Friday, October 31, 2008

A Halloween scare I could've done without

Dakota and Dylan move through life at radically different speeds. Dakota likes things planned and can take ten minutes or more to just get his shoes on some days. Dylan seems to find it excruciating to be still for longer than 20 seconds (and no, he is not ADD, ADHD, or any other alphabet combination). Zadie Smith says of one of her characters in White Teeth that she "moved through life with her mouth wide open". I first read this when Dylan was only about three but several years later this expression still fits him like a glove. He seems to want to experience absolutely everything in as short a time as possible so that he can move on to experience the next great thing. Especially when they were younger, I felt like I was constantly playing a sadistic game of "Which one do you love more??" For example, Dylan (age 4) is pedalling his bicycle ahead of me and has almost reached an intersection where I don't know if he will stop on his own - but Dakota (age 6 - with Autism Spectrum Disorder and because of it, low muscle tone) is behind me and has just gotten to the top of a hill with a sharp corner at the bottom and there's a 50% chance he won't be strong enough to brake his bike to a stop before he crashes if he can't make the turn. QUICK - Which one do you love more?? Or Dylan (age 2) has run off in one direction like toddlers tend to do while Dakota (age 4) thinks it looks like fun so he runs off in the opposite direction. QUICK - Which one do you love more??

Now that they're a little older, it plays out in a slightly different way. Dylan takes about 15 minutes to get ready for school (dressed, bed made, lunch made, breakfast eaten) in the morning and, if I'm not paying attention, will wear the same clothes as the day before just so he can get to school earlier. Dakota will linger, taking at least 15 minutes just to eat breakfast and he couldn't care less about getting to school early. I finally had to tell Dakota that if he was late to school, he will lose activity time in the evening.

We only live about a quarter mile from the school and I accompany the boys every morning whether walking, riding bikes or, when it's raining hard, driving. This year, however, since there is only one of me and two of them and the two of them have such different time tables for getting out the door, I'm once again playing Which one do you love more?? I've started just this year to allow Dylan to go to school by himself while I follow with Dakota about 5-10 minutes later. This morning Dakota and I were about a block away from the house when we heard sirens. Now, I'm a worrier. Devin tells me I worry way too much. I respond that I'm really good at it because I've had so much practice and am just playing to my strengths. It's a joke because the truth is I do worry too much and I know it. If I hear sirens and one of my boys isn't in sight, I just KNOW those sirens are for him. -Then I talk myself down from the ledge. That's what happened this morning. - - Until we rounded the corner and I saw two police cars and an early-responder fire truck, all lights flashing, on one of the streets where Dylan would have crossed less than 10 minutes earlier. Now I'm fighting panic because I know it's Dylan even while the rational side of me is trying to stave off hyperventilation by thinking, "Really, Ann. Get a grip! What are the odds?" I sped up anyway and started looking for Dylan's white helmet. About a block later I see it in the middle of all the lights about the same time as the ambulance pulls up. I'm sure nearly every parent has imagined something like this but, trust me, I was WAY more freaked than I would have ever imagined. I was still visibly shaking an hour later.

Dylan was fine, thank God, just very scared. He's gotten hurt worse falling off the skateboard when there was no car involved. He was riding his skateboard across the street when a teenager came off the main street turning left and didn't see him until she "tapped" (the police used this word) him and knocked him off the board. Dylan said he tried to stop at the corner but couldn't. The teenager did the right thing by stopping to help (you hear so often about people - even adults - who don't). It was one of those horrible accidents that could have been prevented in so many ways and could have been soooo much worse than just scaring the daylights out of everyone involved. I'll bet the teenager looks more carefully for little kids and Dylan stops all the way before crossing streets from now on. In the midst of all the drama, Dakota passed right by with barely a pause because he didn't want to lose activity time for being late to school. I didn't realize until I looked around later that he was already gone.

Halloween blessings:
Non-fatal life lessons
helmets - which don't do any good if they're not worn
boys who, if you're lucky, follow the rules when it counts


Lemon Dingo said...

You poor thing.What a horrible fright you must have had. My heart was in my throat just reading it...( can you tell that I am also a worrier?) but I figured that if something really bad had happened you probably wouldn't be thinking.."Must get online and blog about this" I am glad it all turned out OK. You'll need a vacation just to get over Halloweeen!

Devin said...

Nice post. I had to laugh at the ending as I picture Dakota continuing down the street as his brother lies in the street with all of the emergency vehicles. Guess activity time is more important than Dylan.

I am SURE you will hear all kinds of good "advice" from my parents over this one. Good luck with that.