If any of you know anything about me, you know just how disorganized my mind and my life can be. Creative? Check. Fun at a party? Check. First picked for dodge ball? Check. Organized and known for follow through? Not so much…
The Big D and I were blessed with these three Little Rains Children. Each sharing DNA, but not much else. Ella, the perfect one, Natey the wild one, and Nick the pretty one in the middle. Nick is the game changer. He has huge brown eyes, a wide smile, and a huge head full of brains. Nick has needed to know our schedule since he was born. He resists change like a germaphobe resists public transportation hand rails. And he got me for a mother. Before we all start feeling sorry for Nick, I do not resist change. I bask in change and spontaneity. So I had to change how I parented pre-Nick.
From the moment he could talk, he would ask ‘What’s next?’ or would say ‘Then what?’ He absolutely needs to know what the schedule is for the day. Not just an outline, he needs to know what time, who is going to be there, how he is getting there and when he is leaving. This is not an easy feat for a normal mom with any time management skill. I had none. We learned quickly that we couldn’t say ‘Yes, later’ to Nick. He needed a ‘Yes, at 2:35 we will leave to go to your friend Trey’s house.’ Luckily, his bestie has parents that totally get Nick and can understand his need for specific time and routine. Trey’s mom, Kelley, has even called other adults on Nick’s behalf to find out exact times so Nick could know when and what to expect.
We lived for years with a FIRST THEN picture schedule on our refrigerator so Nick would know what was planned and ultimately avoid a meltdown. Don’t get me wrong, we still had (and continue) to deal with meltdowns. Nick’s meltdowns are predictable and most preventable now that he has gotten older. If changes happen without explanation and his knowing, he is going to have a bad time. If he can be told about changes and what the new plan will be, he will be fine.
So, I told you all of that so I can tell you this. Over the Christmas Break, we had many little visitors to the Rains Compound, nieces, friends, friends of friends, and so on. The FIRST THEN picture schedule has been replaced by a monthly calendar in our kitchen that serves as our lifeline for what is happening in the lives of the Rains family. Everyone refers to the calendar, adults and children alike. All events, travel, ballgames, practices, and dr appointments are on the calendar-color coded by family member. Gus the dog even has a marker color for vet visits.
During one of our many visits with little friends, our calendar was accidentally erased and the dry erase markers were used to practice autograph signatures across our former December calendar. No worries, it was the last few days of December and I needed to get January up and done. What I forgot to do was tell Nick that I planned to fix the calendar and all would be right with the world in a few short hours. Instead of warning him, I hung the new autographed calendar on the wall in its normal spot and promptly forgot about it…until I heard Nick’s gasp. I found him in front of the calendar gasping and unable to form words. He could only make throaty noises of desperation and wave between me and the calendar. After assuring him I was fixing it and having him help, things were once again in balance at the compound. Well, until Natey got shot in the neck with a pellet gun and ran naked around the house because he didn’t want to get blood on his batman underwear. Rest assured, Natey is fine, it was just a flesh wound easily fixed with a Band-Aid and some gun safety reminders.