Making a Difference?

If you read a few blogs back, you’ll see me ranting about volunteering and miscreant parent drivers in our school parking lot. Parents who behave badly teach their children to do the same. After lobbying for school and military police help, I had an idea to make the parking lot safer.

Working with our principal, I drew up a rough draft of a relatively cheaper way to fix some of the safety issues. The drawing a was forwarded, worked on by our CE section on base, and several months later, (this weekend), it was implemented. We redrew the parking lot.

I don’t have ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos. I didn’t think they’d ever actually do it. Before, the parking lot had 3 vertical rows of double column parking. There were frequent mishaps with children running behind cars, and cars backing out into on-coming traffic. Not to mention, cars backing out and into each other.

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My solution was to turn the rows from vertical to horizontal. Teachers have reserved spots on the front two rows. They park and go in. The parents can park, then pull thru when leaving, in the third row. No backing out, the crosswalk is clearly designated, marked correctly, and crosses the entire parking lot. There is now one entrance and one exit. Traffic only moves in one direction. Visibility is improved.

Bad points- parents will still behave badly and recklessly. There are only enough parking spots for staff. (This is a negative and positive. No parent parking means less traffic).

Other schools in the area have little or no teacher or parent parking. The goal was to make the lot safer. It has.

How do you deal with parking parents? Incentivize walking. It is healthier and greener for our society. Most of the families in the school live within a quarter mile radius. Why drive? Last year, it was suggested that we start a ‘walking school bus’. This promotes safety and community, and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. A few volunteers, a few manpower hours, et voila- it would reduce the number of kids running in the street, cut down on crosswalk confusion and get kids to school safely.

Am I trying to create a utopia? No, just a safer way for kids to get to school. Now, I need a charismatic parent to push the rest into motion. I’m a sledgehammer. I need a silver tongued parent to sweet talk the rest.

Trunk Sale… And Catch-up

Imagine a large parking lot with cars filling every other space. To the right of each car, each vendor sets up their stall to sell various and miscellaneous goods. Up at the front, a bake sale with home made goods, coffee and hot chocolate (molten magma). If the weather had been cooler, you’d have known it was fall. Instead, those of us dressed for the early morning chill started shedding layers earlier than expected.

The vendor in the stall behind me was selling anything he didn’t want in his house, to include a sleeper sofa that my husband bought. The stall to my right was selling used clothing from brands that cost more than my car payment. Over to the left, with a tented stall, an older couple was selling interesting odds and ends. They also had hats, hand knitted by their college student daughter.

The trunk sale idea was to fill your stall with what you could fit in your trunk. There were lots of trucks, SUV’s, and minivans. Used and unused household goods littered the lot. Clothing racks, tables and camp chairs were typical in most of the stalls. Each vendor paid $20 for a stall. Not a bad deal.

The customers were very unique. There were men in fishing hats trailing behind their wives, whose arms were full. Young and expecting parents trying to save money. There were not the usual garage salers, that I expected to see. The bake sale adults gave their kids trays and wagons of goodies so that the vendors wouldn’t have to leave their stalls. It was worth buying a donut, just to see their eyes light up. The disappointment when a vendor didn’t buy a little something, was apparent on their faces. The lackluster turn out, didn’t dampen the atmosphere of bargaining until a few hours into the event. Spirits were good, even after the expected crowd didn’t show.

…..

I’ve been busy. I managed to knit up 11 ruffle scarves, 1 hat and neck warmer set, a long cabled scarf, and a cabled slouch hat. I sold exactly none of them at the Trunk Sale this weekend. Color me disappointed. Six weeks of prep, down the drain.

The boys are finally getting into the school routine. I’ve got my volunteer schedule set. I’m dropping Physical Therapy due to lack of enthusiasm on my part and the techs. My physical therapist understands, as long as I work at home.

And all that effort to grab knitting time, proved wasted. Yes, it was supposed to be a flea market/garage sale, but the organizers didn’t get the word out. It was also the weekend before pay day, vice after. We are also looking at a possible government shutdown, again. I can hope for other opportunities to arise, but I now have to plan for Christmas with no surplus cash on hand.

On the bright side, we did manage to sell or give away almost all of our baby and toddler gear. That cleared a quarter of the garage, so that I can spread my little corner out even more. That is exciting.

Jamie and the neighbor boys just busted up a ton of styrofoam all over the garage and my work space, so perhaps we’ll be able to clear them a play area, as well. I will probably be finding styrofoam in my yarn for a while.

I’d put pictures up, but iOS 7 has me thwarted.

And Then School Started

School started for our school district August 22nd. The sighs of relief from the moms of school age children weren’t really heard until today. I think they all probably occurred around 9 AM. I know that this Friday, the base Starbucks will be full. The line might even reach out the door, into the PX, also known as the Exchange or small shopping center. The moms will congregate with friends they haven’t seen since school let out. New moms, who’ve recently moved into the neighborhoods, will be meeting and making friends. I will probably be sipping my coffee at home on Friday. I have no urge to go join the brutal melee of a pack of on-duty airmen, jonesing for their coffee, retirees who have no idea as to why the line is so long, and the rest of the moms who are really just looking for familiar faces and catch-up news.

Two of my boys are quite happy to be back at school. Despite the autism, they relish seeing people and getting out of the house. My middle son, not so much. He’s a lot like me. He’s serious, set in his ways, and thinks that if he says it, it must be so. That last one only works if you are Momma. On Thursday, he went to school, played at recess, then ate lunch. After lunch, he looked at his teacher and told her that it was time to go home. Veni Vidi Vici, or so he thought. Lo’ and behold, he did not come home after lunch, he had a few more hours of class.

Thwarted by his teacher and an aide, he was quite grumpy coming home. During ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis), he did not want to work. He’d been building up frustration from the day and weeks before. His tantrum lasted 45 minutes. His tutor, was taken aback. She also has an autistic son, but she disagreed with how things went down. I, as his mother, was a bit dismayed. We knew something was coming, but not what. You can watch my kids like a pressure valve’s gauge. You know they are gonna blow, you may even know why, but sometimes, you just have to let them blow.

Part of autism is the inability to regulate emotions, or express them in a proper, social conformity kind of way. For most people a tantrum is not productive. For my kids, learning to control them is very difficult. My youngest has multiple, little tantrums to bleed off the pressure. But my middle child is a pressure cooker. He simmers and compresses until he can’t hold it in. So, he hits his emergency relief valve. It has to be done. We can only guide and plan so much. Preparation can’t take care of everything. But it sucks. No ifs, ands, or buts. It hurts to watch your kid in pain. They have to learn to let go, and I don’t know that I can teach him that.

As a parent, you are supposed to relate to your kids, just not too much. I do know that after that tantrum, my middle child has improved greatly in his demeanor, and you can see that he’s got less stress pushing on him. That doesn’t mean he’s ok, but he’s back to his normal, serious self. I often find a good fight or explosion helps me level off. It’s just not done in society. I’m supposed to take him to the gym and let him work off his stresses, or find a creative way for him to express his anger. The problem is that those solutions don’t work for everyone. So I will have to help him find some way of getting rid of some of that frustration. But how do you tell a 6 year old that?