The school run can be a nightmare for most men. Having to run the gauntlet through a sea of mums and kids. But when the male involved is a grandparent and has ASD (Aspergers) then it’s like an all out assault course with live ammo, bombs and a drill sergeant.
What am I talking about? The days when I’m asked by Juno (my daughter) to take Aston (my grandson) to school as she doesn’t have cover. Now, I love Aston to pieces but the first thing I should explain is that he is currently having tests for autism as he is showing signs. So far he’s had hearing and speech tests, both were fine just a couple of points on speech for not saying words very clearly. So as well as the one with ASD in charge of the school run, we also have a possible ASD getting ready and going to school.
It starts well enough, with mum (Juno) going off for the day and me and Aston watching Scooby Doo, but now I’ve just got three quick and easy jobs to do, yeah, right, easy. Brush teeth, put a jumper on and put shoes on, simple enough right? Wrong! It does start well, well fairly well.
Aston doesn’t want to walk upstairs, so I carry him and put him down at the top. Then I ask him to brush his teeth, this is an activity he enjoys. Job one ticked off, going well so far, now at this point I still have 15 minutes until I need to leave and all I’ve got to do is put a jumper and shoes on him.
Challenge one; jumper, the first thing is the jumper Juno got out for him, he doesn’t want to wear, but she did have a backup jumper just in case and yes he wants that one, hang on a minute I spoke too soon he’s changed his mind again, now he doesn’t want it so up to his bedroom we go to find more jumpers. I select three for him to choose from. He chooses a jumper all good so far just put it on and we’re sorted.
Like it was going to be that easy! Aston doesn’t want to put it on, he wants to run in his bedroom from one end to the other. This is a game he likes to play, he’ll do it again and again for as long as he can and by now time is ticking away, so we really need to get on.
So first I try convincing him that he needs it on, then I try you “can go for a ride in Pops car” (that’s what Aston calls me) but that’s no good either, nothing I’m trying is working. I’ve come to the really bad conclusion that if I just put it on him, how bad can it be? He’ll be in a mood with me for a minute or two and then we’ll be sorted, right? Wrong, again..
Oh my days he had the mother of all meltdowns and I don’t usually get them. He’s usually good for Pops, it’s usually Juno that gets the meltdowns. But my turn today, he’s thrown himself on the floor, he’s screaming and crying, all I did was put a jumper on, anyone would think I’d thrown out all of his toys.
So after about five minutes of this he seems to be calming down a little, now I should at this point, point out that I left the room and was out of sight as it usually calms him down quicker if he can’t see anyone. So I go back to him and ask him if he needs a hug, which he says yes to. So I give him a hug, pick him up and he now wants his blanket.
He has lots of blankets around the house 4 or 5 at least, different colours and sizes, they are security for him if he’s tired or upset, or just cold, he always wants one of his blankets. The closest to hand is his smallest one so I give it to him, he’s now calmed right down.
What’s left, just shoes, well he really should have a wee while we are upstairs. But he doesn’t want to go for a wee, I try “you haven’t had one in a while” to no avail, so I try you “you really should go before you go to school”, no dice with that either. Now time really is getting desperate so I go with the ol’ faithful, bribery “if you have a wee you can have a sweetie” result, now he’s flowing like a star but now he says “two sweeties Pops” so “OK as long as you put your shoes on as well” this he agrees to so I’m not silly I give him one sweet for going to the toilet but sweetie number two is reserved for after the shoes are on.
Now which shoes? I get his normal school shoes but he doesn’t want them, so I grab another pair of shoes, yes he wants those ones. Shoes on, sweet number two given, now I just have grab his jacket and lunch box and we are off to school.He still has hold of his blanket, but I’ve been telling him he can have it in the car but can’t take it to school. Which is fine he leaves it in the car, no problem. I get him out of the car, put his coat on, grab his lunch and he doesn’t want to walk, at this point I’m just happy we’re here!
I pick him up and walk into the school grounds and make my way to his classroom. I sign him in, not even Juno remembers to do that half the time. I put the lunch box with all the other lunch boxes on a trolley, get him out a snack, and oh crap! I’ve only gone and forgotten his drink.
Next, he hangs up his coat. Meanwhile I’m going nuts in my head, I would normally try to be early so hardly anyone is around, but due to the problems this morning Aston is one of the last ones to arrive, so now I’m having to walk through a classroom full of noisy kids.
My ears and head were hurting bad enough from this mornings escapades let alone the noise from these kids but all I have to do now is say to the teacher “I’ve forgotten his drink,” she says we have cups here, so there’s no reason for me to come back, thankfully!
Now just get Aston playing with something and leave, but he hasn’t fully recovered from his earlier meltdown. So won’t leave my side, the teacher tells me he’ll be fine and to just leave which I do. Aston starts crying but I know he’ll be fine once I’m out of sight and he finds something to play with.
Now back to my car, drive back to Juno’s house and relax. Now that I’m back I feel so drained, I need to just sit really quietly with a coffee to recover. No sound at all in the house, perfect.. I drink my coffee and I’m starting to feel a little better, all of that was just the last hour, so now to get out my laptop and do some work…..