I am coming to you live from my closet right now. And yes, I was supposed to have James on this episode with me, but, as we started to record the episode, I got a little bit testy with him and I asked him just to not be on this episode with me.
I am going to go through our Florida trip from my recollections and maybe one day he can share his recollections with you as well.
My sister in law, Jodi and her husband, Jordan, own a home just outside of Orlando and asked us if we would like to join them for Easter break. And of course we said, yes, absolutely. We will go with you. But when they asked us this was before we got the diagnosis of ADHD and ODD. And before all of the, let’s say really crazy stuff started happening with our boys.
So when it came time to really start planning the trip, there was a point where I did ask Dakota if she would like to come with us. Remember Dakota was our unicorn and she could do anything with them. And so I was really hoping that she would say yes, but unfortunately she had other plans at that time.
You know when you’re at the airport and because you have kids, you get priority boarding? I was so excited for this priority boarding. You have no idea. So when we were at the Calgary airport, as soon as they announced that it was time to board for priority, anybody with small children can come up, you can bet our family was first in line!
But something happened with the staff that was checking us in. And so there was a little bit of delay while we were standing there. Well, James was holding Ryder’s hand and I was holding Dylan’s hand. And James let go of Ryder’s hand for a second.
And…..GONE. Ryder took off running and it was a long ways. James had to go chasing him. I don’t even know how far he got James didn’t tell me. I think it was a long ways. Anyhoo. There went our priority boarding that’s for sure. I do believe that we were the last family to get on the plane…from being first in line.
The rest of the flight was actually pretty good if I remember correctly.
I’m going to describe Orlando airport, just so that you get a really good idea of what transpired next. When you land in Orlando, you get off the plane in one terminal (which is gigantic), get on a train that takes you to another terminal, get off that train and walk a VERY long distance and end up down a level to where your luggage and car rental are.
I describe it in this detail so that you understand it’s a very long distance from where we get off the plane to where our luggage was.
With the Calgary airport incident still very fresh in our minds, it was decided that I would hold onto Ryder’s hand very tightly while James held on to Dylan’s hand. We went down to get our luggage. James stood by the luggage carousel with Dylan and Avery and I went with Ryder to get a luggage cart.
If you’ve ever used one of those luggage cart machines, the one where you use your credit card, then you know that to unlock the cart from the track you need both hands to pull the cart out. So I had to let go of Ryder’s hand……and yep……
I’m gonna be real with you right now. This kid is not really a fast runner. If you saw him in real life, you’d think he’s pretty slow. But as soon as he got into that airport, he turned into BEN JOHNSON. Quite literally, he started running at top speed.
I had a bag across my shoulder that I had way too much stuff in, including my wallet, my phone, my passport, you name it. And it wasn’t closed all the way. As I was chasing him up the stairs we just came down, I tripped and fell and all of the contents of my bag flew everywhere….important stuff that I just can’t leave behind.
So not only is my kid running at top speed, I now had to stop and pick up all of my very important personal belongings before I could chase after him.
By the time I caught up with him, no word of a lie, he was almost back at the train that takes you back to the first terminal. I can’t believe I actually found him. It’s a bloody miracle. It’s a good thing I had him dressed in bright clothes because that’s the only way that I could actually see him and know that was him.
By the time we got out of the airport and got our rental vehicle, we were already exhausted. And this was day 1. What are we doing?!? If this is day one, what else is going to happen on the rest of the trip?
On the first full day that we were in Orlando, we decided to go to Crayola Experience, which was very, very cool….but not as cool with children that are known to take off running. Any chance Ryder got, he took it and was off running.
At one point when we did have him securely in our grips, we were able to make our own custom crayons with any of the colors we wanted and any of the names that we wanted. James definitely named Ryder’s quite perfect….
And after that, that was his nickname for the rest of the trip.
