Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Safety Versus Pride

Have you ever been in a situation where you know what the right thing to do may be, but you just don't want to accept it?  You know you need to....there's no choice in the matter.....but you just want to convince yourself that everyone is wrong and you can go about doing everything in just the same way as you've been doing things?  That's what happened to me in the last few weeks.

My daughter (Ballerina) is a handful.  I'm not sure how much is directly related to her alphabet soup diagnoses (ASD, ADHD, POTS), and how much is just HER.  It all seems to come down to one thing.....she has to be FIRST.  She has to win every race, be the person to open every door and turn off every light, you name it.  Line Leader is her favorite job in her kindergarten class (and she's not alone in that one) and when you ask her what her job for the week is, that is always how she will respond.

All of these things have their annoyances, yes, but there's really nothing WRONG here (in my mind).  Yes, there will be tantrums when her older brother (Big Brother) manages to do something first, but we address those and are trying to teach her that everyone deserves a turn at being "First".  But she's taken this to a new level.  And unfortunately, she's done this in the parking lot.

Every day, I pick my 3 children up from the same school.  In order to make this process as safe and simple as possible, I make an effort to get to the school early so that I can park in a spot that doesn't require any street crossings.  I'm not always successful, but most days, it works.  And most days, it's the same parking spot.  I start in the kindergarten courtyard where I pick up the twins. Sometimes this goes smoothly, sometimes not.  But we do it every day and we have found a certain "routine" for this activity.  Then, we head over to the main entrance to pick up Big Brother (2nd grader, who is dismissed about 5 minutes after the kindergarteners).  As soon as Big Brother joins us, the race is ON.

Ballerina has decided that she needs to get to the car first.  She goes running off and Big Brother runs after her.  Big Brother is doing this on my instructions, to help ensure that Ballerina does NOT run into the parking lot with the oncoming cars.  But Ballerina just sees Big Brother taking chase.  And Ballerina's twin brother (Music Man), who has a recent history of elopement,  has to be a part of the game by body dropping so that it's impossible for me to go racing after Ballerina myself.

The school staff had watched my predicament (and has stepped in to help) for a couple of days.  When they realized that this was something that wasn't going to go away, they decided to REALLY step in.  A couple of days later, the new pick-up/drop-off routine was established.  Ballerina and Music Man are now picked up for school directly from my car in the traffic circle by one of their teachers and then returned there to me at the end of the day.  When they get back to the car, they earn a reward (small handful of Goldfish crackers) if they behave appropriately.

Don't get me wrong.....I am SO grateful that the school jumped in and took the initiative with something I don't know if I was comfortable asking for their help.  But when they first proposed doing this, the first thing I wanted to do was scream "ABSOLULETLY NOT!".  They already stick out with their odd behaviors (Music Man) and their constant shadowing in a mainstream classroom (Ballerina) -- this was just going to be another way in which they were different from the rest of the school.  But I knew I needed the help.  I knew that the suggestion was coming from the right place.  And I knew I couldn't do this alone, and I couldn't risk the safety of my children because of my own personal pride.

So, this is what we do every day.  And every day, I see the other kindergarten parents, picking up their children at the kindergarten playground.  But Ballerina and Music Man come straight to me.  And I know they're safe.  After what happened last week in Connecticut, it made me realize that it's these little things that we need to put aside because our children's safety has to be put above all else.....especially this Momma's pride.

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My name is Ilene and I'm a happily-married SAHM raising 3 amazing children and a dog.  My oldest child is 7 and I have a pair of almost-6-year-old girl/boy twins who were both identified as "on the spectrum" at 26 months (Autism diagnosis came about 4 months later).

Since then, I have been doing all I can to learn about Autism and to learn ways that I can help my children as well as others who are walking this same path.  I am a self-declared "Parent Advocate" and run a Facebook page (We Care About Someone With Autism) as well as blogging regularly (My Family's Experience With Autism).

I hope you enjoy our stories.


  1. Absolutely... safety comes first. Having the assistance from the teachers also makes your pick up time less stressful. Sounds like a win. :)

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