Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year, New Cereal

It has come to my attention that there are many people with many different perspectives in this world. Shock! Gasp! We don't all see the same thing in the same way. Most people use the example of a half-filled glass of water to categorize people's general outlook on situations. Due to my fascination with breakfast foods, I like to use cereals instead.

Overly optimistic: Oh my gosh! There's a glass! And it has water in it! Hurray, hydration!
Corresponding cereal - Gold-Dusted Rainbow Dreams

Optimistic: That glass is half full.
Corresponding cereal - Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries

Realistic: Huh, there's a glass with water in it.
Corresponding cereal - granola

Pessimistic: That glass is half empty.
Corresponding cereal - bran

Overly pessimistic: Great. Someone stole half of my water and I still have to wash the glass. Water is stupid.
Corresponding cereal - Sour Grapenut Twiggy Clusters

Normally, I'd put myself in the Cap'n Crunch/granola millieu but an unfortunate series of events took me straight past Sour Grapenut Twiggy Clusters to something close to Fire-Coated Anger Puffs (now even saltier with Bitter Tear Concentrate!). A great number of things contributed to my poor disposition but in the interest of reducing my carpal tunnel syndrome risk, I'll summarize.

No Mouse and a Move

Sweet Girl and Little Man both came down with another virus. Sweet Girl has been sick so many times after beginning her school career, I'm considering sending her in a bubble. Because they were both under the weather and I had to clean up more bodily fluids than I cared to, we were forced to forego our trip to Disney World. Aunt Carrie and I had been fretting over the potential for icy weather and how we would get Sweet Girl and Little Man through security without leaving a child or our sanity behind. Not to mention how we would distract Sweet Girl during the flight AND manage to keep her feet off the seat in front of her. But that was all for naught, when I finally decided (with Aunt Carrie's help) that it was best for everyone if we did not make the Magic Kingdom the Land of Lost Lunches. We stayed home and recovered. Someone on that flight dodged a bullet there, let me tell you. At this point my granola was getting soggy and I was starting to eye the bran.

While we were home, I received an automated phone call from Sweet Girl's school telling me that Sweet Girl would be moving to a new classroom - in a new school with a new teacher- on January 18th. Many curse words. Many curse words. The need for an additional special education pre-k classroom is not in question. They are overflowing with students at this point. This will ultimately be the best thing for all the children involved to have three classrooms rather than two. However, (many curse words) this is a failure on the school system's part to properly track and make appropriate plans for the influx of special education students. So the fact that (many curse words) my daughter has to pay for the mistakes of adults who are supposed to know better, annoys me to no end (many curse words). Sweet Girl, who does not transition easily, will be making a huge transition in the middle of her first year of school. I will do my best to make it easy for her, but I cannot actually go to school for her - for one thing I am WAY too big for the seats - so I'm hoping, praying, and counting on some help of the divine kind to get through this. At the end of this day, I was definitely on to Sour Grapenut Twiggy Clusters. Maybe even with a side of soured milk.

A Solo Adventure

Aunt Carrie returned from Disney as any good sister would...with chocolate. We packed up every.single.thing in the house and headed to Newman for the holidays. Sweet Girl was very excited to go to Nana and Papa's and had even picked up the words to "Jingle Bells", which is always great to hear 5,000 times in the car. Christmas was great. There was even a beautiful snowfall on Christmas Eve bringing the first white Christmas for Sweet Girl (and Little Man too, but seeing as how this was his first Christmas I thought that might be implied). Christmas morning was lovely with the exception of Little Man. Little Man had decided that sleeping was for people other than the two of us. Why not party all night long? Sleep is boring! Why would someone want to be well rested? So, he was cranky. And I was getting crankier also. We were getting dangerously close to Sour Grapenut Twiggy Clusters again.

I wish I could say he eventually slept well on this visit home. I wish. I wish I could say that was the most exciting (in a negative way) part of this trip. I wish. No, the biggest adventure happened at Barnes and Noble. I love books. I like seeing words on a page and getting wrapped up in someone else's life and neuroses other than my own. I like the information books can bring to anyone who picks it up and tries to understand it. I love the fact that there are people out there doing mundane things all while writing beautiful prose or verse in their heads - and then they write it down and share it with the rest of us. Therefore, going to a bookstore is akin to magic for me. You open the doors and (gasp!) there are all these books just waiting for you to pick up and peruse! There are newspapers! Magazines! Maps! Music! Comfy chairs! You can even drink coffee while you loiter! Does anyone else hear that choir singing? But I digress. And mostly on purpose because I don't like the rest of this story.