Around Day 3 of our trip we decided we needed intervention. When Avery was little, she was known to take off as well. And we actually got one of those children’s backpacks with the leash and it worked really well for her. So we thought let’s go and get a couple of those for the boys. At least then they can just be on a leash. We looked high and low for those backpacks with a leash on them.
I don’t know where they all were during Easter vacation….probably the smart parents went and bought one. Way before we did anyway. We did not find them. So we found these cheap wrist type restraints. And, yeah, no, they didn’t work. The first day that we put them on we were going into Whole Foods…..and just as quickly as we put it on Ryder, he quickly removed it and took off running.
Have you ever been to Disney World during Easter? If you haven’t, please just listen very, very closely to my words right about now. DON’T EVER DO IT.
I mean, never, ever, ever, ever, ever.
Now, looking back, I can understand what was going on with our little Ryder. All three of our kids actually but more so with our little Flight Risk. He was way too overstimulated. It was too many people and he just had a very, very hard time with it.
The first park that we did was Magic Kingdom and yeah, it was good, but it was not what I think any of us expected. It was just way too busy, way too many lines. And not as enjoyable as we thought it was going to be, especially for the boys being their first time. But there was some special moments like the PARADE. That was very cool for them to experience.
Before we left on vacation, I made a reservation to have their lunch with the Disney characters at Animal Kingdom.
On the day of their birthday, we got up bright and early and made our way to the park. That was amazing! Animal Kingdom is one of our favourite parks for sure. We had a blast. And the kids LOVED their lunch with the Disney characters. Those memories are priceless.
Around the 3 o’clock mark I started to get the feeling that things were about to not be good. I was getting a sense from Ryder that he was getting very agitated. And not regulated. He was sooo agitated.
So I said to James, I think it’s time that we start making our way back to the entrance. Let’s start making our way and if we see something along the way and he’s doing ok we can stop. At this point we were right in the middle of Animal Kingdom.
Jodi and Jordan had given the boys money for their birthdays to get something from the park, and they had also given Avery some as well for her birthday. As we were making our way out of the park, Avery reminded us reminded us that she still hadn’t gotten her gift from the gift shop and she made it clear that she really wanted to get something from Animal Kingdom before we left.
James decided to stay outside of the store with Ryder. And I went into the store with Avery and Dylan. About five minutes into being in the store, I could clearly hear things were not going well for James outside with Ryder, not at all. And so I was trying to hurry up Avery and get her to decide on something.
Ryder was losing his mind and having a complete and utter meltdown. James went to put him on his shoulders so that he could at least get him out of the park on his shoulders. And so picture this……Ryder on top of James’s shoulders and Ryder screaming at the top of his lungs and kicking James in the chest and stomach…..literally screaming at the top of his lungs.
And there’s me….running behind him. I’m with Avery and Dylan running behind James yelling…..
And just like that, out of no where comes a whole bunch of Disney security guards. Yes, we think they thought James was abducting Ryder and I was the hysterical Mom trying to stop him. Wouldn’t you think that?
But those security guards are professionals. Once they realized what was going on, all but one disappeared into thin air….they are like MAGIC. I think they know so well how to not scare the kids and POOF….were gone. We were left with one security guard who then gave Ryder a citation.
By the time we got back to the house, we were soooo exhausted and overwhelmed by it all. But then we heard about the unbelievable tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos Bus Crash. And the unbelievable devastation of losing 16 people in this tragedy. As I was sitting there crying thinking about what happened at Animal Kingdom, I was also so incredibly grateful that I still had my child. Some families just lost their very important son or daughter. And I couldn’t imagine not having my child anymore. It was so heartbreaking to think about the loss of all these innocent people.
About halfway through our trip, we decided to go to the mall one evening and try and get haircuts for our boys and my nephew, Luke. Their hair was just growing out of control and it was really, really hot.
So we thought let’s just go to the mall, see if we can get a haircut. All of us went and sure enough, we were able to get in, but I don’t know what kind of hair place this was, but it was one of those where they take a really, really, really long time and give you the most amazing shampoo……where they massage your head and all of that good stuff.
