It’s been a difficult summer with Jackson. His boredom and not getting what he wants manifests into fit after fit after fit. Just when it seemed I was about to lose it, I got a reprieve in the form of a road trip. The idea of 8 days in the car with a 4 year old may not seem wonderful to most people, but to us it was heaven.
My Grandma turned 90 last week and the party to celebrate her major milestone was in her hometown of Wheatland, Wyoming. We decided we would drive there and make a vacation of it. Lucky for us Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons just happened to be on the driving route. The days leading up to our departure were filled with Jackson screaming and tantrums. For a brief period I thought maybe something was wrong with him medically. But I ruled that out based on the fact that he would change his behavior when he was getting something he wanted. A few times I just put him in the car and drove around, which quickly stopped his fits and put him in a good mood. I think in his mind he thought he was going somewhere, doing something, and that made him happy. I had a feeling that our trip to Grandma’s house would make him happy, but I had no clue how happy.
The first day of our trip was about an 8 hour drive to Gardiner, Montana. I was hopeful Jackson would do well for 4 hours. Surprisingly the kid was joyful, making happy noises, laughing and entertaining himself for the whole drive! We stopped every 2.5 hours or so to let him roll around and eat and have a break from the car seat. By the time we got to Gardiner he was as happy as he was when we left that morning. He even tolerated us putting him back in the car after setting up camp and eating dinner so we could spend some of the evening in Yellowstone. It was amazing! Kevin and I thought for sure our luck would run out the next day. Nope. It was a long day in Yellowstone, in and out of the car to see the sights, and it was ridiculously hot. But Jackson was a trooper, he continued on with his happiness. Third day on the road, same thing. Arrived at Grandma’s where we spent 2 days, happy as could be. Headed to the Tetons, happy, happy, happy. Went into Jackson Hole, Wyoming (6th day on the road) and a massive meltdown ensued. For some reason it was shocking to us. What was wrong with our angelic boy? We soon figured it out. We were walking by restaurant after restaurant and not stopping! Jackson thought we were coming to this tourist trap to eat! We found him some food and he resumed his happiness. He only had one other meltdown and that was at Old Faithful. I think this meltdown was due to being over tired. After a nap he was fine again. 8 full days on the road, 2 mini meltdowns, amazing! The kids apparently just needs to be going all the time. He doesn’t want to lie around the house relaxing the summer away. He wants to hit the open road, listen to great music, and see the sights. I love that about him, but since we can’t afford anymore weeklong road trips this summer we may be in trouble. I think though that our summer plans from here on out will be some weekend camping trips or day trips to various spots here in the Pacific Northwest. If that will make Jackson happy and give us a break from the screaming fits then that is what we will do. As Iris Murdoch once said “One of the secrets of a happy life is continuous small treats.” Jackson’s small treats are road trips. My small treat is a non-fit throwing child. Open roads are our salvation.
The reprieve was wonderful. We weren’t home 15 hours before the fits resumed. Oh how I wish to be on the road again. For now I will just have to try and keep my sanity, what’s left of it anyway.
P.S. If you are a parent of a child with a permanent disability you can get a free lifetime pass into all the National Parks. It is called an Access Pass. You can also get discounted camping fees. One night our camping would have been $25 but was only $10.25 with the Access Pass. Go to any National Park website for details.