Have Fries, Will Travel

Yes, more travel stories!

Not nearly as entertaining as the last time, but, I did determine one thing as an absolute: despite the decreased frequency of his actual "french fries" requests, a couple of things are very clear - a good deal of the other requests he makes, are actually fries requests in disguise, and as much as I think I've dampened the obsession a bit, I haven't. It's still as strong as ever. The fact that I have been able to wean his intake somewhat, apparently does not mean that he doesn't want them as much as he always did.

Either that, or he simply associates travel with getting a lot of fries and so this is just what he expects to happen when we're not at home.

Maybe both.

He was fantastic on the trip up. Had his i-Pad, was happy to be in the car that was moving without stopping. I didn't tell him where we were going - just put him in the car and told him we were going on a trip, I didn't want him anxious if traffic was bad or there was a wait at the border. Once we were in Canada, there is a tunnel that we go through on the way in to town. He recognized where we were when we got to it and was SO happy and excited, he was smiling, bouncing and giggling the rest of the way to my mom's. It was very cute :)

He was having a great time at my mom's place. She has an exercise ball that she uses, and he spent most of his time bouncing around on it. That and christening her carpet/beds with his Green Apple Splash shampoo... sigh, at least I have enough neurons working in sync to have chosen this new shampoo because it is COLORLESS. Sudsy, but at least it doesn't stain, sorry mom! Eh, her place smelled good anyway.

Grandma's has lots of cool things. Like her jar full of cotton balls, the entirety of which I discovered in his sock one afternoon. Not the jar. Just 150 cotton balls. In his sock. Grandma clearly doesn't understand how to put them to their best use.

We spent the better part of one day at a park that Toadie loves. Swings AND sand all in one spot, what more could you ask for?!?  




Toad in flight.






He was funny on the beach. He just sat himself down but kept inching closer and closer to the water. He stopped when I sat next to him.      











 On this day, fries took a back-seat to swinging and sand. In Toad's world, sensory bliss trumps food obsession pretty much every time.

The next day we went to the aquarium. The Vancouver Aquarium is wonderful and the boys haven't been there in a long time. So off we went. However, the other thing that apparently now trumps most everything else is, Grandma. She went to get us our parking ticket and Toad pretty much lost it. And unfortunately did not recover well. Add to that the line we had to stand in to get in, and he was not a happy boy. We were in Smackdown mode the whole time waiting to get our tickets. Which is never pleasant. They want every one to stand in front of a green-screen and get their picture taken when you enter, so that they can try to sell it to you when you leave. I pretty much told them to jam-it. We finally got our admission tickets and made our way in. But even faced with enormous tanks of swimming creatures, which he usually likes putting his hands and face up against, he was not snapping out of the "Grandma just went somewhere without us and we had to stand in line" funk. I finally decided to see if getting him some fries would settle him down - so we grabbed some lunch at the bistro next to the Beluga pool. This, apparently, was all he needed. Got his fries on, he was a happy camper.

After that, he was more than happy to visit with the whales...


who seemed quite happy to visit with us.





Hello, Tiqa, you are a sweet baby :)
















She seemed to like Zach and Toadie.








 The day we went to visit with my dad on Vancouver Island, we had to take the ferry, or, boat, as Toad calls them. He asks to "go on a boat" all the time. I know this is because he knows that last time we did that, we ended up somewhere he could walk for miles in his bare feet on sand. This is something he would like to do constantly. So I wasn't sure if the simple novelty of riding the ferry (1hr and 40 minute trip each way) would be enough to keep him amused.

Heading over we were on a 10:30am ferry. Toadie was wonderful in the car while we sat in the line waiting to board and we were probably sitting for about 45 minutes. This surprised me, but hey, I'll take it! The ferry arrives, we get on, and head up to the passenger decks. At the top of the stairs, we end up right in one of the cafeterias. I thought, hey great we'll grab something to eat which will help keep everyone occupied for a good part of the ride. Then my blood literally ran cold. Toad knew this was where we get food. However, at 10:30 am, they only serve breakfast food. No fries. Ummm... ok, so, hoping to work around this we get in line and I see there are GIANT chocolate chip cookies in with all the bagels. Toadie likes cookies. So I asked if he wanted one and he said "yes" which seemed like a good sign - he is very definitive if he is not interested. So I grabbed a couple of these cookies, and hot chocolates for me and Zach. We found a small table and sat down. Toad did make a thorough mess of the first cookie. He takes the chocolate chips out to eat them. It's what he does. So I thought, awesome, we're good.

