A “Not Fun” Day

Today just wasn’t fun.

Last night, I put Jonah to sleep at 9pm via melatonin. He was OUT COLD.

I figured, I’d get up early, get a workout in, and have some fun with the boys.

Jonah had other ideas. He was up again around midnight. He waltzed into our room and climbed into bed with us. He’s not what you would call a “peaceful sleeper.” Sometimes I’ll tolerate it, but my wife had to work today so I put him back in bed and laid down on his floor. He likes me to be in his room until he falls asleep.

He ended up falling asleep around 1:45am. He woke up again at 4am, and took me downstairs. He was thirsty and I got him something to drink. I don’t remember when he finally went back down, but he was up and ready to roll at about 7:45 am.

So not much sleep.

And apparently, Jonny had gotten it in his head that we could go to the zoo today. And he asked me this morning before I was properly caffeinated.

In my head, I thought I might have told him something like that, but it could have just as well been a dream. Jonny countered with “you promised me I could go today.”

Did I?

I honestly do not recall that, but I very well could have and just have easily forgotten. And I always want to keep my word.

But seeing an opportunity to get to the gym, I told him that we could go, just as soon as I finished my workout at the gym. So I used the zoo as a reward for letting me workout… a reward I would have never agreed to if I had simply worked out early this morning like I wanted.

When we got to the zoo, I already saw the disaster looming. I had my stroller with me, which was my only defense against Jonah’s running all over the zoo. Jonny wanted to visit the aquarium first, which was one place that was not stroller friendly.

 

I had to take Jonah out of his stroller. He ran. I chased him. Not only did I not want to lose him, the wall and railing that stretched around the top of the water keeping Jonah from climbing in with the halibut and seabass is perilously short. So he ran. I ran. I told Jonny to follow us so he didn’t get lost. So all 3 of us ran laps around the aquarium. Not one fish was even viewed by any of us.

After around a dozen laps, I told Jonah it was time to go, even with transition cues and everything. Jonah informed me in no small way that he would not be leaving the aquarium willingly, indeed not even getting in his stroller again.

So I packed him on my back and we walked halfway across the zoo like that. I’m sure we were a sight. We ended up at the meerkat exhibit, which also has some kid toys. Jonah decided he wanted to play there so thankfully, I was able to put him down for a bit.

About 10 minutes after that, Jonny told me he had a headache. He didn’t feel well. He was wearing a full Darth Vader costume so I was afraid he was dehydrated or worse (getting sick). He definitely looked peekish.

 

After another 5 minutes or so, I successfully corralled Jonah back into the stroller and that was the last exhibit we saw before we left. About $40 in admission for 45 minutes. We walked out of the park toward the parking lot.

Well, as we got closer to the car, Jonah decided he did not actually WANT to leave the zoo.

By the time we got to the car, he was in full on meltdown mode.  Jonah wouldn’t sit in his seat. He cried. He screamed. He made his body stiff as a board and flailed. He hit me. A lot. Through sheer will, I wrestled him into his seat and buckled him in twice and started to leave. He wriggled out while I was driving. All while screaming. 

We were too far away from home to let him ride without a seatbelt. We had to drive on the freeway. 

Jonny would start crying and covering his ears and each time Jonah would start up again. He didn’t like hearing Jonah going through a meltdown, but he was really trying hard.

I was really trying hard.

And in the middle of it, I saw some shady characters who I thought had no business being at a zoo walk past my car. They didn’t fit the profile of a zoo-goer on a Thursday afternoon. They looked “off” to me. No kids or strollers, no cameras, one with his shirt off, neither even looking to come or go. Just walking up and down the parking lot. To me, they were car-prowling.

But I had other, more immediate matters to attend to.

I finally grabbed Jonah and set him on my lap in the front seat. I squeezed him tight and he calmed down. I told Jonny we would just have to wait it out until Jonah decided he wanted to sit in his seat. 

An hour passed until this scene unfolded right in front of me.

A 4-door sedan started driving away at a high rate of speed. A young woman in her 20’s was hanging on to the opened back window being dragged behind trying to pull her legs up off the ground. They dragged her a good 40 yards. At first, I thought they were messing around, goofing off, but they were going way too fast for that. I saw at least 2 men in the backseat, both yelling at her to “let go of the car.” I instantly recognized them.

The men I thought were “car-prowling.”

I thought, this might be a domestic disturbance of some sort, a lovers quarrel or something like that, but it was neither. There was no screaming or anything like that. But something wasn’t right. I didn’t know what to do. Jonah was still sitting on my lap, one false move away from melting down again.

I was contemplating calling the police, knowing if I did, Jonah would be screaming in the background, but the woman let go of the car and it drove away. She appeared to not be seriously injured. Just a couple scrapes.

Turns out, she was part of the parking security at the zoo. My “hunch” was correct. Turns out, they had broken into somebody’s car, just out of my view, and the security officer had witnessed it and gave chase. My hats off to her because that was some dangerous stuff she did trying to intervene and save a family some headache and hassle.

She was already on the phone with the police. There were many other witnesses as well so I didn’t feel compelled to intervene after the fact. I had other priorities. Neither of my kids had noticed and I wasn’t about to upset Jonah again.

A few minutes later I asked Jonah if he wanted to go “bye-bye” and he thankfully crawled into the back seat and sat right down, letting me strap him in. Jonny cheered for him. We drove home without further incident.

So we spent the day at the zoo. 45 minutes actually inside the park, and the rest of the day in the parking lot.

Today was eventful. Just not fun.

Jason Reynolds
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Jason Reynolds

Jason is a freelance photographer and graphic designer. He is also a parent of Jonny (9) and Jonah (4) who was diagnosed with Autism in December 2016.
Jason Reynolds
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