn't have to, but when he saw Kailey take a picture, he observed and realized it would be ok and then joined in for a picture.
The above two pictures are examples of times when no matter how much he observes, it's never ok for him to join in. We've been trying to use the strategy of just taking a deep breath because he gets really worked up and upset if he worries that someone is in "danger". Before Kailey went over to the bear he kept yelling, "no Kailey! No bear!" He also yelled and tried to run from the snowman and reindeer and when she said she wanted to pet the peacock. Sometimes we will try to work through it; we will hold him and "force" (I say that loosely) him to give high fives and then cheer when he does, but it's not always worth it to do that. We just have to let him walk away from what is making him nervous.
He was ok with the big polar bear and bear because all we had to do was tell him that it was "just pretend" and bang on it a little so he could hear the hollow sound.
Cody's forceful independence is the other challenge. To put it simply, he absolutely 100% of the time wants to do what the other two are doing. Sometimes it's ok and other times, he's not quite ready but makes his displeasure known very loudly. I'll be honest, I used to be thankful when I saw people dealing with their "difficult" child in public that it wasn't mine but that. is. us. He just wants to do what everyone else is doing which is hard because he still is only 15 months old with short little legs. He is really loud when he is not happy about something we won't let him do.
The tears below are because we *actually* tried to get him to pose in a picture with the other two when we gave him some freedom outside of the stroller.
All in all though we had a great time! #tobinsdotheholidays2015