Controlling Behaviour

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by Fiona Russo

I’m not sure whether this is a special needs parenting issue, a mothering issue, or just a Fiona issue, but I’m guessing there’ll be some who can relate either way…

First, a confession:

My name is Fiona, and I am a control freak.

In my family, we have four children aged 16, 12, 6 and 5. 

They go to four different schools between them. 

The eldest has a part-time job and a lot of extra-curricular dance commitments, and no driving licence as yet. 

The youngest has profound disabilities and scores of therapy and medical appointments in any given year. 

The middle children are patient souls, but they still expect (and deserve) play dates, outings, sporting pursuits, and parental presence at their school performances and information evenings. 

My husband is very supportive and we approach everything with cooperation, but he has a full time and very demanding job, which we rely on for financial survival. 

I am a full time PhD candidate whose role is far more flexible and so I juggle most of the children’s commitments between days at the office. 

The logistics are tough.

As a result of the above insanity, my life tends to be measured in fifteen-minute increments. 

For example, in terms of distance from home, Miss 5’s schools are closest, followed by Miss 6, then comes my office, then finally Master 12 and Miss 16’s school. 

However, Miss 6’s school bell goes at 8.40am so she has to be the first cab off the rank. 

We go from there to the high school and drop off Master 12 and Miss 16. 

I then drive PAST my office on the way back to Miss 5’s school (two streets from our home, where we started) to drop her and her wheelchair and walker off at the 9am bell before heading to work. 

Afternoons are easier because the older children are able to use buses to make their way home, but you get the idea. It’s a fine art.

Now to the incident that made me realise how tightly I hold these reigns.

Michael (wonderful husband) was returning from an overnight trip with Master 12. 

Miss 16 was in the city at a dance rehearsal, and Miss 6 was due at a sleepover with Nanna that night. Miss 5 was asleep. 

We had arranged that Michael would detour on his trip home to collect Miss 16, and I would take Miss 6 along to the grandparents’ house when Miss 5 woke up. 

Simple, right?

Well… Michael had an easy run with the traffic on his journey and found himself running almost an hour early. 

He decided to come home, surprise his loving wife, and drop off Master 12 (who had had enough of the car) before heading into the city for Miss 16. 

He drove into the driveway and opened the electric garage door. 

I flew out and my first words weren’t ‘hello darlings, I missed you’… they were ‘what are you doing here?!’. 

Not such a nice homecoming, but I honestly thought he might have driven home on auto pilot and forgotten about our arrangement. 

Even when he explained, I was still furious. Why would he change our careful plans?!  

Why would he come home only to go out again in the same direction he’d just come from?!  Now I was going to have to fix it! 

I would have to change my plans!  I couldn’t fit it all in! 

Miss 16 would be late for work! I would have to call my mother in law to change the plans again! 

The world would tilt on its axis and all would be lost!

If that sounds crazy, it might be because it was. 

I am so tightly scheduled, I don’t know how to relinquish control of anything. Every item is intrinsically linked to every item and a simple change upsets the careful balance (which of course nobody understands like I do), so what is a girl to do?

My name is Fiona, and I am a control freak.

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