We decide to go on a ferry ride
Last summer, we went on a car ferry ride and Max loved it. For weeks after, he asked whether we could once again drive our car onto a boat. Repeating activities that Max enjoyed are more of a sure thing in our life; when we try new stuff, there's always a chance he will get freaked out by crowds or noise or something. Sure enough, Max gets giddy when we pull into the ferry cue and squeals when he sees the ship pulling in. On the boat, he sits down long enough to enjoy some chocolate ice-cream, then does laps around the deck with Dave as Sabrina and I hang out in the lounge.
It's a good ride except toward the end, when the ferry is about to dock. Max and Dave are nowhere to be found and Sabrina and I are standing in a sea of cars, a little freaked. Finally Dave and Max show up. Turns out that Max and Dave had been hanging out on a bus. The driver had invited Max on, and Dave didn't realize it was time to go.
We go to a crafts fair
There's a little festival going on in the town where the ferry lets us off. We hit a crafts fair, but within five minutes Max books out of there. Dave goes with him; Sabrina and I finish walking around and meet up with them.
We head over to the waterfront, and come upon a woman singing kids' songs standing next to a giant tadpole. It's not totally clear on why someone is dressed up as a humongous tadpole, but it's nice music and free. Sabrina settles down to listen. Max is cracking up at the tadpole and listening, and I am psyched. Five minutes later, he's done. I follow him out of the area and we go and explore a boat docked nearby as Dave stays with Sabrina. "I used to be a special ed teacher," some guy on the boat says to me. Very often when we're out, special ed teachers say hi to us.
We eat in the car
I'd like to go to a restaurant for lunch, but the day's been good so far and we are not up for the potential drama; Max is wary of restaurants he's never been to. We hit a drive-thru and down salads and burgers.
We visit an outlet center
Shopping is definitely not the kids' idea of a good time, and when they're with me, it usually isn't mine, either. But the siren call of the Crocs store is strong. Sabrina gets navy blue ones. I show Max some purple Crocs; I've previously vetoed them but now I decide that, heck, if Max wants them, he gets them. Inexplicably, he falls in love with a men's size 12 pair of white canvas shoes.
He wants to color them purple. The child size won't do, because there is so much less shoe to color on. He clomps around the store in them. People are amused. I am, too, until I lift him out of them and Max has a fit, which includes plopping himself down on the floor and crawling around it in protest. We haul him out of there screeching.
We go on kiddie rides
There's no choice but to conquer and divide, which is often where we end up. Dave and Sabrina head off to explore a few stores; I plop Max into a car ride and sit down a nearby bench. He's perfectly content. The afternoon sun feels nice on my face; I am tense from the Crocs store scene.
We go to a restaurant for dinner
We venture into an Italian place at around 4:30, before the crowds descend; Max looks dubious. The dining room is empty, but Max books through it and out the other side, to an area where people can pick up pizzas. It's chilly in there and not very nice-looking, but we settle in. I whip out Max's iPad from my bag and find some Cars videos, the Max equivalent of a sedative. It works, though it doesn't always. Max has spaghetti (shocker), Sabrina has mac and cheese, Dave and I devour an antipasto and a really good chicken and artichokes dish. We breathe a sigh of relief; dinner success!
We head home
Max plays video games for most of the ride back, and downs two chocolate milkshakes. Sabrina has a vanilla one, and we color. When we all get back in the car at the end of the ride, Max says, "Nooooooo!" He'd like to sleep on the boat, and could he? We cruise off it to the sound of him saying "Nooooooo!" I tell him, "We'll go back on the boat soon, honey. We'll go back." And he calms down.
As much as we try not to center our lives around Max's needs, often, there's no getting around them. So we reconsider and let go and divide up and compromise and give in, on occasion. And that's just the way it is—for now, anyway.