Monday, February 7, 2011

the hermit tendencies of my son

Saturday morning, I awoke to a veritable winter wonderland. There was snow everywhere and it just kept coming.

My first thought? If school is canceled on Monday, I'm officially moving to Florida.

Last week alone, we had 4 snow days; I think we have now missed about 10 or 11 days of school. I lost track once we hit the double digits. It was fun at first, but now I'm worried by the time school starts up again, Danny will have forgotten how to read.

My next thought: Excellent. Come hell or high water I am getting my butt and the butts of my kids OUT of this house today. Whether they like it or not, we are going to engage in some lively frolicking in the snow.

Danny fought us tooth and nail, as I knew he would. Though he has not left the house in 4 days, and in that same amount of time, has worn nothing but pajamas, the kid still resisted the idea of
leaving these four walls for adventure in the great outdoors. He claimed it would make him cold to go outside.

I don't know where I got this kid. Really.

Though I could see his point, I was bound and determined to win this battle. Last Saturday, I forced Danny to leave the house with very dubious results. My goal was to cheer him up, get him some exercise and some deep pressure--the kind of work that calms him down and makes him infinitely more pleasant to be around.

Well, it didn't go well. While Charlotte and Tommy romped in the snow with Bil, Danny sat on the porch and cried while desperately trying to open the locked door to escape the bracing winter air.

This week, I was determined to have a better experience.

So, of course, I had to resort to bribing the boy. I told him if he came with us sledding and was cooperative he'd get more time on, which is his latest obsession of choice.

Danny wouldn't bite. He just got annoyed.

Then, I said he could not only play on, but he could watch a video as well.

Still, no dice.

This kid was tough. He was nowhere near breaking, but I wouldn't give up. I had to get him outside, if even for a mere 45 minutes. I just knew a little bit of exercise was going to be the difference between a miserable day listening to a crabby, short-fused boy whine and one much more pleasant.

I finally had the brilliant idea to call my friend and offer to take two of her sons with us. I knew once Danny heard that S and C were coming, he might change his mind.

And it worked!

We bundled up all the kids, loaded up on water and crackers and sleds and set out on our journey. When we got to the great sledding hill not too far from our house, all the kids were actually excited. Even Danny.

Unfortunately, I seem to have given birth to a bunch of wimpy kids. Charlotte went down the hill once and proclaimed that she was done. No more sledding for her, thank you very much. And Danny just got frustrated because his sled kept getting stuck in the fluffy snow. I tried to show him that if he took the metal saucer down a few times it would pack the snow thereby insuring that subsequent trips down the hill with other sleds would be fast and fun.

But, he just kept complaining.

First it was the sleds not working right, then he complained that his gloves were too wet. After that, he got annoyed because the new gloves I produced from my bag of tricks were too big.

From there, he just got more creative and melodramatic.

"I'm COLD!" he exclaimed, though really it wasn't very cold at all, especially after climbing the hill a couple of times. "I'm freeeeeeezing! I think I have FROSTBITE!"

I chose to ignore him and soldier on, encouraging fun for everyone. At one point, after Charlotte and Danny had complained about the cold for the 84,000th time, I realized I was having more fun with S and C, my friend's kids than with my own.

Finally, Bil bundled Tommy and Charlotte up in the car to help them warm up, while I stayed on the awesome hill with Danny and his friends.

Despite lots of whining from Danny, we all had a lot of fun. The trips down the hill were invigorating and exciting, not to mention sometimes hilarious, like when C slid down the hill, lost his sled and still kept sliding on his stomach.

Finally, despite claims of frostbite over half of his body, Danny decided to make snow angels, which somehow took his mind off the cold. He and C dotted the entire hill with snow angels, after which a snowball fight erupted, with all the boys ganging up on me.

After building a snowman and then jumping on it, the kids were ready to go home. Well, at least Danny was ready to go; I'm pretty sure S and C would've lasted much longer, but it was lunchtime and I promised to buy everyone pizza.

In the end, the sledding trip was fantastically fun, even for Danny.

I knew it would be, but he just wouldn't believe me. I don't know why lately getting Danny to leave the house has gotten to be so difficult.

As a toddler, Danny loved to play outside, even when it was snowy or cold. Over time, though, he has become more and more resistant to being outside. He still enjoys playing at the park. Most of the time. And he rarely turns down an offer to go to the swimming pool, but other activities, he fights me on.

