Oh, boy. Get ready. Because this week's guest writer, Melissa Welin of Basically FX, holds nothing back! I am in love with her take on how we, as parents of children with special needs, are completely prepared for whatever challenges a doomsday might bring. Talk about seeing the silver lining! I wish I'd written this, it is SO funny, but I get to do the next best thing - to post it for your reading pleasure.
Bonnie asked me to contribute to the Fragile X Writers series and I was so excited. But I've been reading all the amazing contributions, and gotten progressively less so. I was feeling the pressure to come up with something touching, inspirational, heartwarming or educational and fuh-reaking the fuck out! Then I remembered...Bonnie knows me, she isn't expecting any of that! Phew! Now that the pressure is off I can finish this up and stop wrecking her editorial timeline.
Anyway, I have a topic that has been floating around in my brain for a while. Have you seen the show "Doomsday Preppers" on NatGeo? I'm a little obsessed with it. The premise is that they follow these [nut jobs] well-prepared citizens as they demonstrate the steps they've taken to prepare for a worldwide "Doomsday." They all have a different idea as to what will finally tip us over the brink but they are all convinced that we're going over. So cheerful!
Intially I watched the show and thought, "Holy shit, we are SO going to die." Seriously, these people devote hours and hours every day to "prepping" and here I am munching on popcorn while I watch them run around getting ready to survive the end of civilization as we know it. Then I thought, "Meh, I need more popcorn."
After giving it some thought I realized that as parents of a child with Fragile X, we have more than enough training to kick some doomsday ass. Really, for the last 6 years, 9 months, 1 week and a handful of days Eric and I have been in survival training 24/7, right? Let's explore.
There are a few major areas that "Preppers" worry about...
Food & Water
The Unexpected (NatGeo refers to it as the "X factor" pretty funny, eh?)
Food & Water
We have learned through painful experience over the years to not ever, ever, under pains of running snot and melting down, run out of either snacks or drinks. I can pack a purse with enough snacks and liquids to last for a day, give me a backpack and we are good for a week. AND we are like squirrels, we have stashes of drinks and food all over the place. Caleb is a tremendous help here. Lift a pillow off the couch? Cup of juice! In the cabinet holding the entertainment components? Hopefully it's a cup of water this time and not milk, that sucked. Lift Caleb's laptop off his desk? Chips! Under the couch? Cheerios! I'm pretty sure we could feed a family of four for a year on the goldfish crackers hiding in the truck.
Shelter (This is a two-parter, you need to be able to hole up in your house *and* you need a bug out location)
One winter a few years back we stayed in the house so much that when spring rolled around Caleb cried EVERY TIME we tried to leave the house. We can do months holed up, piece of cake. In fact, it's sort of the preferred state for me too...there isn't much trouble with social anxiety when you play hermit!
For a bug out location...well, first, let's start with the fact that we can evacuate any place, any time. I have left my parents' house so fast on occasion that I'm pretty sure we broke the sound barrier. If having a child with Fragile X has taught me anything it is this, be prepared to GTFO. Always.
As to where we can go? Caleb has a few preferred locations and he keeps us constantly informed where those place are. On the way to school? He reminds us we could always go to Grammy's house! Heading out for a day of running errands? He never fails to let us know that Holly's house would be much preferred. And if we are ever in doubt about how to get to either...he knows exactly which lefts, rights and exits will take us to Grammy's house (with a stop at Sonic for chicken, of course) and though Holly's house seems like it might be a little trickier, given the multiple states between us, he can get us there with one word (heard over and over and over and over these days) - "Southwest."
Weaponry -- We don't do guns. I mean we have Nerf but they don't even sting, plus we're not actually ALLOWED to fire it under pains of running snot and melting down. The darts MUST stay loaded in the gun JUST SO at all times. FYI, "JUST SO" is the way I loaded it when it came out of the package. Caleb has been known to take people down with a well-aimed football or basketball to the back of the head though, so I feel pretty secure in this area.
Special training --We are parents, that's enough, isn't it? It means we have eyes in the back of our heads and we can sniff out the difference between just passing gas and holy cwap we need to find a bathroom NOWNOWNOW. Our well-honed senses mean there is no sneaking up on (or away from) us. We have a child who lacks "impulse control" which means we have mad search and recover skills. We can stop a speeding child with a grab of the collar, I don't even have to look anymore. We can easily carry 70 lbs of "limp noodle" which is the equivalent to dead lifting approximately 800 lbs.
Security enhancements -- We have a motion sensor that flashes our bedroom lights as soon as anyone over 2 feet tall walks into the hallway. Our sleep is so light at this point that a flashing light has us up and yelling "GET BACK IN BED NOW!" within seconds. If I look anything like I feel at that hour, I'm guessing I can swing a pretty mean Cerberus impersonation. Oh, also, we have that little shit of a dog who barks at his own damn farts. No one is sneaking into, or out of, this house.
And now we get to my favorite...
The "X factor"
How do I do in a medical emergency? Broken teeth, blood draws, x-rayed extremities...please, this is just too easy. NEXT!
Communication -- After over 4 1/2 years of silence we perfected non-verbal communication. I can tell my darling boy to STOP IT with a slash of my hand and a glare...and he listens. We also have enough ASL skills to solve any snack or bathroom emergency from across the room. I can also beg my husband to please, please let's go...my head is killing me.
Other skills -- They mention bartering, that's pretty much like bargaining right? I am the queen of bargaining, "Just please, please, please stop and I will give you ANYTHING!" "If you don't walk through that door right this second I swear I will..." Ahem. That's sure to be useful.
If just being a bossy and not-so-patient mom isn't effective, I'm pretty sure I have enough "on the job" experience to barter services like PT, OT, ST, potty training or educational/general developmental advice.
So, go ahead, bring on doomsday. It's nothing we haven't dealt with already! Anyone else want some popcorn?