Every morning begins a new day, a new hope that things will be good again. It is a new chance to try again, for redemption in yesterday's errors and tribulations. Every morning is filled with transitions to where the day will take you and unfortunately, mornings are the hardest with a bunch of kids with autism.
The morning wasn't going quite right, somehow we were ahead of schedule, which meant we would wind up being late for sure. Since the weather was nice, we decided to walk to school. I was trying to get them all ready to go, and #2 said, "mom, I need something else to eat, I need more brain-food." Really? Now? Cause you spent half your morning playing on the computer. Why didn't you do it then? He wanted a full size Clif bar and I told him he could have a mini Clif bar, and then he lost it. (I probably should have let that argument go, instead of going into an explanation of his daily calorie consumption and how the full size Clif bar would exceed his needs. So noted.) I managed to get them all out of the house though #2 was still upset and chucked the mini Clif bar across the yard.
We got to the first corner three houses up and I did the usual pants check before we crossed the street. We are known as the crack house, because someone's heiney is always coming out for air. I pulled up #1's pants and when I got to #2, I noticed he was not wearing underwear. We could just walk to school and I can bring by the underwear later. But, how would that look when he is sitting in class and the office calls down to his class, "Mrs. O'Leary, J's underwear is here"? That is something the kids could make fun of him for years to come. Uh, not doing that. I could have let him go through his day all commando, however, his ass is usually out half the day when he is wearing pants and underwear so this was non-negotiable. We had to turn around.
I think it is easier to turn around a semi truck than to redirect five kids anywhere. It may also be easier to do eye surgery on yourself or juggle elephants, than redirecting five kids. #2 was screaming because he was still pissed off about the Clif bar and now had to go home and get underwear. #1 melted at the unexpected change and threw himself on the ground. I was trying to pull #1 up off the ground and he was not cooperating. I half picked him up, half dragged him a few feet and gave up. He had it in his mind that he was walking to the corner, and that was what he was going to do. (#1 goes to a different school and is bussed. So, we walk up the hill together and he waits with the crossing guard until the bus comes) Knowing I could not transition him back to the house, I let him walk by himself to the corner. I knew that he would see a few parents on the way up, who would look after him. The three younger ones decided to listen and head back to the house.
We got back to the house and I let #2 back in to get underwear. He took a long time and I had to go in and get him out the door. We were going to have to drive to school instead of walk because now, we were late. I loaded the other kids into the van and managed to get #2 in as he said, "I hate you mommy. You are a horrible mom." Ouch. Jab, cross, hook, ouch. I told him, "Yup. I am. Sorry you're stuck with me. I could sell you on ebay if you're not happy." He continued to scream all the way to school. When we pulled up to the drop off, I was glad the school guidance counselor was there to help get him into school.
I sat in the van and watched him run around the front school yard for a few minutes until he saw the principal and quickly made a bee-line into school. I hoped he was able to turn it around.
I spent most of the morning tracing the steps that lead us down that path. I tried to identify triggers and strategies that could have made the morning better. I replayed each interaction and wondered how my actions played into the situation. I came to the conclusion, that I need to say less; maybe I am talking too much and clouding the message. Next time, I will try that. Maybe next time, I will have vodka in my OJ and that will make make me a wee bit more tolerant.
Turns out he was able to turn things around. My husband and I have a hypothesis: if they start the day in 'time-out' then they will have a good day at school. Today it was proven to be true. He recovered nicely and #3 had a really bad day. (Never underestimate the power of osmosis).
As we were getting the kids undressed for baths, I noticed #3 managed to go the whole day sans underwear. He was the kindergarten commando. Talk about irony. I can only imagine how crazy it would've been if two children had to go home and put on underwear. Well, I know now, it could've been much worse. Note to self: do underwear check before leaving house.
Let's hope tomorrow we have an easy, transition friendly and underwear clad day. It will be a new day, the possibilities are endless. And, maybe some Bailey's in the coffee wouldn't be such a bad idea. It is Friday after all.