Thursday, September 16, 2010

It’s Okay to be Last

Waiting is one of the hardest things for my son.

When he was very young, Kai could not stand to wait in line for even a minute. For a time, we tried to avoid going to places that had merry-go-rounds or other rides because we knew he would have a severe meltdown if he could not get on immediately.

Now, he has gotten better about waiting in lines. Well, compared to before anyway. Depending on the day, he may wait patiently for five to ten minutes, perhaps longer on a good day. At a recent doctor’s appointment, he waited pretty patiently for 15 minutes. But, it was all I could do after that to keep him from wrecking the waiting room when we ended up having to wait for 40 minutes before the doctor saw us.

Whatever improvement he has made for waiting in lines has gone in the opposite direction in terms of being patient in the car. These days, more often than not, when we have to stop for a traffic signal, he will shout, “Stupid light!” What is even worse is his backseat driving. “Switch lanes!” “Go over there!” “Turn around!” When traffic is bad, he is almost constantly yelling directions for me, and getting increasingly upset when I don’t do as he says.

At school, Kai has had several major incidents where he tried to hurt himself or someone else when he was not the first student in line for lunch or PE or some other activity. For most of the time that he has been in school, the staff has tried to accommodate his lack of tolerance for waiting by minimizing the waiting that he has had to endure. And, while he has not always been chosen first for every activity, he has never been selected last.

Until now.

Knowing that, in the real world, he will have to wait and will sometimes be last for things, the school has begun to gradually practice that with him. Beginning yesterday, Wednesdays will now be his day to be chosen last for lunch and PE. They spoke to him about it the day before and we did at home as well. It’s okay to be last, we told him. He was not happy about it.

His counselor at school told us to expect that he will have a major incident the first time. It will not be easy, she said. But, it is something that is important to work on, and they think it is time.

So, what happened?

He went last and… handled it well. He had anxiety about waiting, but, with support from his counselor, was able to cope and did not have a major incident. His teachers say they are very proud of him.

We are, too.

Yes, for the first time, it was okay to be last.

Note: For those of you keeping score at home, that now makes it seven good-to-great days at school with the Under Armour versus four fair-to-poor days without.

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