Sunday, August 12, 2012

Take him outside, they said

Who's they? A whole bunch of they's. Some of the books/magazines I've read. His behavioral therapist. Get him into nature. Help him release the energy. It won't overstimulate him. It'll be good for him. Etc.

Maybe they would like to do the honors next time.

I took him to Canal Day at Waterloo Village yesterday -- it's outside and there are interesting historic buildings to look at, and they were giving short boat rides on the canal. He likes boats. He also likes the song "Erie Canal," and his favorite part about the Crayola Factory was the little upstairs exhibit where you could guide a small boat through a canal, opening and closing the locks. So this seemed promising.

OK, first off, Waterloo is a little depressing these days. It lost funding, and is only open at all due to volunteers, so most of the buildings are closed. (Except, weirdly, the church in the middle of the village, which is still operational. I wonder what it's like to go to services there, in the middle of all those empty houses.) Some buildings were falling apart, and were blocked off with that orange construction fencing. One house had random plants growing through its front porch. I've been to other reconstructed historical sites -- Mystic Village in Connecticut, the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown -- and they're in much better shape, with actual staffs, and fun demonstrations and activities, and buildings in good repair. It's a bit of a sad contrast.

Kiddo did not notice these things. The things he noticed were 1. wide open paths to run on! and 2. a boat to ride on! So we hustled down to the dock. Luckily (or less so), we had the ride to ourselves.

The very nice gentleman who was giving the history talks during the boat ride was, at first, charmed by kiddo's gleeful enthusiasm. He used to teach college courses, said the gentleman, and kiddo was his favorite kind of student to have in class -- the kind who didn't realize how smart they were. Then, however, followed an absolute textbook example of the troubles kiddo is clearly going to have in class this year, as Teach got progressively more and more annoyed by his constant chattering: "Are those lilypads? Are we going to run over the lilypads? Can you steer the boat that way? Are there sharks in the water? What else is there? The boat's going really fast! I'm going to look over the back of the boat. Why are we turning around? Can we keep going? Is there a turtle? Where is the turtle? I don't see the turtle. Oh, there's the turtle!" And on and on and on and paying no attention whatsoever to Teach's history spiel, which, to be fair, was going to make no sense to a 5-year-old anyway.

Teach went from charmed to irked in about a minute. Comments included: "There are girls who don't talk as much as he does." and "Boy, his teacher's got her work cut out for her!" and "I hope his teacher gets some sleep!" and "Can you be quiet now while I talk to your mom?" Finally the other volunteer on the boat got up and tried to guide kiddo away so Teach could finish teaching in peace. I'd been laughing the whole thing off, politely, but geez, take a hint, Teach. Play to your crowd. Sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" for him or something. But noooooo, he had a spiel about the Morris Canal and damned if he wasn't going to recite it to someone. Even if he had to repeatedly insult that someone's small child to do it.

I'm guessing Teach doesn't have grandkids.

I figured things could only go up from there, so we headed down the path to the gristmill, which still works, and was one of two buildings actually open that day, unless you also count the restrooms. So, uh, three. Kiddo loved the gristmill. They cranked it up and the giant wheels spun in the water and the cogs turned, and you can see where the flour would've come out. And you can repeatedly run up and down the stairs from the upper level to the lower level so you can see all the different parts of it. And then run up and down the stairs again. And then run outside so you can see the exterior of the mill and where it meets the water and then run back inside and down the stairs and up again and down again and up again and back outside and back inside ad nauseam. He finally ran away from me one too many times and I hauled him back down the path to the car. While he complained repeatedly about being hot and his legs being tired. I showed great restraint in not saying, "Well, duh."

So there you have it. We were outside. Also inside. But mostly outside. And it didn't calm him down. It revved him up. Unless the only real solution is to take him outside where there are no buildings whatsoever and the only exciting thing to look at is trees.

I think there's an arboretum around here somewhere.

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