Aunt Carrie helps us in to the store and while she gets her nook color, I take the kids to the children's section. There is no train table out so Sweet Girl takes her rightful place on stage. She picks up a Wonder Pets book and is doing her thing when I spot a display of educational toys nearby. I put Little Man down next to the display and I pick up a Twilight Turtle and inspect it to see if I think this may help Little Man get some sleep. I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure the rest of it went something like this nearly simultaneously:

Me (inner dialogue): Yawn. So if I can get him to sleep for more than 3 hours at a time with this thing it will totally be worth $20. Heck. Yawn. It'd totally be worth $20,000.
LM (inner dialogue): Ooh. That looks familiar. And it looks like I can make the entire display fall down if I reach for this one right here. Oh look! I was right!
SG (doesn't believe in inner dialogue and is at a constant volume level of 11 out of 10): Wonder Pets! Wonder Pets! We're on our way! To......

And at that point I don't realize Sweet Girl has stopped serenading both Champaign and Urbana because I'm busy picking up the eight sets of Shake and Count maracas my son knocked over. Once the display was in order again (no more than 90 seconds later) I realize that something is wrong. Something is wrong because it is quiet. I scoop up Little Man and walk briskly over to the display where Sweet Girl had found her book. She's not there. I walk up the middle of the store scanning both directions and really wishing my eyes weren't so damned close together on the front of my head. She's not anywhere I can see and she's not answering me when I call her name. I go back to the children's section. No Sweet Girl. As I go back to the front again, I see Aunt Carrie paying. She hasn't seen Sweet Girl but she quickly finishes her transaction and begins to search.

There is a statistic that 92% of children with autism wander. I'm guessing that 100% of toddlers wander from time to time and to varying degrees. The problem with wandering and autism is that many children with autism have communication problems. Sweet Girl is no exception. I wasn't surprised she didn't answer me when I called for her, because she doesn't always do that in typical situations. That is what brought me from minor panic to abject terror at breakneck speed. I knew no one would leave with her without me hearing it (for that I'm grateful for her intense stranger anxiety), but I also knew that she wouldn't answer anyone's questions if someone other than me found her and tried to help. If she somehow got turned around and didn't know where to go to find me, she didn't have the communication skills to tell someone her own name. That is why there is a statistic regarding autism and wandering, because it often does not end well.

As seconds stretched in to minutes, a million thoughts went through my mind. Please let me find her. Please don't let someone have let her out the front door. Please, please, please, please don't let this be how I figure out how to call Afghanistan. I was on my third lap and about to flag an employee down for a CODE ADAM, when I see/hear Aunt Carrie say "I've got her." There is Sweet Girl in her little pink winter coat with her Wonder Pets book under her arm blissfully unaware of the fact that she took 20 years off my life by going to check out the selections in the cafe.

I no longer had a million thoughts. I had one. I grabbed Sweet Girl, pulled her to me, and said (rather, ahem, emphatically) "You NEVER walk away from Mommy! NEVER!" Aunt Carrie, being the great aunt that she is, was at the ready in case the look in my eyes actually manifested itself physically as a toddler-swatting ninja. But at that point I started to cry. Which made Sweet Girl cry. Which made Aunt Carrie cry. And Little Man just looked at us all like we were crazy. Fire-Coated Anger Puffs all around.

But that's all over now. It's a new year with new possibilities. It's a new year with new challenges already, but also new opportunities. And now I'm looking for suggestions for a new cereal, because I'm done with these Fire-Coated Anger Puffs.

5 comments:

  1. Personally, I feel compelled to point out that the display tables ar B & N are EXACTLY the wrong height for spotting wandering toddlers or I would have called out to you 4 seconds earlier.

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  3. As always..the overwhelming urge to (((hug))) you is present. i'm so glad everything turned out alright.

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  4. I'm so glad this story turned out well! Even when I knew it would, my heart was beating so fast and my eyes were tearing up...you are an amazing writer! In fact, I'm sick of telling you that :)

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  5. Oh Sarah, I've got a Rolos story that is much the same as this. I wish I had had an Aunt with me at the time, but it now makes for a good family story since that 22 year old still needs a leash in the store...

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