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Bends in the Road

One thing after another happened today.


This morning my 22 yo daughter planned to bring her two little nieces to the beach with me and my four littles. We got five littles packed in my van and she took the baby in her car to meet us there.


The van would not start! Immense disappointment wailed from the back seats. We might not get to go to the beach after all. “But I WANT to GO!!”


I turned around in my seat and asked them as calmly as I could, “When your batteries die in your remote-control cars, will they start by themselves if you scream and cry at them? Will screaming and crying make the van battery start?” Thankfully their unanimous answer was “no…” but of course that didn’t help their disappointment. At least the wailing turned into sniffles and tears while Daddy worked at trying to jump-start the battery.


His car died a few weeks ago so we are sharing the van until we get a replacement. He works from 2pm – midnight so he normally takes a nap before he leaves for work, but this morning had this to deal with. It seemed to take forever but he got it running enough to drive to a shop and get a new battery put in while I fed the kids lunch. He got a very short nap before walking to catch a bus to work. We made plans to pick him up when he gets off work since the buses stop running at 11pm.


So, we finally get to the beach about an hour later and find out that 400 teens are there for a field trip - NOPE!


So, we drive 20 min the other direction to a different beach and see the signs posted: BEACH CLOSED... due to health concerns. More dramatic disappointment from the back seats.


Well, praise God this place has a great playground and splash pad!


After all the driving, the baby fell asleep, so M stayed with her in the air-conditioned car rather than waking her up. I took the other five to the splash pad and then the playground. Soon one of them asked for her water bottle. I asked all of them if they wanted their water and turned around to go back to the picnic table to pull their bottles out of the beach bag.


When I turned back to start handing out the water, I realized my 5yo was not with the girls!

I asked them where he was, expecting him to be straggling behind since it was only a few seconds since I saw him with them. I called his name and he did not answer – that’s not new.. I had the girls scatter around the playground to look, but he was not there. My heart was in my throat!


My mind went to stories I had heard of other autistic children wandering off and terrible things happening. That could NOT happen to my son. Everyone who knows me and my husband KNOWS how protective we are of our children – maybe even OVER protective in some people’s opinion!


Something made me turn to look at the parking lot instead of running down to the beach. There he was way out by our van, coming back with M and the baby!

It had only taken him a few seconds to run over 200 feet away!

I kept calm even though I wanted to scream – he had NO IDEA what he had just done was so dangerous.


I told him how much he scared me. He said didn’t see where I went. He thought I went to the van, so of course he went to look for me there. I asked him where he was going to go if M hadn't got out of her car.


"The woad.”


As if I should know that running down the road was the next logical thing to do if you are five and you think your Mama left you behind.


He has ASD level 1. And several other diagnoses. No concept of what could have happened.

So, I played my own version of hide and seek just with him at first, so that I could praise him for finding me without running everywhere, and then the girls wanted to play too because it looked so fun.



After putting my son to bed tonight I spent some time talking to his sisters about the events of the day. The devotional – this ALWAYS happens – was about bends in the road. Perfect opportunity to talk about THREE “bends” we experienced this morning. The girls hate having to wait for any reason, and especially hate to miss out on something fun. But they learned that bends are NOT in our control, and we must find a way to be joyful anyway. We did still get to have fun even though it wasn’t the way we planned.


And THEN the scary thing that happened with their little brother. I hadn’t told them before but decided now was a good time for them to know that he has autism. They are so frustrated with him so often, not knowing how to play with him or what to do when he screams. I understand, I told them. He’s my first child with autism so I’m learning too.


We discussed how to use his favorite game, I spy, to distract him when he is screaming or growling at them when making silly faces at him doesn’t work. We talked about how to get him to turn around or head him off if he is running instead of chasing him – chasing makes him laugh and run faster. “Look! I see an owl!!” We can use his favorite things to redirect him – letters, colors, owls, planets…


And so, we got to end the night with laughter instead of fear. We learned positive ways to work together as a team to keep little bro in sight to watch out for him and find joy instead of dwelling on frustration.


Who would ever want to think of negative experiences as gifts? Yet, if we learn from them, then gifts are really what they are. God really does use negative experiences to teach us when we let Him. We just have to LOOK UP as Jesus Himself did when he spoke to our Father in Heaven and remember that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17


Take time to talk to your kids ahead of time. Before you go to a park, the zoo, a crowded beach. Make a plan with them so they will know what to do if they lose sight of you.


Find great ideas here:

Raising PEARLS: Prepared, Empowered, Armored, Restored, Loved and Secure Children https://a.co/d/dfs7iP4

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