Cooler weather in Koeln - toll! I am off today on a short trip - I am going to Third's school to deliver her locker shelves and assorted stuff in advance of her first day of school tomorrow. She has so much that it is hard to give it all to the bus aides (on buses delivering special-needs kids there is the bus driver, and then there are bus aides, and bus aides are even-tempered adults familiar with the quirks of special-needs kids/adults and who do all the peace-keeping, safety stuff, and general happy-making with the riders so the bus driver can concentrate on the actual driving) - between bus wheelchair ramps and stuff, they have enough to do.
Which brings up a batch of memories... when Third was younger, it was simply impossible for her to stay in her bus seat. That - and she would unbuckle the seat belts of simply everybody around her. One of Third's challenges is she has extremely (ahem) "busy fingers" as we call them. Once Third unbuckled Fourth's car seat during a family ride and I didn't catch it - and Hubby ended up having to make a screeching stop in traffic to avoid an accident... well, Fourth was right behind the driver's seat, and the whole car seat just tipped forward - the top edge of the car seat (it was one of those toddler models with the very tall backs) ended up resting against the headrest of the driver's seat and Fourth just hung there, under the car seat, limbs dangling, and wondering what the hell just happened.
Third also had this really annoying habit of opening car doors at highway speeds. Once, she did that when I had all four in the car (you should know that between the oldest and the youngest there is only a six year age spread, so back then I had the equivalent of a toddler, a very young Third, and two barely-older young children), and I was so completely incensed due to fear shock (coupled with the seat belt trick...) that I pulled off the road, walked to her car door and slapped her hand. It was then that I discovered (thanks to hubby, upon hearing the story) that our car doors had levers that you could manipulate that would allow a door to be opened only from the outside. So for ages any adult guests riding in the back seat of our cars would have to wait for someone to open the door for them.
Sooooo, knowing about her aversion to rider safety, Third ended up being placed in a harness on school bus rides. I tell you, this was one Houdini-worthy contraption. The material was the same stuff as heavy-duty seat belt strapping. Sheep wool across the shoulders for comfort, massive zipper up the back so Third couldn't undo the thing, and big 'ole industrial D-rings sewn into it in back at that particular no-can-reach point where the shoulder blades are so nobody can fiddle behind themselves and unclip. The bus has a few dedicated seats that have bench straps installed in just the right way so a person wearing the harness can just sit down and the bus aide can clip the D-rings into clips, and voila - secured human.
Because a kid is being truly "restrained" in such a way, law over here requires a doctor's prescription for the harness, which our pediatrician very gladly gave to me at the beginning of each school year. Third wore that thing for years, and I was glad for it. When the bus drivers (we have had the same bus driver-aide combination for YEARS, and they learn all the special little tricks and personalities of all their riders...) told me the school transportation head honchos had had a conference about Third and decided that it was time to transition her out of the harness, I initially refused. They gave me a little more time, and just did it anyway. I was kind of pissed, but then, I am sort of known at Third's school for being resistant to change where Third is concerned...
It did work out. Each day, when Third's bus arrived at the end of our country driveway, bus driver and aide (they are tight friends in real life as well, so collusion is easy for them) would beam at me and say stuff like "Alison did a terrific job staying in her seat for the WHOLE trip!" and Third, hearing the compliment, would beam back... how could I be nasty to them in front of Third when she was so obviously proud of herself?? That - and she totally got bribed with chewing gum by those two... Today Third stays in her seat without any further help, so it did work out very well in spite of the mama, and we all still have a wonderful relationship.
"and totally payed through the nose"
a little correction - great use of the expression, but "payed" is spelled "paid". I am absolutely sure you know that, but I couldn't resist pointing that out today.
So, Bess, I'm off. I wish I could be walking the streets of Koeln with you - I miss Europe in general, and that sounds just wonderful today. See ya soon!