18 Jul 2008

Raider of the Brown Package

I've had better mornings.

There was a knock at the door, and I spied the postman through the glass. Thinking he had a parcel or something to be signed, I opened the door and saw Duncan standing alongside him.

I had seen him only a few minutes earlier. The front door was locked, but he had obviously gone out unnoticed through the garage, left open after Lady fed her guinea pigs.

Postie asked, "Is he your son?" I was tempted, but honesty won, "Yes. Is everything all right?"

"He was trying to get into my van. He was trying to get a parcel"

Oh shit. Look sorry, I know I don't swear here (often) but sometimes it's apt. He must have been scooting up and down the street until he noticed the van parked at the top of the road.

(Duncan muttered, "Get Ertl break-down train in brown parcel.")

"Oh no, I am so sorry! Was anything damaged?

"No, but he wouldn't listen to me when I told him not to."

"Look, he's autistic, he didn't understand. I'm really sorry."

"Now if anyone sees him getting into the van they could call the police. The police would get involved."

What! I've just told you he's autistic, he's a little kid, he thought there was a toy in there for him, you're a big man, you can keep him out. And surely you lock the bloody van when you're not in it! Get the police involved! Like they have nothing better to do than write up reports on small disabled boys.

"I understand. I'm sorry."

That's it, just suck it up. I should have known for sure where he was, the little Houdini.

"Just talk to him will you, try to explain that he can't do that."

"Yes I will, sorry."

When he went I glowered at the child and gave him a stern talking to. I know he likes post vans; I've seen him look up Google images for Royal Mail van. But it was still an unexpected transgression, not something I'd known I'd have to prevent.

He was very worried at the mention of the police, which he'd overheard and asked repeatedly that the "police not take Duncan away." I reassured him that he was safe, that the police help children, and they only take away very bad big men and women.

I was glad to be getting out that afternoon. I took the children, including cousin A. on the train to see their Granda and G in Belfast. I dumped them on the grandparents (such good people as they are) and snuck out to meet Gordon for a late lunch. Oh the bliss of being away from all the little darlings for a while. We went to Japanese place called Sakura and had fantastic sushi for next to nothing. Lovely!

Meanwhile, the children had a BBQ and went to the park, although Duncan refused to leave the car having decided that he needed to go to the toy shop.

Home later, to a puppy delighted to see her pack return.


d@\/ e said...

I'm wondering do Royal Mail have any disability awareness training for their staff.It looks like they might need it.

Bree said...

Oh you poor thing. Id have had a hard time keeping my mouth shut with that ignorant postman.

Sharon said...

Perhaps Dave. The guy may have no idea what "autism" means. I do feel responsible in that Duncan was out for a few minutes without my knowledge.

Bree, hi! Nice to see you about again. Are you settling back in to NI life after your adventures? Come over to see us some day.

Re Postie, yeah well I thought mentioning the police was going too far. Perhaps mail staff have an obligation to make a police report if any non-staff go inside the van. But from what I understand, Duncan didn't actually go in the van, just tried to.

Anyway, I said all the right things (I think) and kept my real thoughts for here!

Maddy said...

Ooo yes. I can get so unexpectedly complicated can't it.

I won't bore you with the details but my youngest stated calling 911 [999] and they duly came. It was the same [ish] kind of thing. Parent explains that the child is autistic but the message doesn't really go through.

Who could resist those lovely red vans!

Best wishes

Sharon said...

Phew Maddy. I'm scared of US cops. All those guns! (OK Northern Ireland cops are armed too but seem to use them a whole lot less, nowadays.)

Duncan pressed 999 on the phone a year ago. They called back from the control centre and the woman gave out to me for not looking after my child properly. She asked that I "move the telephone out of his reach."

Ha! As if that was possible, she hadn't met my wee spider-boy.

And yep, the red vans must be inviting, all those potential parcels of ebay loot!

Bev said...

I'm thinking d@Ve is right about the awareness training. You know what would really be cool? Because I bet there is a Royal Mail guy or two who grew up with a similar fascination for delivery vans and brown packages...If one of them could take Duncan out on a short run. I can just imagine him helping deliver the packages and having that experience of pride in being responsible for the deliveries. Seeing how things really work from start to finish can be really helpful, and the drivers would learn a lot from Duncan, too. Of course, he'd need you or another family member or trusted adult to watch over the project...

Anyway, that's just a little fantasy scenario that popped into my head and I thought I'd share it.

Sharon said...

Thanks for sharing the nice fantasy scenario Bev.

Perhaps when he's older, if he's still interested, I will contact Royal Mail about the possibility of tagging along some way. Right now, he's too focused on those endless parcels and all the nice things they might contain for him. The temptation would be so strong.

therextras said...

"Anyway, I said all the right things (I think) and kept my real thoughts for here!"

I think you handled the whole thing perfectly - and were then rewarded with a lovely lunch with your husband.

No matter the age of the child, no matter the mild indescretion, why make more of it with someone who has official capacity? Not the moment to provide disability advocacy, but perfect for the perfect teaching you gave Duncan afterward - reinforcing that police are good and occasion to remind him that some packages belong to others.

Have you ever had a better afternoon? Barbara

d@\/ e said...

I believe any working with the public should have some training on disability so if they do encounter someone with a disability they know how to respond correctly.

BTW, you've won an award :-)

Bree said...

Hiya Sharon. We've been home a month now and Ive spent the majority of it bored out of my brains on bed rest. We dont have a car at the moment either so Ive gone from roaming the world to being a prisoner in my own home. Ah well. Will all be worth it when the baby is born.

Sharon said...

Thanks Barbara, and I did have a lovely afternoon.

Dave, I wonder how much training the police especially have had in understanding disability. There is a risk that autistic people (in particular) because they look "normal" may not react to instructions appropriately because of communication difficulties or being stressed and overloaded when in a difficult situation.

Oh and thanks for the award.

How long to go Bree?

Bree said...

Im 19 weeks. So almost half way.

Heidi said...

Ooh! Duncan sounds so sweet!!

I totally agree with d@\/e. The guy sounded like an idiot. Who doesn't know about Autistic kids in this day and age? Maybe he doesn't care. What a moron.

Heidi said...

Maddy: One would think that 911 would *especially* understand what an autistic kid is. You know, since they're medical professionals an' all. At least, I *think* they are. If they aren't, they're around that same line of work.

Sharon said...

Hi Heidi. Duncan is sweet and I say that with no objectivity at all.

I think many or perhaps most people don't know much about autism these days. One of my most important jobs every day is to take my children out and about (aut and about) and expose them to others and others to them, and educate and inform when necessary. There's an opportunity most days.