The Rush to the Bus

school bus

Getting kids out the door to the bus every morning can be challenging enough for most families. However, when kids have special needs, the challenge is even greater. Parents of kids with special needs perform a delicate dance each day – taking into account the individual needs of each child while also making sure necessary tasks are accomplished.

Take this morning for instance. When I told Levi to make his lunch, he ignored me and kept playing. I set the timer and again instructed Levi to make his lunch. This time he came out of his room and threw a few choice words my way. “Levi, you have five minutes to make your sandwich. If you don’t, I’ll put a roast beef sandwich in your lunch kit for you.” (Levi is very particular about his lunches and does NOT like roast beef sandwiches.) With a minute to spare, his sandwich was in his lunch kit. His older sister even had him smiling and singing along to a silly song from a Paddington Bear movie.

As soon as I showed up with Levi’s hearing aids, the smile vanished. Levi covered both

A beautiful morning

his ears. “Levi, why don’t you want your hearing aids in today?” No response. I lifted his hand off his left ear and immediately an elbow took its place. “Levi, I need you to tell me why you don’t want your hearing aids in.” Still no response. I remembered the school was having some issues with Levi’s FM system – more than one piece of equipment on the same frequency which resulted in Levi hearing instructions from another classroom. “OK, Levi. You need to wear one hearing aid today. Your right one doesn’t have the FM on it. How about if I put that one in for you?” Levi looked at me, still not totally convinced. However, he did allow me to put his right hearing aid in.

“Time for jackets!” Four kids raced for jackets. Levi went to his room. I helped my three-year-old daughter put on her snowsuit and found Levi’s mitts and toque. I placed them on the floor next to his backpack. Levi was still in his room. As I entered his room, Levi hit the floor. It was clear he was heading under the bed. I caught him and sat him on my lap. “Levi, it’s time to go to school.” He shook his head. All morning Levi had been telling me by his actions that he didn’t want to go to school. Time was ticking. I knew the bus was coming. What should I do?

Rainbows and Remembrance Day

A Poppy is to Remember
They died so we can live

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the Remembrance Day service at Ardmore School. I was especially touched by two events in the service. The first was a student who sang lyrics to a Remembrance Day poem her mother wrote more than twenty years ago. The second was the slideshow which depicted soldiers in the trenches. One image in particular stuck with me:  the battlefield is total muck – the soldier in the forefront of the picture is spattered with mud from head to foot, but sitting with his head held high and a sense of purpose about him.

On the way home, I enjoyed the beauty of a rainbow. Like the picture, the colours were painted across the sky in a perfect semi-circle. I thought about stopping and capturing a picture, but as I drove on the rainbow literally evaporated before my eyes.

You may wonder why I have chosen to connect rainbows and Remembrance Day. The beauty of rainbows is fleeting – rainbows only exist when mist and light intersect. Remembrance Day is only celebrated (by most of us) once a year. I am realizing how easy it is to take beauty and our freedoms for granted. We talk about the sacrifices veterans made for us, but will we truly ever understand how much our freedoms cost? For some soldiers, the price was their lives. For others it was loss of limb, loss of the ability to provide for their families, loss of the future they dreamed of. I have never experienced the brutality of war, and maybe I never will. But each day I can be thankful for the many freedoms I too often take for granted. In this way, I will remember and continue to honour the precious gift our veterans have given. Will you join me?

Winter Woes

Snow on branchesWinter has never been my favourite season. Perhaps it has something to do with spending most of my early years in southern Africa where the temperatures only dip below the freezing mark once or twice a year. Or maybe it’s the fact that I hate layering up – it seems like such a waste of time! I can relate to the frustrations young children feel in winter.

The other morning I was reminded of my distaste for winter by the reaction of one of my sons. It was time for my children to head out the door to catch the bus. “Time to go,” I called. The house was filled with last minute scurrying – picking a favourite toy to stuff into a backpack, finding the correct pair of boots. “You need your winter jackets today. It’s cold outside,” I reminded. Four of my children obediently put on their winter jackets. Levi put on his spring jacket. “No, Levi, you need to wear your winter jacket today.” He avoided my eyes and continued to get ready for school.

There are some things you should understand about Levi. He likes consistency. He also has sensory issues which make it challenging for him (and his caregivers) when it comes to new clothing.

Levi allowed me to take off his spring jacket. However, when I started putting his winter jacket on, his body suddenly had an attack of Rigor mortis. None of his joints worked. “Levi, feel how soft your jacket is inside!” His eyes told me he would put up with whatever he had to, but he was not happy about this new jacket. I sighed. He had gone shopping with me to pick out the jacket. He had tried the jacket on in the store and commented about how good it felt. But somehow this morning, when he needed to wear the jacket, he had forgotten all about how good it felt.

After five minutes of cajoling and bending stiff joints, the jacket was on and zipped. As I stood up, Levi deftly unzipped the jacket and slipped it off, leaving it in a heap at my feet.

I decided to let him make the call that morning. I restated that he needed to wear his winter jacket and then walked out the door. As I gathered the other kids around me at the end of the driveway, I wondered if Levi was going to miss the bus. A couple minutes later I looked towards the house and smiled. Levi was walking down the driveway. He had his mitts and toque on… and his winter jacket 🙂