Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm

Today I left the twins with a sitter so I could go on a field trip with Ben. Originally I booked it because I wasn’t sure if he’d have an aide and there was no way another chaperone could handle him. But his new aide started yesterday (more on her later) so it ended up Ben had 2 people covering him full time.

It was my first time interacting with Ben’s class and it was very different from Jack’s. When I attended Jack’s field trips it was with complete joy and enthusiasm. This time around there was still joy and enthusiasm, but it was mixed with trepidation. You just can not go 6 hours with Ben without having an episode, even when you are doing something great like a trip to a pumpkin farm.

We did lots of fun things like a hay ride and a corn maze.

Hay ride on actual real hay stacks!

Hay ride on real hay stacks!

I thought it was funny how a bunch of city kids reacted to the farm. They were all deathly afraid of the bees and they thought sitting on the dirty hay bales was gross.

There were a couple of more provincial things that were enjoyable because we were on a pumpkin farm but would be absolutely intolerable in the city, like the dragon and giant show. It was a spin off of Jack and the Beanstalk. The lesson was that the giant was lazy and needed to work harder if he wanted to eat well.

Animatronic show

Animatronic show

Later one of the owners and farmer gave a lecture about the farm, pollination and basically told us that the health of his crop was due to God. The last time Ben was introduced to God was when my father asked him if he knew who God was and Ben answered, “You mean Godzilla?”

Luckily this did not turn into another esoteric Ben conversation (I’m finding it hard enough to answer the questions he has about infinity and death!). At that moment Ben was busy playing with his group sticker that was suppose to be on his back instead of listening.

DSC_0732As for breakdowns Ben only had a few. One in particular was when it was time to ride the train. For some reason he got scared. He wanted to watch first then ride. That was the same language he used at Great America and never rode a ride the entire trip. It was a train very similiar to the one he rode this past weekend at the zoo.

I used the opportunity to point out to his new aide that he was suffering from anxiety. I then tried to show her how to handle him. I asked what he was afraid of. He said the water (there was a small man made pond in track). I asked him to come over to the rail so we could look at it together. I pointed out that the water did not touch the train. I also told him that he could watch, but there may only be one train ride and if so he would miss his opportunity. The aide watched patiently. Finally she turned to Ben and said, “Do you want me to ride with you?”

His eyes lit up and he said, “Yes!”

He grabbed her hand and pulled her onto the train.DSC_0706

Sadly I realized as I was trying to teach the aide a lesson, she had just taught me a more valuable one.


Goat Feeding

Sometimes when you are in a relationship with someone you get to a point where there is a lot of ‘water under the bridge’. It’s hard to give of yourself completely, so willingly, so fully when you feel they have taken so much already. Ben’s new aide has no such resentments yet. I hope it stays that way. Because Ben is just a kid, and he’s growing. And one day this is all going to be a distant memory. A shadow of who he sees himself as in the future. And I need to keep that in mind and live through these days with as much patience and grace as she showed me today.

She also managed to get him back to the group after he ran away. I’m not sure how she did that either. Usually when I try to get Ben to do something he doesn’t want it ends in my carrying him away while he claws and scratches at my face.

I’m very happy today, because I now have a lot of hope that things are going to be even better for him at school. Because of his new aide he will start going to the regular classroom a lot more and hopefully he will get more of the social interaction he desperately needs to learn.

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