As you can imagine, that doesn’t work so well when you have children with ADHD and who cannot sit still. The first two to get their haircut was Dylan and Luke. And while they were getting their very, very long hair cuts and shampoos, we had to try and entertain Ryder.
I took my turn first, going UP and DOWN the escalator, over and over and over again. Finally I tapped out and James took over. This is where having James on this episode would be beneficial because I wasn’t there for what happened next. All I know is there was blood, it was running down James’ leg and he had a gash on his shin. It looked really painful.
The incident involved the escalator……Ryder going the wrong direction on the escalator…..and James trying to grab him but caught his leg in the moving escalator……OUCH :(. Thank goodness it was at that time that Ryder was able to get his hair cut.
Of course there were many other instances throughout the trip, but our last BIG incident happened on the way home and again in an airport. We had to connect through Toronto Pearson (my least favorite airport). We had an extremely tight layover – something like 40 minutes….crazy. We had to run a very long way to get to where our connection was.
By the time we made it to where we had to connect, Ryder was done and in a complete MELTDOWN. And we still had to go through security. So imagine……James and I trying to get all of our stuff into those bins for us and all the kids, while still grasping onto Ryder’s hand and him losing his ever livin’ mind……it was pure CHAOS.
I put my stuff down in the bins. I took the kids stuff and put it in the bins and we all go through the scanner. James was on the other side with Ryder since they went first. He had gone ahead to start moving our stuff over to a table to start putting our belongings back on (coat, shoes, bags, etc). All while holding Ryder’s hand in a death grip.
I assumed that he grabbed all of our belongings……and we were running out of time. We had 3 minutes to get on the plane and we still needed to get to our gate. So we were running while quite literally DRAGGING Ryder as he was screaming at us. And we made it on the plane….
James was sitting with the boys in the back of the plane while I was sitting with Avery near the front. After we got our seatbelts on I asked Avery to hand me my camera bag so I could put it under the seat in front of me. She said “What camera bag?”……”The one you were supposed to grab”, I said…..because why not make that her responsibility??
Because we were last on the plane we had to turn our phones off right away so I couldn’t even text James to see if he grabbed it. Well he didn’t have it. Now what am I going to do??
So what happened is my camera bag was in one of those bins and my coat was on top of it. James did not realize that was my coat when he was gathering our belongings – I had just purchased it in Florida.
After many phone calls to Toronto Pearson Airport, I finally spoke with someone that looked through security footage to track down my belongings. And $350 later, they shipped me my stuff. Thank goodness!!
But yeah, that was the end of our very, very exhausting trip to Florida. Looking back on the photos recently, and that it was 2 years ago, I can say that we did have many great times while we were there. But in the moment, it’s hard and we honestly thought we were losing our minds.
This was prior to me learning anything about ADHD and ODD and all the techniques and strategies that I have learned over the past couple years to help in those kinds of situations. Now looking back, I know there were many things we could have done to make the trip more enjoyable for the boys, Avery and our ourselves., but I didn’t know then.
Maybe one day we will go back, but I’m very certain it won’t be for quite some time! And that is totally ok with us :). The next time we go back, it will be just James and I with Jodi and Jordan, having some relaxing adult time.
When we got home, I POURED myself into learning as much as I could about ADHD and ODD. I needed to know what was going on for our kids and how this diagnosis affected them. How can I help in any way, because while we were in Florida, I definitely saw how difficult things were for them in some situations.
I found a seminar that was being held in May out in the Kelowna, BC area. And so I booked a ticket for my Mom and I to go attend together. We were going to make it a Mom and daughter trip and learn as much as we could about ADHD from this person.
I can’t wait to share it with you next episode!! I know it will help someone out there. It was life changing for myself and for our entire family.
Until next time, be kind and stay well.