Saturday, July 3, 2010

Directing Traffic

Audrey started her school's summer session on Monday, and even though it is the same school that she's been attending since last August, she was in for one big change.  And, no, it wasn't that she would smash her face in on her first day by falling off of a swing that was one foot off the ground.  She is being driven to school by a new transportation company.  Which is quite a big change for someone who hates change of any kind.  No more posh Lincoln Town Cars, no more suit-and-tie private drivers (that's right, no more Brian Da Limo Driver), and no more solo ride.

She now rides in a big white Suburban, with her driver Miss Greer, Miss Ebony the aid, and her old (pre-) school friend TJ who now attends the same school as Audrey. 

I was stressed about this change for weeks, mainly because on top of everything else there is horrendous construction on the route to school.  The school is almost 25 miles away, which is bad enough.  It's a straight shot up an expressway though, and the ride was just 30-35 minutes before the construction started.  Now it's a nightmare.  Brian always knew where all the bottlenecks were and how to get around them, but would the new driver?  Um, no.

We did a meet-and-greet the week before to prepare Audrey.  OK, me.  I started subtly (or maybe not) grilling them about their planned route.  Miss Greer was insisting that she would never think about getting on the highway and that she would take surface streets the whole way.  The hair on my legs stood on end, and I turned into the Holly Hunter character in Broadcast News.  "No, here's what you want to do.  Take 355 to Army Trail Road, then shoot up Route 53, cut over to the Elgin-O'Hare, and backdoor it up Meacham Road."  Then I elbowed her into the passenger seat and took over the wheel.

Then she starts talking about installing a DVD player or playing music CD's during the ride, which prompted me to whip out my highest and mightiest "Do you have any familiarity with autism?"  I then proceeded to enumerate all of the ways in which this could end in tragedy:  Audrey would get completely stuck on the DVD/CD and not be able to make the commute without it, and then God forbid one day you forget to bring a certain DVD or CD, or it starts skipping, or you arrive at school before it reaches the end, or you start it at a different point and then the "correct" scene is not showing/song is not playing at the exact same time as it usually is when she passes a certain billboard or street sign, and then she will start melting down and you will have no earthly idea why.  And why would you?  Because you don't care that "The Muffin Man" is playing at the precise moment that you pass the Lube 'N Go at 55th and Belmont.  But she does.  Trust me, you do not even want to start down this path.

Another crisis averted.  Is it any wonder that I'm constantly exhausted?  Anything else that I can take care of for you while I'm at it?  Hmmmm....let's see.  Just spit-balling here, but you might also want to rethink those horizontal stripes, take out a home equity loan to pay off that credit card debt, and don't even think about marrying that deadbeat boyfriend of yours because he's never going to change.  You're welcome.


  1. You let your daughter get into a car with someone wearing horizontal stripes? So brave.

    The muffin man at a certain intersection made me laugh out loud. Literally an LOL.

    I like you. You make me giggle in that "ugh, me too" kind of way :)

    I must know why Audrey's school is 25 miles away. Do tell.

  2. Yes, that must be some school for that type of commute! I can totally relate to how many ways a child on the spectrum can have a major meltdown! I have the gray hairs to prove it too! Yikes!

    I live in the Los Angeles area, but I'm amazed how many roads you mentioned that sound familiar to me. We visit family in St. Charles annually!

  3. Changes, changes. Once upon a time I had a friend who was an artist. A sweet, talented young man who lived on both sides of the coin. One day we were strolling along Greenwich Street in NYC's West Village. Lots of people, traffic, the occasional siren, just the stuff of the city we both lived in. We were talking softly as we walked. Brit suddenly stopped dead in his tracks and yelled "too many changes, to many changes". This
    was not at all unusual for him. It happened in different ways and in different situations, but it happened. I stopped getting freaked out in a very short period of time and it actually made me more aware and sensitive to changes all around me that I'd never noticed before.
    I'm not certain that the change/neural explosive chaos/connect back phenomenon is exclusive to autism. My husband and my son do not deal well with change at all. Sometimes just a small bump in the road and sometimes a major freak-out. I have learned to be very careful about whatever part of change I am even remotely involved with that may touch their lives. Are they anywhere on the spectrum of autism? I don't know. Sixty-three and forty + years ago was the middle ages for any kind of neurological dis-ease.
    Well, Audrey looks so sweet in her seat-belted place in the huge white vehicle. I especially love the smile, arms on the knees, tiny shoulders slightly raised part. Looks like "glee" to me. She looks ready for this new adventure whatever she may have to experience on the way there.
    Now for Miss "Clueless" Greer, has she got a life lesson waiting for her.
    Sending both you and Audrey good wishes for a great summer.

  4. When you said, "I then proceeded to enumerate all of the ways in which this could end in tragedy" I immediately thought...goodness, I am always on guard for those innocent suggestions given to my child that would cause an intense problem for him...such as, is the item too hard because it will easily become a missle OR will he latch on to said item and then want it constantly.

    "Another crisis averted. Is it any wonder that I'm constantly exhausted?"
    Geesh... life is in constant motion when you are having to be aware of all the smaller details...of course you are exhausted!
    Thanks for taking care of all the other matters as I got a chuckle...horizontal shirts are for certain a BIG no.

  5. I'm glad that you found my blog, and, in turn, I know about your blog!

    My son is beginning Pre-K in August and we have the option of having someone pick him up for school... I just don't think I can do it though... I think he would FREAK out! I can't even imagine what would happen. How was it when your daughter first started?

    What state do you live in?

    Hope you had a great 4th of July!

  6. Yes, sometimes I find myself rethinking the decision to send her to this faraway school. But it really was the best placement for her for kindergarten and I love the school. And before the construction started, it really wasn't any worse time-wise than a normal bus ride that made stops for other kids.

    @Kristina, thanks for becoming a follower! I'm just one away from 100! I avoided the transportation thing during pre-school, but then had no choice when we chose this placement. She was OK with it, but we did alot of prep work in advance. We tried to get her excited every time we saw a school bus (even though it wasn't a yellow school bus that she was going to be on) so that she would think it was a cool "big kid" thing. She also can read, so we use social stories ALOT to get her through these big transitions. We are in the suburbs of Chicago....where are you?

  7. For a long time, ours was the Hokey Pokey playing (over and over) at bedtime...of course from some generic CD which I could never replace if my life depended on it. And there's a slight possibility I used to lose sleep worrying what would happen the day the CD started to skip