Little Man has a field trip today. His class will visit all four public high schools in town. They call it “Jump Aboard.” I am freaking out, just a little bit.
Field trips for him always give me anxiety. He hates the bus. It’s loud, it’s out of routine, the kids are usually over-excited. It’s always been a trial with him, since Kindergarten. Then there’s the process of getting him through whatever they’re doing. He took his headphones today. I’m not sure if his SAI will be with him or not. Every time I think about him navigating four high school tours without losing it, I twitch. I’ll be on high alert all day today, until I pick him up this afternoon.
The other reason I’m freaking? This just makes it more real the fact we are at the point I’ve been trying to put out of my mind the last couple of years. We have to choose where he’s going to be for the next four years. We have to figure out what environment is going to best suit him and his needs. I haven’t wanted to think about this. I want to stay in the land of denial, and in the relatively-comfortable zone we’ve found at his current school. They know him. They know how to handle him. They know his quirks, his needs, his anxieties, his amazing mind.
I look back three years ago when we started this decision-making process for middle school. I remember how stressed and anxious I was. I remember my fears and all my worries. I know we made the right choice for him, that it all worked out, and that this too will work out, and someday I’ll look back on this time and wonder why I was so very anxious.
We want what’s best for him. We want him to be happy with the decision, and to buy into it, so he will be part of the process. Today is the first step on this new part of his journey. So, yeah, I’m a little freaked.
Little Man’s class is going on a field trip tomorrow to the Science Museum. I am not going with him. This is making for all kinds of emails and texts flying around between his SAI, classroom teacher, and myself. You’d think we were preparing for something much bigger than a simple field trip. Only we know that with ASD kids, nothing “simple” is simple.
He LOVES the science museum. There’s lots of hands-on stuff, and the subject matter in the entire place is right up his alley. We even went there for his birthday last year, at his particular request. I let his teacher and the SAI know that part wouldn’t be a problem.
Here’s the deal though – he hates the freakin bus. It’s usually pretty loud, and there’s generally a good amount of chaos. I get it – the kids are excited to be getting off campus, going somewhere interesting, doing something that isn’t part of the normal routine. He will normally do pretty well on the way there, but we’ve experienced meltdown more often than not on the trip home.
I also asked his teacher to review the agenda for the day with him, and give him a written schedule. It really helps lower his anxiety to know what’s going to happen when. The only backlash being he will expect everything to happen exactly when the schedule says it will happen. You and I know it doesn’t always work that way. So I asked her to remind him it’s not set in stone.
He will be taking his headphones and snacks. They’re worried how he will do in the IMAX theater. He’s been in IMAX four or five times. It’s not usually a problem. I’m truly hoping that will be the case tomorrow.
You might ask why I’m not going with him. I could be going, but I chose not to. I have three events to prep for, and I kind of need him to get used to doing these things without me there as his crutch. I’ve written before about his co-dependence. I discussed with his SAI at the beginning of the year I would be begging off of most things for this very reason. She understood. It’s another form of therapy for him to have to get through field trips without me there.
I’m a bit anxious about this. But I’m holding that in. I don’t need him to know I have any concerns at all over how he’ll do. If he recognizes I’m anxious, that won’t help his anxiety levels one bit. We’ll both take a deep breath and hold on tight. Fingers crossed and prayers going up he flies like we know he can.
You’d think I’d have learned by now to never talk/write about how well my kids are doing, how healthy they’ve been, or how well they’re behaving. Inevitably, they set out to prove me wrong and eat my words, intentionally or not.
I had a meeting today and thus could not go on the field trip with Little Man. After drop off this morning, I was sure he would be okay. He’d told me so himself, hadn’t he? Towards the end of my lunch meeting, I pulled out my phone just to check, and sure enough…two calls and a voice mail from school. I quickly excused myself to check voice mail. Little Man was falling apart, and needed to go home. The message was already fifteen minutes old, and I was more than half hour away from home. I called school. He was calming somewhat. Maybe he would make it through.
I decided on the way home I would just park instead of getting in the line, and go into the office to check on him. Ten minutes away from school, my phone rang again. He wasn’t better. He needed to go home. He was crying and screaming. “I’ll be there in ten minutes,” I told the social worker. You know it’s bad when even she can’t calm him down.
I reached school, and then proceeded to break all the rules….driving up the wrong side of the driveway, going in the out lane of the lot, and then double-parking in the lot. I ran in, and there he stood, stoically silent but with eyes that I could tell had been full of tears. We’re home now. He’s resting on the couch. The bus was loud. He had to wear his headphones nearly the entire time, and that made his ears and head hurt. The noise, being out of routine, dealing with the unexpected conspired to present his perfect storm.
So he didn’t really “have it” as I so blithely posted this morning. I’m sitting here enjoying guilty-mom-status, thinking I probably shouldn’t make any of his teachers ever have to endure another field trip with him. He’s doing what he needs to do to chill out. I’m foreseeing a rather large glass of wine later this evening. I hope his teacher will be able to enjoy the same and recover from this day. It’s one of those days when I would really love to not have emergency mode on call every moment of every day.