I have moved over to WhittereronAutism.com. Please follow the link to find me there. Hope to see you after the jump! :)

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Truth or date? [part two]

It’s a simple mathematical equation. If it takes one mother 28 minutes to walk from A to B, then it should take three healthy, youthful, energetic children ….a certain period of time to get from B to A. I use my usual scientific approach, double it and add half of the original = one hour and fifteen minutes, give or take a heart attack.

I give the new campaign considerable thought to aid a successful and therefore self reinforcing spin. I invest in three pedometers and dig out three stop watches to appeal the numerate amongst us. I’m cautiously optimistic that I might be able to tap into the competitive nature of sibling rivalry although that might have hidden dangers.

I remind them of the goal with the assistance of a social story and logic. The goal is the possibility of adding a dog to our household. No hound will be bashful, it will require a daily walk. If no-one is able to walk except me, then the dog shall be mine. I hesitate over the ‘mine’ word as it is both banned and a trigger word, a dangerous combination. I take a back pack full of water, sun glasses, baseball caps, baby wipes and a front door key.

I am ready. I think?

I shuffle the last one out the door and lock it behind me. They tumble out onto the driveway when I then remind them that we are walking to school today at 6:45 in the morning. A deafening ruckus of protest is immediate from my landed salmon, slapping away on the concrete. I stand and wait. My daughter picks flowers as we wait and glance around for a neighbour count. I use the lighthouse technique, pour praise and attention on the one behaving appropriately. I set her pedometer and stop watch, fiddle with the controls and beam. We arrange her hair over her ears and the sun glasses. The sun glasses catch their attention. We spend a considerable amount of time on the drive way kitting everyone out with their new equipment before we are ready to take a few tentative steps in entirely the wrong direction, since nobody seems to be aware where school might be.

The first real obstacle is one that I should have anticipated, early morning sprinklers. As they sput into action, he bolts before the first droplet has spurted. I order my daughter to keep a safety hand on her brother, the leaning tower of Pisa, as I leg it into the road to retrieve sparky, a jumping jack of nerve endings with the blood curdling screams of the imminently dead. He flails to beat me off but he’s still small enough to be scooped. I slope back to the others and piggy back him until he’s ready to use his feet again. He’s ready quickly, as he strongly objects to being face to face with a back pack, an added bonus.

We make a motley sight ambling towards the school. Spaghetti legs, limp directionless bodies and tippy toes mark us out as rabble. My daughter pauses patiently with each meltdown. We have a remarkably calm exchange, almost conversational in between the screaming protests and collapsed bodies. It is slightly surreal to talk to someone, a pre-teen someone, whilst hunkered on the concrete with a brother who rolls too near a storm drain, ‘jail,’ or a brother who freaks out at a disfigured road sign or someone convinced that overhead cables are about to fall.

We do not talk about what is happening or who is doing what? She is unfazed and amiable, discusses breeds of dogs, possible names and which sex would be preferable. I fear for her future. What kind of person takes this kind of experience in their stride?

Both boys tell me at frequent intervals, how exhausted they are, although not in so many words, but when the school comes into sight, they both burst forth for a hundred yard dash to the doors. One hour and 17 minutes later, we have completed our first ever leg of the school trip.

We may have fallen by the wayside a few times, but we’ve all arrived in one piece. Now that’s what I call a trip.

Sinking beneath the Plimsoll line

I take a deep breath to calm the quakes. The message on the answering machine explains, another week, just to be on the safe side. I think of ways to explain this to my children, that their Dad is detained in England with other responsibilities, for 7 additional measures of 24 hours? If I don’t manage to talk to another adult soon, I shall be a complete basket case. I currently exist in baby sitter free zone, perfect timing.

I refuse to count the number of meltdowns during the day, as they are all experiencing considerable amounts of stress due to the upset in routine. Ten days of parent teacher conferences will mean short school days. Whilst short school days might be welcome to many children, to two other children they present as an illogical time bomb in the schedule.

My latest mantra is “No Evan!” a hasty mistake and sure to be repeated at school. In an attempt to stop them copying the growling tone of their pal at 50 decibels, I am now stuck with this new phrase in a perseverating cycle, by both boys, in the exact tone that I was trying to avoid. Why did I snap with a denial rather than lure with a distraction, again?

My 28 minute walk to school and their 55 to 95 minute walk home is making serious inroads into any available free time. As yet I have seen no improvement in their ability to sleep. The ability to walk is an A list life goal for people who may never learn to drive or may eventually live somewhere else, other than America. Even if they end up only walking to goal B, for bus terminal, we still need to keep working. We’ve avoided the cheaters of candy and tapped into another motivator, the promise to consider adding a dog to our household. How can we adopt a dog if no-one can walk the dog?

Intellectual lightweight that I am, I refuse to renege on my new commitment to "Trusera," if only because I may shortly be I need of their professional services. I am sure that there are a whole category of people who find constant stream of stereo Mario voices, phrases, noises and tunes to be delightful entertainment, sadly I am not one of them.

The prospect of another week of unrelenting responsibility requires a different approach. There is no point in assuming that I can play catch up during a quiet period. Instead I must stay on top of everything continuously, not perfectly but just enough to get by. A juggling exercise just to keep our heads above water. Not all the laundry, just the greater part. Not perfect homework, ‘merely’ completed, perhaps. I try and think of ways to cut myself a little slack in the system. Anything to pre-empt burn out. But which bit to drop? I do what I do during the day, daily, is in part motivated by the promise that at some juncture in the future, I will be able to touch base with my better half, someone who lightens the psychological load as well as other fringe benefits.

How can I engineer a little slack? I decide to arbitrarily and unilaterally shelve instant administration. If each child could wait more than a nano second for me to oblige them, I will have artificially expanded my work schedule. I determine that a more or less blanket policy is advisable. No-one will die if they have to wait 30 seconds for assistance with pencil sharpening, opening something or toileting. I shall mentally prepare for the fall-out, endure the meltdowns, remain calm and shove the ear plugs in a little deeper.

Coffee to extend and perk up my personal shelf life, or pot of tea to calm down?

I leaf through the mountainous mail, bills upon bills, junk mail in between reams of recycling. My hands are a mass of cuts, not from paper but the lacerations from hand holding on dangerous streets, where nail clippers are a form of torture. I whip out an "envelope," which contains a card, which contains a message, which gives me just the snippet of hope and strength to make it through until bed time.

It’s just like the Cavalry, who always arrive in the nick of time.

- At Myspacejunks.com

AddThis Social Bookmark Button