He prefers to stay home in his pjs most days, even sometimes when there is a chance of some serious fun. A couple months ago, I had to practically bribe the kid to go to a Lego party at the library. I couldn't believe it. He is obsessed with Legos, so I knew he would have a blast, yet he was completely resistant. I promised him that after 20 minutes if he wasn't having fun, he could leave.

Instead he ended up having a blast and he talked about that party for days afterwards.

I am so afraid that if I don't somehow intervene, Danny will turn into one of those geeky guys who spends 20 hours a day playing World of Warcraft, only stopping to pee in a bottle he keeps next to his computer so as to avoid any interruptions. I envision him morphing into one of the characters on the Guild: unemployed, no social skills, no relationships with anyone aside from his online "friends".

Which is why I'll be forcing him to attend his first Cub Scout meeting. The hardest part of this plan? Convincing the kid he needs to get out of his pajamas. Though he has been home from school for a mere 15 minutes and it is only 3pm, Danny is decked out in his favorite pajamas.

Here's hoping to this Cub Scout meeting is a resounding success. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.


Sarah said...

Not sure if this is a good thing or bad thing but I get Danny---I mean totally get him. I am not a fan of the snow and secretly glad E&J don't care for it either. But what you did for him was amazing---it was like when I took E bowling a few weeks ago to prep her for an upcoming event. It was a painful process but once she got the hang of it and understood there would be cheering each and every time she knocked down a pin, she loved it.

Congratulations Patty for reaffirming what I already knew---you are an outstanding Mom.

Heather said...

Way to get him out of the house! Eli only avoids going out if there are going to be a lot of other people involved - or shopping! I think he'd stay outside playing all day everyday if I'd let him. Keegan is my pj's kid. If he could stay in jammies all day everyday he absolutely would! Then again, I probably would too :)

Logical Libby said...

I hated getting outside as a kid. Now I am making sure that my kid gets out as much as possible.

Alysia said...

I think our kids were separated at birth. With all our snow days I had to beg, push and plead with the kids to go out. It took my husband dragging them out to go. My middle guy actually said "I'm not going out. It's FREEZING out there" (sound familiar?)
The pj thing is a familiar thing as well. One or two pajama snow days was ok. Then I was forcing them to get dressed because it was depressing me. My 4 yr old flat our refused. Even went to gymnastics AND a playdate in his pjs. He told me they were more comfortable than his clothes. I can't tell if he's just being lazy or if there's some sensory thing w/his pajamas. sigh. always something.
good for you for getting your crew out!!!

Sprite's Keeper said...

Florida always has room for you when you get sick of the cold. :-)

Mrsbear said...

Move to Florida, move to Florida!

I sympathize with Danny, I have to admit. Being a bit of a recluse myself, I've found that with age I really do want to spend more and more time in my PJs if only to enjoy the freedom supplied by an elastic waist.

I've never seen snow, it sounds like fun. Although the abundance you guys are getting is staggering, wow.

Hope Danny enjoys the Scouts.

Ginny Marie said...

I'm glad your sledding trip turned out the way it did! Good for you for getting the job done. :)

Danny reminds me of the roommate I had before I got married. She's an eighth grade teacher, and she had her pajamas on within 5 minutes of walking in the door after work. Ah, the single life!

Diane said...

I wish I had your drive and energy. It's exactly what Danny needs, if he's having trouble providing that for himself. We've had to push/pull/drag our ASD son through way too many experiences in his life, and for me it's completely exhausting, because I'd just as soon be at home in my PJs a lot of the time myself.

What has kept me going is that once we get him out to wherever it is and he gets started, he pretty much always has a good time, and sometimes even a great one. Puberty hasn't helped with the generally not wanting to get out much, but maturity has helped him to see the genuine value in some activities, so there's less resistance to the ones he's chosen and is accustomed to. We've always approached it as "What would you like to participate in ?" rather than "Would you like to do something?" when it comes to being involved in things outside of home and school. It's challenging for all of us, but it's definitely been worth it.

I'll be thinking good thoughts for you about the scouting experience. We've hit some bumps along the way with that, too, but overall for us it's been very worthwhile.

ShesAlwaysWrite said...

I had the same idea 2 weekends ago (difference being I have to drag my husband kicking and screaming out of the house, Bear is more than happy to go). I was totally deluded it was the greatest idea ever - I figured climbing hills was good heavy work and sledding was fun. He went down once and then totally freaked out - he was so overstimmed he actually started tearing his hat/coat/etc off while screaming and generally melting down yet trying to escape us to climb the hill again. Good times.