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.”