Keeping calm in a sea of chaos

I’m waiting for the Van…we’re never early, we’re always late, the first thing you learn is you just have to wait. I hope at least one reader gets this reference.

The Van, that takes The Little Fella to school, arrives between 8.12am and 8.19am.

My wife, or me, or both of us, stand, staring out of the lounge window, scanning the road for its arrival.

It’s an important job.

When the Van arrives, there is a palpable surge in adrenaline throughout our household.

However, no matter how ready we are, no matter what tone we use, no matter what we have spent the morning preparing, we are never quite ready enough to leave the house, with everything that is needed.

Leaving the house is still scary, and needs to be postponed, delayed, or at least turned into a drama.

This daily drama is in fact part of the routine.

Terry, the Van Escort used to be a butcher and has an infinite and encyclopaedic knowledge on sausages. He holds supermarket sausages in very low regard.

We don’t know the name of the driver, but we know he has a penchant for Smooth FM. Once, there was a different driver. He listend to Capital. This caused some consternation.

This short window is one of the most stressful parts of the day.

It’s usually over in minutes.

Today was different.

“Different” rarely bodes well.

Today the Van had not arrived by 8.19am.

It still wasn’t here by 8.29am.

My wife and I began to consider the implications to our own schedules.

We have very very deliberately built “margins” into our life for just an occurrence as this.

We have learnt that we must be flexible und unflappable, at least externally, because The Little Fella can’t.

Corporal Jones would be a rubbish Foster Carer.

I’m an ‘out loud processor’ and my natural inclination is to articulate my thoughts.

Have we missed the Van? Is the Van simply running late? Will the Van be coming at all? Has Terry, on realising that offal rarely swears at you, gone back to being a butcher?

However, I’ve learnt to be quieter and reflect internally.

Sargent Wilson would probably have been a good Foster Carer. His calm insouciance would have been reassuring to a deregulating kid.

If the Little Fella thought we did not know what was going on and expressed this audibly, a tricky situation would be made much worse.

His hyper vigilance was already kicking in as he sensed the normal pattern of events was not being played out.

He began to castrophise. The other ‘Van kids’ popped up on a variety of Social Media Feeds, each adding just a little bit of fuel to the bonfire of uncertainty.

No one had been picked up. Theories began to circulate. Crashes, fires, government shut downs, the fuel crisis, Brexit, COVID, Bojo and rumours of ‘it’s nearly Christmas’ were all put in the mix.

You’ve got to have a Plan. And you’ve got to have a back up plan. In fact, you need several back up plans, and you need to make it look as if whichever plan you go for, was the first plan all along.

“Today, I will drive you to school. You can be in charge of the radio.”

We have found that offering some control helps with regulation.

We got in the car and we drove to school.

We listened to Radio 4.

We listened to a discussion on Wind Turbines.

Who’d have thought that the dulcet tones of The Today Programme would have had a calming effect?

We arrived at school a bit late.

I arrived at work a bit late.

I’m not sure how he’ll get home, but that’s not until this afternoon.

There’s plenty to worry about before then.