Thursday, March 14, 2013

A McRealization

Some friends were talking about one of my favorite shows, The Amazing Race, recently and one of them mentioned jokingly that she loved the show and would love to be my racing partner. I'd had this conversation before with Dan, and as much as I love to daydream, the truth is that I would not be successful racing with anyone. Do you ever see these people? They rip open the clue, breathlessly read for 10 seconds about some five-step task that involves jogging to a busy market and assembling, say, a straw hat adorned with raw fish and papayas and peddling a rickshaw with said hat on head while blowing kisses to the masses.

I'd get lost on step one.

In the mom's group I attend, whenever we do some sort of ice breaker activity that involves a game, I have to interrupt to clarify, slow down the directions, ask the leader to reiterate. I'm not stupid. But I  most certainly do not learn by simply hearing. I need to see and do, and usually more than once.

This week when Ethan came back from soccer practice (week #6!) and by jove, Dan reported that he was finally getting the instructions and following directions, it dawned on me. Poor kiddo. This might not be strictly an autism thing. His troubles with auditory processing may come in part from me.

Back in college when I was interviewing for a job as a library page, the director gave me a "test" on shelf reading. Basically, shelf reading is looking at every single book on any given shelf and making sure they are in the proper order according to the Dewey Decimal System. Of course, I'd heard of the system. I'd looked up many books on my own (especially back in those days before everyone found their information online). But in the stress of a new situation, I froze. I didn't understand exactly what he was asking me to do.

"Uh, are you a little slow?" he actually had the nerve to ask me. I reassured him that no, I wasn't slow, I just had trouble sometimes picking up something right away, but once I got it, I got it and would do the job perfectly. And I did.

Even further back: circa 1990, Allen Street McDonalds. My first job. Big hair. Big glasses. Bellbottom uniform pants we used to fold and roll tight around our ankles because no one would be caught dead looking like the 1970s.

They tried me on the cash register for the first time during a Friday lunch hour, when the big head honcho bosses from the main office happened to be visiting, with stopwatches, timing how quickly everyone up front assembled orders. Needless to say, I got demoted back to the fry station. People were constantly swirling around me, yelling, while my arms grew greasy and red from burns due to the splatters of grease coming up from the fry-o-later.

At first McDonalds was just too much of everything. Too many buttons to learn, too much beeping, too many people screaming that I'd messed up their order. I was dubbed "the dumb blonde." Even better -- they had a very special nickname for me, a name that made its way into the computer and onto the schedule that hung in the back breakroom: Dippity Do.

"Hey Dippity," a manager would call over to me. "Can you make me four large fries?" Or, "Hey Dippity, can you run this order out to the car parked at the curb?"


I look back at all of this now and have to smile. By the time I left that McDonalds nearly four years later, I was a manager. I had won crew person of the year. I was one of their best and fastest workers, the one they put on drive thru at lunch time during the Saturday rush. Sometimes for old time's sake they'd put me back on the fry station, because no one could make them faster. "Dippity" was long gone from the dot matrix schedule print-out. Rather, they begged me not to quit.

I'm not saying Ethan's going to win any awards for playing soccer. But I have to look at myself...hold in my impatience when he doesn't "get" things...think about those days crying in the stockroom because a customer had called me "stupid" for not understanding his order...

And remember that accepting our kids on some levels starts with accepting ourselves, with all our flaws and foibles.

1 comment:

Floortime Lite Mama said...

What a wonderful post
I love what you said about accepting ourselves and our kiddos