Living a One-Car Existence in a Five-Person Family

My family has one car. Well, a minivan really, but still only one vehicle. No, not one vehicle because my husband has a motorcycle. So he has two vehicles, but because I don’t because I don’t know how to ride a motorcycle. I only have one vehicle. Well, I do know how to ride a motorcycle, but I don’t know how to drive one. You get the point.

There are lots of reasons why we only have one car. Economically it makes sense. Environmentally it makes sense. Practically it makes sense. Most of the time we don’t need that extra car. It would sit in our driveway almost all day every day. Even when we do need an extra car, usually one of can hustle a ride. The ride hustler is generally the parent in charge of the fewest children at the time.

Every once in a while, however, one of us gets stuck. Take this week. I had a conference to attend for three days. Because my husband had all three kids, he needed the car more. So the whole family got up early and drove me to the conference where they dropped me off. But then when it was time to pick me up on the first day, my husband was stuck at the house with an installation guy from DirecTV.


Especially since said conference was hell and gone from where I live. Consequently, I had to embark on an hour and forty minute, two-bus voyage home.

At least I didn’t have all three kids with me. I’ve done that. It’s not awesome.

But still? Lame.

I used to ride the bus everywhere. I didn’t have a car for the five years between high school and grad school. I owned a bus pass and could get anywhere in the San Francisco Bay Area on public transportation. When I was getting ready to move to Los Angeles for graduate school, I started looking for a car. I have vivid memories of standing at bus stops looking wistfully at cars passing by.

I was emotionally transported back into that headspace last week as I stood at a soggy bus stop sadly waiting for my bus. It is dispiriting to know that if I had a car I could be back home in 20 minutes, but knowing I had an hour and a half on a bus ahead of me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the public transportation option. I’m just glad that I don’t have to take it all the time.

I wound my way home via the most circuitous route possible. If you ever want a tour of scenic suburban Rockville, take the number 48 bus.

We’ll most likely stick with the one-car system for the foreseeable future. It doesn’t make any sense to get a new car for the very occasional use we would get from it. But I may just have to learn how to drive a motorcyle. That would make sense.

Stimey painstakingly pecked out much of this post on her iPhone while waiting at the bus stop. You can find her blogging at Stimeyland. She also runs an autism events website for Montgomery County at AutMont and writes a column for the Washington Times Communities called Autism Unexpected.

What a Great Couple of Days

Oh my God, you guys, I have had an incredible couple of days. I have many good and exciting things to tell you.

First of all, I met with part of Jack’s team at school for our pre-IEP/goal creating meeting yesterday. It was phenomenal. I walked out of that place feeling high. I was all prepared to argue why I thought Jack needs a peer buddy system, a la MOM-NOS. I walked in with my stack of papers and my charts of goals and looked at the papers they had prepared, and right there on top was a peer buddy system.

They looked at my list of goals and took it with them to add to their goals. They looked at my suggestions on the goals they’d already written and happily added in all my suggestions. The speech therapist and school counselor had just been to an autism seminar the day before and were all excited to help Jack.

When I handed them the My Friend With Autism coloring book I’d photocopied with a suggestion to give it to his classmates, their only question was, “Can we really keep this?” When I suggested that we have some peer education about autism for the other first graders, their only question was, “Would you like us to do it when Jack is there or when he’s out of the room?” When I expressed my concern about Jack not knowing any of the other kids’ names and being isolated in his classroom, they gave me their ideas to piggyback on my suggestions.

Even though many of my goal suggestions were social, not once did any of them say, “But what does this have to do with his academic success?” They never once suggested that because he is above grade level that he doesn’t need the support he gets. They asked me if I wanted him in ESY (extended school year, special ed style) and agreed when I said I did.

It was incredible. Jack and I are lucky people to have this team. They really seem to care about him, from his aides all the way up to the principal who saw me in the hall and called me into his office because, “I haven’t seen you for a while and I wanted to know how things are going.”

Do I sound excited? I am. It was an amazing hour.

Then, as if that weren’t enough, today I attended the first day of a three-day conference I’m attending called Diamonds in the Rough about “smart kids who learn differently.”

Today was just the pre-conference, so I attended two three-hour sessions. They were both fantastic, but the first one completely blew my mind. Jonathan Mooney spoke about neurodiversity to a small group of about 30 people. I honestly can’t remember the last time someone inspired me so much. And not in a gooey, faithy type of way, but in a hope, hope, HOPE! type of way.

I go to a fair number of these autism/special education events and, I gotta tell you, I often leave them feeling bummed out. The system is broken, or at least badly damaged, and while it is vital to learn that, it is depressing.

I left Mooney’s lecture in happy tears. Yeah, I’m the idiot who burst out in tears after Mooney’s rousing closing words, which included these three very important words for us to impart to our children: “YOU’RE NOT BROKEN.”

I may or may not have told the lady next to me (through sobby tears, mind you), “I have a six-year-old with autism and he’s perfect!”

I am such a dipshit.

I have a tremendous number of things rolling around in my head that I want to write about concerning that lecture, as well as the rest of the conference, past and yet-to-come. I’ll probably end up writing about it over at Autism Unexpected, but will try to remember to link to it from here.

I know this is kind of a brain dump post, but there is just so much Happy and Hope and Good in my brain right now that I wanted to share it with you. Don’t worry, I’m sure I’ll soon be full of ennui again and be able to blog about ridiculous things that tiny animals do.

23 thoughts on “What a Great Couple of Days

  1. I am like a sponge soaking up every ounce of your giddy, goofy,joyful energy tonight. It all sounds pretty freaking awesome and that’s gotta be good, right!? :-)

  2. You sound so encouraged and hopeful and it’s all such positive news!! I’m virtually dumping a concentration of green sugar on top of your head in celebration!

  3. We SO have to have a beer together. Seriously. My first pre-IEP meeting is tomorrow, and I am SO not looking forward to it.

  4. Our IEP (part II, after part I didn’t even get close to addressing the issues) is tomorrow. You have no idea how badly I needed this pep talk…even if you weren’t trying to pep me!

    He is not broken. He is not broken.

  5. The first line made me laugh. LOve, love, love that you have such an amazing team for your boy. OH, and I have those “dipshit” moments quite often.

  6. Yea! I am doing the happy dance for you here! I am so bummed that I couldn’t go to the conference with you (or the thing last night, I forgot that I had to go to something from my work). I would love to hear all about it when you are done.

  7. Maybe I should move up to MD (we live in NOVA but husband works in Montgomery cty) and get in your son’s school. It sounds amazing!! I feel like my son’s “issues” are constantly downplayed. Your happiness is infectious.

  8. I’m in a much better mood after reading this post – what an awesome experience for you, and I’m so glad Jack’s got such a great group working with him!

  9. I’m late to the party, but yay!! I’m so excited for you and Jack. What a wonderful team. Hope you’re still riding high!

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