Not so much. After the first cookie was thoroughly picked apart, he didn't want the other one. And I could see him scanning the cafeteria with a not-so-happy look on his face. It was a look that said, "yeah, this is a food place, but you haven't given me any fries, and I don't see any fries on anyone else's trays, and this is no longer ok". He started to get upset. He even went to try to pinch a lady seated near us. He didn't get her, but he was close. I grabbed him and decided it was time to cut our losses fast and get him out of there. Since I was trying to keep Toad from attacking me and anyone else within reach, I had Zach managing our tray. I told him to get rid of the garbage and put the tray away. Well, my dear Zach hasn't had a great deal of cafeteria experience in his life. So he really wasn't sure what he was supposed to do exactly. Meanwhile, Toad was going ballistic and I just wanted to get him outside. I was trying to explain to Zach what to do and where to do it, but he wasn't getting it. So I hauled Toad back over to where Zach was standing with the tray. Toadie promptly hit one of the hot chocolate cups off the tray, sending its contents all over me. Cool. Because I was, after all, wearing my cream-colored coat. So that was perfect. All down my right side. I snapped at Zach to just throw the stuff away already, and being stressed himself, my child dumped the entire tray in to the garbage. Yes, the tray itself. Which in my heightened state of anxiety made me think "serves them right for not having fries".

Which I am aware is silly. I am also well aware of the questionable wisdom of owning a cream-colored winter coat in the first place. But it's really cute. So shut-up.

So me in my hot chocolate covered coat, Toad in his angry pinching frenzy, and poor Zach who is attached to this whole circus, head outside to a bench on the deck of the ferry.

I thought (hoped... ) that the wind and just being outside would snap him out of it quickly. It didn't. So we struggled for about 30 minutes or so. Eventually, he decided he was done, and settled down with his i-Pad. Which is pretty much what happens. He just gets to a point where he decides to cool it, and he does.

It was chilly so we went back inside and he was great for the remainder of the ride.

But I didn't want him upset at my dad's, given how sick my father has been, so after we got off the ferry, I stopped and got the boys' lunch which included fries for the Toad. He was happy. And he was fantastic at my dad's. So that worked well.

Wish we could have had more time there, but, between his Dr's appts and being so fragile right now, it was all he could manage. So after our day we headed back to my mom's - one more ferry ride. But Toadie was cool. Why? One guess. Anyone? Bueller? It was late in the day. So the cafeteria place was now willing to hand over the fries. Unlike their mean, morning, NO FRIES FOR YOU! counter-parts.

This was Toad on the way back...   









Yes, that's the i-Pad. He doesn't really go anywhere without it at this point.






We had a wonderful time with my brother and his little dudes as well. Spent our last day with them. Zach loves being the cool older cousin ...   





he's in there somewhere, having just been dog-piled by the little guys.






 When it came time for us to make the trek back home, Toadie was having none of it. Well, let me qualify that - he would have been fine if my mom was coming with us. I told you, Grandma is a Big Deal in Toad's world and he would not get in the car unless she was there. She was helping bring our things out to the car and when she went back up to her place to get another bag, he lost his mind and started going after her. Hmmmm. Well, this was going to be a challenge. So I had her stay put next to his side of the car so I could get him in, removed all dangerous objects (his blocks, cars, books) from him except the i-Pad, and belted him in. We said our good-byes, she gave him a kiss, and we started off. He was NOT a happy Toad. He kept yelling "Grandma!" and it broke my heart. This is just another example of how you can't judge by what you see. He doesn't interact with her a great deal when she is visiting or we go there, but, he clearly has an emotional attachment to her, evidenced by his extreme distress when she leaves or we do.

He settled a bit once we were well on our way, though every now and then he'd still ask for my mom.

Traffic was terrible trying to get out of the city and we ended up having a long wait at the border. Sitting in a car that's not really moving is one of Toad's least favorite things in the world (hence my surprise at his pleasantness in the ferry line-up... ). So by the time we were getting close to our turn with Mr Border Patrol Man, he was in full blown angry-Toad mode, hitting the window and his i-Pad, yelling for my mom AND fries. Yay. Somehow I suspect it will be hard to explain to the border dudes why I have a child who is smashing my car window and yelling for his Grandma. They always make me roll down the back window too so they can see in - I was a bit nervous that Toad would throw something at the guy.

But Toad managed to keep mostly quiet during my convo with Mr Personality (our exchange, after handing him our passports: "Roll down the back window please"  I do. "Are you bringing anything back with you?"  I tell him only what I brought up with me in the first place. "How often do you come up?" I tell him once or twice a year.  "Bye" ) and waited until we were moving again to start yelling some more.

Couldn't do anything for him about Grandma, but once again, we could stop and get fries. It was dinner time anyway and we all needed to eat. So, first place I could, I stopped and Josh got his fries on... again. Kept him happy the rest of the trip, though he did ask for my mom a couple more times and has continued to ask for her today.

It's a bit of a puzzle, really. A little chicken vs egg. Is he needing the fries so much when we're away because that's what he expects when we travel, or, are they simply a calming intervention when he's upset about something else, off-routine, anxious, etc. ? As I said initially, I think it's a combination of both. If there were some way to let him have all of the sensory experiences he wants whenever he wants them, I suspect his need for the fries wouldn't be nearly as strong as it is. I don't think it would go away completely, but I do think it would diminish.