About 60 times over two days, Ethan asked to visit Northlandz – again. I obliged by packing up all The Boyz and heading there. We were greeted by the creator and builder, Mr. Zaccagnino, and it’s always nice to see him. We paid our admission and were well immersed in miniature train world – like a magical alternate universe – when Ethan started giving me a hard time about eating lunch. I figured we’d do much better if we took a little break and had a couple of slices of pizza before resuming our travels – and there is a sweet, little snack bar. But it didn’t work that way.
Ethan proclaimed he was done. When Ethan says he’s done, it is a lot like the universe saying ‘….and so it is written’. There are very few times when he can be redirected. Nearly never. I asked if they had happened to have a wheelchair on the premises, and Mr. Zaccignino quickly retrieved one for me. Occasionally, Ethan is genuinely fatigued from walking.
I cheerfully offered him a ride.
I cajoled, encouraged and bribed.
I Facetimed Dennis.
His tantrum was epic. Loud, physical and drama-filled. I feel very bad for him when he is in this state – I believe that he is ‘stuck’ and that it is completely beyond his control. I know brain chemicals are involved and this is a direct result of the nature of his disabilities. It was hard on him and the rest of us.
I am past being embarrassed. My dilemma was that I had 3 other boys who were genuinely enjoying the tour and I was sure to be faced with resistance from them as well and a tantrum from my semi-feral 5 year-old. Ah, between a rock and a hard place. I was trapped.
I have been in MANY difficult situations with Ethan and on VERY FEW occasions has anyone offered to help me. If someone had asked me in that moment what they could do to help, I would not have known how to answer anyway. Just then, I felt a hand on my hand. It was Mr. Zaccagnino. He gently patted my hand in the way that only men of his generation can. He didn’t ask me what he could do. He presented his plan.
“Here are two passes so that you can bring him back”, he said, handing me courtesy tickets. He also let me know that he would escort Gavin, Mikey & Sean back to the 50% mark, exactly where we left off, so that they could walk through the rest of the tour. He assured me that Gavin was old enough to escort his brothers through. Ethan sat in the car and cried for some time. It is always sad for me to see him in this state. For a moment, I thought that I might cry too, but decided against it.
The boys finished their tour and happily exited.
Mr. Zaccagnino is not only and interesting and talented artist who has chosen to share his exquisite hobby with the world, but a compassionate and wise man who bailed us out of a precarious situation this week.
Crisis managed. Disaster averted. Thank you to our field trip hero.
Now go visit Northlandz – just don’t invite us to come along