On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vehicle travel

Nancy Thomas talks about using some strict rules for vehicles. I've listened to her teaching tapes over and over and when I get to that part when she talks about vehicles, I always pause and think to myself, Gosh, I just don't know if I can do all of that!  But I don't like to be outdone and I especially don't like to do things halfway.  So I've come up with some concessions to her suggestions and I'm wondering if any of you do the same types of things?  I got some of these ideas from the travel rules at the RTC and the rest as been my own trouble shooting.

The children have assigned seats in the van, they have particular doors in the van by which they are allowed to enter, they have particular orders in which they are allowed to enter and exit. Violations of these rules earn 10 pushups.

The reason is I was tired of the screaming, hitting, kicking, yelping, pounding on glass and mostly, to protect WG who was always getting the brunt of Sissy and Aspie Boy's wrath.

Here's how it goes. On the passenger side door, Sissy enters first and sits in the way back bench seat followed by AB after he closes the door (he is rewarded through our ticket system for closing the door because it always has to be him and he hates doing it) WG enters from the driver's side door and sits in the middle bench seat in front of Sissy and directly behind me. I close her door.

Exiting, AB gets out first through the passenger side door, followed by Sissy. WG gets out on the driver side door. AB and WG are responsible for door closes. If we are in a parking lot, all kids must wait on their side of the vehicle, hands to their sides until I say they can come. If we are at home, AB is the "key master" and is handed the house key before anyone else gets out of the van so he can be the first one into the house (it's THAT important to him). He is ticket rewarded for this "job" as well.

Why? Why so much effort?


Our children were never safe in the van. Not even for one mile of travel. I had to pull over so many times I couldn't go anywhere. So I didn't. And that doesn't work either. Thus, the travel rules. Has it helped? You bet your butt it has! What a HUGE difference. We still have flare ups, I still have to pull over but that happens so infrequently now, it's negligible.

Other trouble-shooting things we do:
1. MP3 player for both AB and Sissy. The reasoning is we got tired of them screaming (I don't mean being mad, I mean primal-rage screaming from the gut, full-on rage, adrenaline driven, fight or flight responses). And it would be over music. Uh? No. That's not safe. MP3 players nipped that in the butt

2. music for adults. I turn up my tunes in the front. If the children like the music, they can turn off their MP3 player and ask for me to put the music in the back. All must be in agreement. If the song is over, MP3 players go back on. WG usually likes my tunes and since she's never the one with the music issue, I often put on the stuff she likes up front.

3. Singing to the music. No. Never. Drives AB batty (again, primal-rage, kicking, etc. NOT SAFE) If the children like a particular song, they can take the CD into the house when we return home and listen to it ad nauseum in their rooms, singing as loudly as they like. Vans? No.

4. Movies. I pick 'em. Period. And only for long trips. We bought a headphone jack splitter so all three children can wear headphones to hear the movie and The Dad and I can hear our tunes or talk up front.

5. Toys. No. Never. One stuffed doll or toy for trips to doctors that make the children feel anxious - reasoning is the doll/toy is a comfort item and self-soothing. Otherwise, no. Besides, they clutter up the vehicle.

6. Food. Yes. But they are responsible to clean it up. I am a drill sergeant about it. If they have left the vehicle and not gathered their trash, i will not move, I will not pass go, i will not collect $200 until I make sure they have cleaned up. Period. And that means EVERYONE must wait for the offending person to do as asked because no one is safe without supervision.

7. Talking. Limited. AB can yammer incessantly and it drives us all insane. Plus, he demands responses. That doesn't work when I drive. "no talking, put on your MP3 player" is heard a lot in my van.

Disclaimer: I really wish our family could be loosey-goosey with these things but we've been unsafe on the road far too many times for me to not have very strict rules. The IFI team and I have reviewed them many times to tweak them and get it just right. They are fully aware of our plans and have given me a rousing thumbs-up. Would it be cool to think we could be like a "normal" family and get along in the vehicle on road trips and the like, even to the grocery store? Sure. For half a second I let that idea play out in my head and then I surrender it. There's no point. You must remember that my van is just a few feet shy of being the proverbial "Short Bus". If bus drivers of impaired persons can have assigned seats and strict rules so all riders are safe, than so can I.

So, what have YOU done to make your vehicle safe? I'm always open to new ideas!


Mama Drama Times Two said...

We've had to pull over too many times as well. So now we take separate vehicles on long trips - Yeah, it is expensive driving two cars in terms of gas and tolls - but PRICELESS in terms of sanity and our ability AT ANY TIME to drive the offending little bugger home from the beach or restaurant or wherever we are if they choose to have a meltdown/be unsafe.

Kerrie said...

Ok, so this is very timely since my daughter had a what's-become-rare violent rage in the car on the way home today frightening EVERYONE and seriously impairing my ability to drive. Like someone could have gotten VERY hurt and I had no idea what to do. We have most of the car rules you have. I am not new at this. But I do not know what. to. do when we are half-way home and she's pounding the crap out of the other children. Get out and make her do push-ups? Not when she's that non-compliant. She'd run away (she's seven). And then I'd have to choose between chasing her across a field or staying with the other three. Would you share what you do when a rage (or whatever) catches you by surprise and there is no compliance to be found? Thanks. Seriously. Thanks.

wilisons said...

Love your car rules and hope we never need them :-)

I have 2. Both are still in car seats or boosters. Little one is a petite 3 and will need a 5 point for a LONG time to come which should help since she can't move far with it.

We have a 6 CD player, 2 CD picks from each child and one for mom. We use oldest chid's CD, then youngest, then mine. If you don't like the current music, wait a few minutes and your CD will come on. No DVD player in our car but I will be buying 2 portable ones for our upcoming vacation to save the peace. Its the same price as one with 2 screens anyway.

Food, only on long trips or with a packed activty night and need for take out on the way.

The best part of car trips are the conversation. That is usually where my RADish decides to talk or is coorperative in peeling back the onion layers of behavior. Oh, an also asking the questions that are just doozies. The best (keep in mind I am a SMC through adoption but we have friends who choice other routes to single parenthood) "Mom, the ladies who chose to be moms alone and didn't adopt, how DID they get a baby in their tummies." That was hard to answer for my 7 year old without TMI.

GB's Mom said...

The only problem traveler I have ever had is MK. She is so bad we drug here before going any distance over an hour (4 mg Ativan). Now that she is pregnant, we just don't travel with her.

peacechaser said...

I have been lurking awhile-but hey i have no radishes and we had many of these rules just for MY sanity and yes everyones safety.

Little Wonder said...

Love the new layout! Piece/Peace--quilts!! YEAH!

We don't have many rules for the car but B is my only RAD and he's a pretty good traveller. He's raged a few times throwing items (usually his own clothing that he pulls off) or kicking my seat, but I haven't felt threatened yet. We did keep him in his 5PT as long as we could.

Each child has assigned seating anyways as designated by the appropriate booster/carseat or no child restraint (Miss M is 10).

We never will watch movies in the car as movies/TV are escalating type media for my B when not properly supervised. The can bring games and toys. They each have a laptop toy that does spelling and simple math that they like to travel with.

We do books on tape/CD, though for long trips though and the entire family does enjoy those! (But if you get BABE on tape, be ready for the BIOTCH word as in female dog, but we had some 'splaining to do when we listened to that one, lol).

We do sing together, Dad has his favorite "Hole in the bottom of the sea" song that everyone tries to sing along with but no one but DAD really knows that words, lol.

I don't know---so far the car has been one place that hasn't been too difficult to deal with. Yet.

I'm glad you have rules!! Rules rock!