Posts Tagged ‘problem solving’
“Forgetting Spells” Inclusion and Happy Endings
Looking for the Village WiseWoman
When I get depressed, I like to pull out a Nora Robert’s book. Don’t laugh:)
For a couple hours, I let the queen of romance weave a tale about another world where, no matter how impossible the conflict, the heroes and heroines will overcome all odds and there will be a happy ending. If only real life was like that. Sigh.
In Nora’s book, “Once Upon A Rose” the village WiseWoman conjures up a “forgetting spell” which protects a baby girl by making her invisible except to those who will wish her “good will”.
Of course any time magic is used, there needs to be a sacrifice to restore balance to the universe–so in this story the mother dies so the baby can live. Of Course.
In my last post, I talked about Balancing my child’s needs and mine. (Click here)so I’ve been thinking about balance, sacrifice and love.
I’m hoping a WiseWoman will come along and cast a “forgetting spell” on me. I’m saying this because I think “forgetting” is the key to solving so many of our problems. What if we could cast a “forgetting spell” so that Aaron would only be seen by those who wish him well? He would be surrounded by people who care about him.
I always felt “Inclusion” and blending into the normal life of a neighborhood is Aaron’s greatest safety–just as animals are protected by camouflaging themselves into their environment.
Success Story 1
Last week early one morning, the van driver from Aaron’s day program and his residential caregiver were having words in the driveway of Aaron’s house. GEESH! After all the community building I try to do with the neighbors GEESH ALMIGHTY–the normal adults (the paid professionals who are caregivers) are practically coming to blows in the driveway. And who do they call to fix it? NOT the two different agencies who are making thousands of dollars on Aaron, no of course not–they call me.
So, I handled it! YEA ME! It took several phone calls and a couple hours work, but starting next week a new van service will be providing transportation. Hopefully it is a win-win situation. Most of all, Aaron won’t have to have an emotional stressful start to his day. And any neighbors who might have noticed the commotion will forget about it and Aaron will go back to being invisible. He will just be a normal guy being picked up. No one will notice or be concerned. If there is ever a situation where Aaron is in trouble, I’m hoping the “forgetting spell” will bring out those who wish Aaron “good will” and they will speak up and protect him.
Success Story 2
Because I was unhappy with some of the things in Aaron’s life and took action, the agency which supports Aaron in his day and residential program have been very upset with me. I was the Wicked Witch, the Mother from Hell, the woman who just kept making trouble, anything but the “WiseWoman.”
Well, about 8:30 this morning, I get a call from the supervisor who previously would hardly even talk to me. He called and said our loving staff person who has been with us for over 8 years had a family emergency. Could I possibly go to Aaron’s house?
In twenty minutes I relieved the staff person and held down the fort until the supervisor could get there. In that time, I took both the guys to the bathroom, plunged the stopped-up toilet, and threw a load of clothes into the dryer. I got the guy’s back-packs and lunch boxes ready and when the supervisor arrived was able to give him directions to Aaron’s program and help them into his car.
I felt really good I could help our staff person, Aaron, his housemate and the company. I also felt good that they called me. It was the “community” the “team” the “extended family” I was always talking about.
What struck me was how the attitude of the supervisor had changed. Of course I can’t speak for him, but I think this was a transformational moment in the way he looked at my role as a mother and as part of the larger ecological support system (see related post).
At one point I almost thought he was going to give me a hug. This was incredible because only a couple days ago, I would have put money on the fact he was purposely trying to “punish” me for challenging his agency and his authority, adding roadblocks to our already difficult and complicated life.
I wish I could craft a romance writer’s tool and create a nice story arc which would tie up this story in a nice circle. There was an opening conflict, it was resolved, and both parties were changed. But “happy ever afters” are just in fairy tales and romance novels.
And unfortunately Aaron’s story will have another opening conflict tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
And that is just normal life. It is true of every person’s life, not just people with disabilities and their families. The morning after… always opens a new chapter.
So just having a happy ending for one day is okay.
Our staff person’s family crisis worked out okay. She called and thanked me for being someone she could count on. Which is perfect, we need each other. But the big change is that I don’t think the supervisor will ever again see me as the “Wicked Witch” or “Mother from Hell”.
I’m sure we will have more disagreements. He is the representative of a company which has few resources and lots of responsibility and I am the mother of a 35 year old person with autism and severe disabilities who needs lots of resources and lots of responsible people to care for him.
But today we didn’t need bigger-than-life heroes and heroines who did heroic deeds, we just needed WiseWomen and WiseMen.
And maybe today, I’ve had my own transformational experience. Maybe when I am looking for the village WiseWoman to create magic, I’ve learned that WiseWoman must be me.
Today felt like it had a “satisfying ending” even Nora Roberts would approve. And maybe more days with just plain old “satisfying endings” will lead to that elusive “happy-ever-after” for Aaron and all people with disabilities.
Are you becoming a WiseWoman or WiseMan?
Tell us your story or experience with forgetting, and happy endings.
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Climbing a Mountain is a Team Effort, each person is important.
All the best,
Roberts, N. (2001) Once upon a rose: anthology. New York: Penguin Putnam.
This morning I saw an egret in our garden.
