That dreaded message, “I missed my stop”.
I reply, “OK. Get off the next stop” then send a second message “Are you ok?”
The first reply comes as “OK” and the second reply comes as “OK”.
Fifteen minutes pass and I send another message “Where are you?” and there is no reply.
So, here’s the story……
I arrived at my son’s Occupational Therapy appointment early to surprise him and take him to get afternoon tea. He is 15 and for the second time he is catching the train after school to get to his therapy session.
Last week he left school, and successfully caught the train to his appointment. This train travel does include a change of train. When he got to the station he needed to alight at, he did so and then walked himself to the therapy centre. He did walk down a wrong street and when he realized, he was a little anxious but walked himself back to the main street and found the correct street.
This week, he successfully caught the train, did the train change but MISSED getting off at the correct station.
The above conversation takes place between him and myself and then nothing. I have assumed his phone has no gone flat as he should be back in a signal area by the time I message him to see where he is.
I message my daughter as her husband works for the Railway. I message my friend who is also has Asperkids and she panics. I message the therapist and inform him that my son has missed his stop. I tell him I am at the centre. I tell him that this mummy is panicky. He arrives in what seems forever and is calm and relaxed. I say that my boy is missing and he says that he will turn up. I walk into the therapy room waiting for some action but that doesn’t happen and we chat a little about learning life skills and problem solving. well, of course that makes total sense, except I have no idea where he is as his phone is flat. I am reassured that he will turn up. Not helpful I thought, so I say “I’m going to buy his afternoon tea” as I think that there is no point running all over the country side, beside where would I start.
My friend is now ringing train stations to see if there is a way to track him. There are mixed responses with one station being very rude and dismissive and the other very helpful. My daughter is reassuring me that it is good life skills.
But, we haven’t prepped for this kind of scenario. He has no scripted plan. Will he be emotional and crying? Will he know how to get back? Will he freeze? What if the station he gets off at in unmanned?
As I am leaving the grocery, I see my boy walking down the street. What a relief to see him. He is safe. I want to go run and hug him. But I don’t and he doesn’t see me. I watch him, with his fidget spinner in his hand and spinning, and walking to therapy. I enter the therapy centre only a minute after he does. I can’t tell if he is angry or upset but I see he is hot. I ask him how he is and hand him his lemonade and finger bun. His answer is a mumble but that is ok. Given what he has gone through any response I get I am very thankful for.
You may be asking why I didn’t hug him? The answer to that is that I m very aware of how much my feeling and actions can impact the way something is perceived. Although I was panicking about loosing my boy, I also was aware that he has caught the train before and that I think he has enough common sense to to figure things out. He knew where he had to be, right? Of course, I did not know how anxiety would play out in this scenario. Would he be able to think and reason or has he become non verbal in this incident and therefore be unable to ask for help or be unable to think and reason out this situation for himself. I didn’t not want to make a mountain out of a mole hill as the saying goes. I did not want to add to his fear or anxiety of the unexpected happening. Later, after his session and at home, I told him how proud I was of how he handled the situation. We talked about the anxiety and again, I told him how proud I was that he kept calm enough to work out what he needed to do to get back to where he needed to be.
Mummy lessons learnt here:
1. Plan for the unexpected in travel training. Teach strategies for different scenarios.
2. Buy a battery pack, especially for use on therapy day when the boy is travelling alone on public transport.
3. Take into account stations that are manned or unmanned on the train line.
4. Learn how to install and use a’ find my phone’ type of app so that if there is no response from the child that I may at least know where he is.
5. Lesson learnt from younger son, that mum’s phone number is on their opal cards.
6. Be thankful for an amazing therapist, who believes in Mr 15 and can use each and every therapy session to teach my boy, challenge my boy and believe in my boy and help this mummy not to panic too much!