I arrived this morning prepared. Very prepared. Bigger cups for water. Different costume, so I could readily change and be in Tribe colors. I gave both boys a good squishing before we went in to the chaos of the Sanctuary. Bring it on.
Andy was skittish, but not a mess, and seemed happy to be back with his new friends. Joey was OK, and pleased to be allowed to carry the tribe banner. The games people were better prepared for a younger crowd. The school section still went over the heads of our group. Then we hit the Marketplace.
Yesterday, Joey loved the fishing stand, with the big wheel to spin and pretend to be on the boat. Today, the adult who had been there yesterday was gone, and it was left to a couple of 8th graders, who denied Joey access to the wheel.
The Marketplace is a bit of chaos, and it is in a gymnasium, so the echoes add to the chaotic feel. The tribes break into smaller groups, and some of the adults just let their kids run, while others (like me) try to keep grouped and at least keep tabs with their charges. I had one kid enamoured with the carpentry tent. Joey is enamoured with the fishing tent. So between crafts or while we are waiting for one kid to finish, I let the guys "take a break" by being where they are comfy and interested. Having the fishing area off limits when it wasn't yesterday... well, I think we can all see where this is going.
I made an error. After we made dreidels at the carpentry tent, Joey learned of the fishing area closure, and started to be upset. In an attempt to distract him, I took the boys to the herbalist and perfumer cart, away from the fishing area.
Did you catch the mistake?
Yep. Sensory overload. I added scent to the already near-overload of sound and sight. the other two boys were interested, but Joey was overwhelmed, and already upset by being denied the space he was using to calm himself (spinning that big steering wheel is very calming- the work of the spin plus the visual stim of the spinning object). Meltdown, level 1 commenced. It quickly progressed to level two.
That was the moment the "Daily Drama" began. Today we had a Roman soldier abusing a couple of disciples. It actually wasn't something I thought altogether well-chosen, but whatever, Joey completely missed it anyway. We were busy being squished and rubbed and trying to get him out of meltdown, and I managed to stem the tide while everyone's attention was pulled elsewhere. Once he was back to grips, he was good to go.
We also were in luck- word got around that we needed the fishing area open, and the kids who were stationed there got word, and let him in. So we got that calming in, too. Then we moved on to jewelry (except my carpentry kid- he was happy learning about carpentry tools, and the woodworker was happily teaching him, so I left him alone. He can always go back and make necklaces if he's interested.) The bead stringing forced focus, and he did one side while I did the other, and peace resumed.
The rest of the day was pretty smooth. The other adults discovered what I mean by "Joey wanders", but there was no danger of him escaping from the room (there is an adult soldier posted to make sure kids stay in there and don't wander off), so that was all good, and perhaps a little educational.