Wind Machines and Dippin’ Dots

Atticus and I planned a trip to COSI. I wanted him to experience the planetarium for the first time. He wanted to go because he thought there might be a wind tunnel. I told him COSI doesn’t have wind tunnels, and he’ll just have to wait until he gets to Virginia Tech to live out that dream. You see, his one desire is to experience “hurricane force winds.” It’s all he talks about lately. Of course, he’s never actually been in hurricane conditions, so it’s fun and easy to think about those things when there isn’t a real fear of danger.

The planetarium was our first stop, and as I expected, Atticus fell in love. He’s had a fascination for the solar system since he was three or four years old, so this stop was a no-brainer. He learned about the upcoming solar eclipse and was captivated by the star filled night sky surrounding us. When the host rotated the sky and zoomed in on planets, Atticus almost came out of his seat with excitement. The show didn’t last long enough for his pleasure as we only visited three planets, including earth. Atticus was sad we couldn’t visit them all, but happy for the experience nonetheless.

We decided to take a break and get some Dippin’ Dots, because who can go to a place like COSI and not eat Dippin’ Dots? As we approached the stand, the most beautiful sight in the world appeared right before Atticus’ eyes – a wind machine. Kid you not. It wasn’t exactly the wind tunnel of his dreams, but it would do in a pinch. It’s basically an enclosed “tornado” chamber that shoots air down on you at a top speed of 78.9 mph. He simply had to get inside.

After spending an exorbitant amount of money just to walk through the doors of COSI, I now had to spend another $2.00 for the kid to experience a dream.

He walked in and closed the door. I inserted two crisp one dollar bills then a mild wind began to blow and quickly picked up speed. Twelve seconds in, total fear consumed his being, and he thought about escaping. He reached for the door, but he stopped before he opened it. He fell to the ground and covered his ears in an attempt to lessen the sting of the noise, then, yes then, that familiar switch was flipped. The fear evaporated, and he popped back up and began “reporting” the conditions of a “category 1 hurricane.”

I honestly felt bad for him during his few seconds of despair. I thought about opening the door and pulling him out myself, but I was also thinking I just spent $2.00. He better finish this! Seriously though, I was proud of him. Atticus has struggled with severe sensory issues his entire life, and although he’s able to handle more incoming as he ages, the struggle can be too real at times. So when that wind picked up speed, and the crashing, loud sounds began to roar, I was confident he would come running out of the machine crying and trembling, but he didn’t. He was able to somehow sort through all the elements that were attacking his senses, and he was able to deal with them and overcome. This little moment gave me hope that in the future, whatever this boy sets his mind to do, he will be successful.

The rest of the day was pretty pointless – other than the fact that I finally got my Dippin’ Dots. We looked at a couple other attractions, and rode a simulator twice, but he kept returning to the wind machine, and I plopped down ten extra dollars for him to relive his fantasy again and again. Just to see him process and overcome that moment of uncertainty was worth the price of admission and then some.

****I have video of this exciting event, but I won’t pay the extra $$, so wordpress doesn’t allow me to post videos. If you want to see it, I will try to have it posted on facebook this evening.

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