It stood majestically with its head tilted upward and its slender white body contrasting with the green of the newly planted tomato plants.
The bird looked around for a long minute, and then flew away.
Wait! An egret? This isn’t Florida or South Carolina. The ocean is a thousand miles away.
It got me thinking:
How did an egret end up in our garden? Was there a transportation glitch? Will s/he be back tomorrow? Does an egret worry? How does s/he solve problems?
Thinking, Worrying and ACTION
Like many parents of people with disabilities, I spend most of my days trying to see the world from my son Aaron’s point of view.
Thinking and trying to problem solve;
Worrying I won’t find an answer in time to help Aaron.
Now, I don’t stop there.
After my thinking and worrying,
I take ACTIONS to solve the problems, one step at a time.
This is a full time job. One I didn’t want, one I didn’t plan for, one I have to do every day.
Last week’s problem: Aaron’s 3.5 hour daily Van Ride.
Thinking and Worrying:
Will Aaron have a 90 minute ride today (the legal limit for one way)?
Or, will he and the other 5 people have to sit in the van and wait (and the van ride will actually be 110 minutes) because the staff is too irresponsible to open the doors on time?
Will Aaron chew the collar on his shirt to shreds in the 90-110 van ride? (I have had to buy him a new coat each of the last 3 weeks, he was actually spitting out the metal zipper pieces on one coat.)
Will he bite his hand and draw blood while he is frustrated?
Will he have to go to the bathroom? Have an accident? Get constipated because he is holding it for the 4 hours a day he spends in the van?
Will the van driver sing to him if he starts to get agitated? Will the van driver write Aaron up as a behavior problem?
Will the other people in the van get upset?
Will it be too hot in the van? Too cold?
Last week’s immediate ACTION
I comfort myself that Aaron likes van rides, and Bruce, the van driver, seems to care about him.
After I had my thoughts together, I checked the documentation on the pick-ups/delivery times (the daily chart/notebook I wrote into the ISP), analyzed Aaron’s van behaviors, talked with the staff at both Aaron’s house and day program, made several phone calls, wrote a couple emails about the problem, found out a couple key people were on vacation, make a couple more phone calls….
Immediate Solutions I hoping for:
1. The staff of the day hab center (drop off point) now open their doors on time–removing the extra 15 minute wait time.
2. The van is repaired (storm damage) for our new Goodwill/Easter Seals program and available to pick up Aaron.
3. Aaron won’t have to be on the other van at all with the 5 other people.
4. Aaron will get a direct route to his new program which is 21 miles away, reducing his 4 hour daily ride to 2 hours.
“For every action there is a reaction.”
Long Term Solutions for the Transportation Problem
In the next few weeks, I’m hoping the van for the Goodwill/Easter Seals program is repaired from storm damage and will transport Aaron.
I know the never-ending cycle of thinking-worrying-actions will repeat:
Will the new van driver be as good as Bruce? Will s/he care about Aaron?
Since Aaron and his housemate will be taking different vans, the residential staff will have two different pick-up/drop-off times. They don’t have autism, but they don’t do well with change. (Little humor there.)
A shorter van ride for Aaron means the home staff will have to adjust their work schedules and add an extra half hour in the morning and evening. They will see this as Aaron messing with their day. Since they get paid by the shift, not hour—no extra pay, just an extra hour of responsibility.
I know, I know… I can hear many of you saying: “They work for Aaron, they should do what is best for him.” And, you are right. That is the bottom line and the reason Aaron will have the more direct, shorter route. But that doesn’t mean they will like it, or do it with a smile.
Short-term and Long-term Problems
Each day, I work a little on the long-term solution to Aaron’s residential staff issues. Some problems can be addressed in a week, unfortunately, others take years.
And, while I can pull a Scarlett O’Hara and say, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” My child is waiting for me to fix this.
If I don’t do it, no one will do it.
A Parent’s Life:
I’m writing this because I want to believe the egret was a “sign.”
I want to think the wonder of the unexpected, the unusual, the beautiful will help me focus on the good, so I can stop thinking and worrying about Aaron and the bad things that still need action.
Live for Today
I tell myself—quit thinking and worrying. Just enjoy! Just remember the sight of this regal bird and the unexpected pleasure it brought.
I remind myself–that’s enough thinking and worrying today. Get a cup of tea; take a bath; read a book with a happy-ever-after …and thank God for an egret.
Because even after you finish your thinking and worrying about the transportation issue, there is still the issue that one of the staff people doesn’t give Aaron a bath every night…and the million of other issues that need action.
There will ALWAYS be more battles to fight.
There will not always be more days to just enjoy life.
Maybe my advocacy actions will give Aaron a shorter, safer ride to his day program. And maybe I’ll be able to chip away at the residential problems, and maybe Aaron will get a bath tonight.
I can’t fly away like the egret.
But, maybe today I can stop thinking and worrying–at least for a few moments. And maybe that is the exact ACTION I need.
In the comments tell us: What are you thinking about? Do you wish you could fly away from your problems? Have you seen something today that was unexpected and brought joy? Do you think and worry? Or, do you think, worry and–take action?
Keep Climbing: Onward and Upward.
All my best,
Quote: “You can always tell a mother. She’s the one who wears her heart on the outside of her body.”