Clouds, May 2010

Clouds, May 2010

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I hate antecedents, especially on weakdays. Before I became a parent, they were just weekdays.

Antecedents sound like something I should be able to eliminate with bug spray.

Oh, we learned all about the antecedents when Hayden was diagnosed. These are the nasty circumstances, contributors, conditions, causes-- whatever "c" word you choose to use-- that will likely result in a meltdown. For instance, antecedents can fuel a meltdown even over daily transitions such as getting on the school bus.

The experts tell us to prepare for this, prevent that, try those techniques, expect these results, and beware of any and all transitions.

Yesterday I said, and wrote, that Hayden would probably be absolutely fine getting on the bus this morning since Dan is home on Thursdays. My suspicions were confirmed. I am an antecedent. I am the antecedent mother.

(Never mind the insecticides, the word is vulgar.)

Following Hayden's flawless bus boarding this morning, Dan and I had a discussion of comparisons if you will. He is correct that from the moment that Hayden wakes up in the morning everything is rush rush rush.

But I am left wondering how can it not be. I change him, cook him breakfast, start getting myself ready, get him dressed, clean up from his breakfast, finish getting myself ready, heat up his lunch, pack his backpack, make sure I actually finished getting myself ready as opposed to just thinking I did, straighten up the house (or at least enough that I won't come home feeling like I stepped right into a disaster area), get Hayden's socks and shoes on, hat, jacket, and out the door. 

Then it's my turn, and I leave for work.

From the moment that Dan wakes up in the morning his routine is more like... get himself showered and dressed, socks and shoes on, and out the door he goes to work.

After school, the antecedent mother isn't much better. Hayden comes home and he's almost always hungry. First I change him, and then try to clean him up if he's shvitzed from the bus. Then I prepare him a small meal (no need for more snacks, which he had plenty of at school).

I check his backpack for the dirty stuff-- usually that includes one shirt they had to change, and will always include his lunch container. I clean out his snack sack, too. I go through and empty both of his folders, put aside homework if there is any, and then resist the urge to re-pack whatever I can for the next day. I try to save some of my proactivity (I don't know if that's a word, but it should be) for later that night, after he is in bed. In addition to checking, and responding to, the parent-teacher communication journals. Yes, plural-- there is one book for the resource room teacher, and one for the kindergarten teacher.

At some point after school, Hayden will inevitably ask me for DD. I will inevitably turn the idea down. You see, there is one day every week that Dan works from home and can get Hayden off of the bus. That is the day that he usually takes Hayden for DD. 

Right off the bat DAD can prevent nearly any transition meltdowns, because it's the one afternoon he's home and Hayden is very happy to see him. As opposed to his antecedent mother that he sees all of the other weekdays. To top it off, Dad takes him for the doughnut. But even if he didn't, he has plenty of time to just play with Hayden.

Usually when I am done preparing Hayden's first dinner, and then going through his school stuff, it's about the time to prepare his second dinner-- which will be the first dinner for everyone else in the house.

I was hoping that after our discussion and epiphany this morning, we could come up with ideas on how to make Hayden's transition to and from school much smoother. Having more time for him before he leaves the house, and more time for him when he comes home.

I suggested that Dan take off work for two days, and we flip-flop routines. I will wake up in the morning, get myself
showered and dressed, and leave for work.

Dan can take care of the rest. I mean the whole morning routine-- actually pretend like he needs to be dressed and ready for work, and get Hayden ready for school. I even suggested he doesn't have to do his hair or makeup. I'll spare him that extra time.

To make this a legitimate flip-flop experience, he would have to leave the house and find something to do for about five hours. Not golf. Something that will wear on him a little bit-- make him slightly stressed or tired or frustrated. Then he can take a break, but he's not finished. 

He will arrive home about a half an hour ahead of the bus. He must log on the computer, and continue to do something that will require his attention. Hayden will come home, Dan will need to start on the first dinner, remember to keep checking the computer, unpack anything stinky from the backpack, log off the computer at the appropriate time, start on the second dinner, and so forth.

Let's see who the antecedent parent is now.

During this two day flip-flop routine, I can come home to a calm kid who was waiting for me-- not the other way around-- and he is thrilled to see me. He's been home for a couple of hours already, my spouse cleaned him up, fed him, and he's all settled in. Just waiting for me. He has calmed down from his busy day at school. He's happy. Most nights the house will smell like dinner (or dinners). I will put my stuff down in my office, smother my kid for a minute, and then head for the bedroom to change out of my work clothes. My adorable, lovable child will follow me and jump on the bed eager for more smothering.

I will sit down to a nice hot meal, with my happy kid and my spouse. After dinner I will go outside with my happy kid, and we'll play some more. Also this will allow us to be out of my spouse's way so the kitchen can be cleaned up from dinner. When we come back inside I will give my happy kid a bath and get his pajamas on. I'll sit down on the couch, pull the ottoman over, and put my feet up.
--- --- ---

Don't get me wrong-- it is not Dan's fault that our routine is what it is. It's not his fault that I must do this, that, and the other thing by myself every morning because he's already at work.

But my point is, I am the antecedent mother and I do not know how not to be. And clearly Hayden can sense this.

So, if there are any other parents out there with essentially two full-time jobs and a child with special needs and few self-help skills... I'm open to suggestions on how to get him on that bus, and get my weekdays back.

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