Winter Woes

Cross-town treks during schooltime rush hour puts our columnist in a funk.

by Fran LoBiondo

Fran LoBiondoIt’s only a couple of days until the end of January and I’m still hanging on. We’ve had some unseasonably mild weather, thank heaven.

Yesterday, I had to drop and pick up my son at his adult day care program across town. The staff member who called me with the good news was very calm on the phone. It was right before I was waiting with Greg, in his coat, waiting for his van.

“Is it because of the roads?” I asked.

“Nooo,” she answered.

I just wanted to know if this was like a bus blackout, and all of the vehicles were rendered immobile for the foreseeable future.

“Well, what is it?

“Somebody called out, and we don’t have enough drivers,” she said.

Beautiful, I thought. Once again, I have to drop my son at his program in the Vineland Industrial Park, like I have nothing else going on. I also needed to pick him up. That’s two trips across town in the morning, and two in the afternoon. I’ve tried to shorten the trip, but there are school busses making stops at each block and if you leave my house and fight your way north to the program, you are almost in Malaga when you get there.

We live in east Vineland, and if you drive a few blocks east of here, you’re in Milmay. It’s quite a cross-town trek, and because of this, I would rather not drive him in on those days.

Well, no. That’s a bald-faced lie. Greg does not like his routine changed in any way, so if he’s home he will perseverate:

“Mom,”

“What, Greg,”

“PAFA (the name of his program)?”

“Well, they don’t have a ride for you, honey. Maybe tomorrow?”

I can see his face getting red, hands flicking, angry eyebrows, head lowered like a charging bull.

He’s not taking no for an answer.

“Mommy,”

“What, Greg”

“Go to PAFA?”

“Maybe tomorrow.”

At this point, I’m about to start bonking my own head in frustration. If I take him in, I lose most of the day. If I don’t, my day is shot.

Question: How many times can a woman answer the same question over and over again and still stay sane?

Answer: That’s really not his problem. He wants what he wants, and if I don’t agree, well, tough darts.

So what happens? I get his lunch, stomp out to the car, and drive him. This is my life. It’s why nothing gets done. Okay, time to step out of the whining zone.

It is good to look at life from Greg’s perspective. He did not ask to be burdened with autism, unable to communicate or have friends. But he has made it this far, and he’s still learning. He’s great at helping in the kitchen, opening stuck jars and stirring sauce with no complaints. If it goes on too long, he hands me the spoon and says, “Mom to do it,” and goes on to play music or watch The Cooking Channel.

On the other hand, he is the only one who will wash or dry the dinner dishes without being asked.

If he could drive, he surely would go see more of the world outside. I wonder if he understands why his little sister can drive while he cannot. My heart bleeds for him sometimes.

This morning, we were waiting for his van to pick Greg up. We usually stand by the front door so as not to miss the ride. It got late, so I called his program to see if the van was coming, or someone forgot to tell me it was cancelled again.

“It is coming,” the staffer said.

So I turned to assure Greg that the van was coming, and he was gone.

I ran all over the house, calling his name, and was met with a stupefying silence. So I called the bus manager at PAFA, and she called the driver, who assured me Greg was on the bus, no doubt humming his favorite Sesame Street tune, “The Teeny Little Super Guy.”

I exhaled a great big whoosh.

“I’m not crazy,” I said.

“I know you’re not,” she said with compassion, “You were afraid for your son. I understand.”

So my morning was about par. I lost my son, and he was fine. Not for the first time, I wondered why Greg gets anxiety meds as needed, and I’m stuck waiting for Happy Hour.

Viva Margarita!

Life Sentences