The Stop Button

I have two young kids- a little boy, aged 3, and a little girl who is 5. My partner has threatened to withhold the chocolate if I use their real names, so I’ll call them Jack and Jill for the sake of this blog. Trust me, making sure I have chocolate is really best for everyone.

Besides being kids, and full of all the beans that come with being a small child, Jack and Jill are both high-functioning Autistic. Like many of those on the Autism Spectrum, my kids have things that they are absolutely obsessive about. Jack, for example, is obsessed with buttons- especially those “stop” buttons that you find on the bottoms of those chairs at the front of a public transit bus. You know the ones- they flip up to make space for strollers and wheelchairs.

Some of those buttons practically beg to be pushed. It’s as if they are purposely made brightly coloured and obnoxious enough to make obsessive kids want to push them… constantly. When you’re a little boy with a serious fixation, and your stroller is beside the biggest and brightest stop button that even your Mommy has ever seen, resisting the desire to push it is damned near impossible.

milovanderlinden_Nice_orange_glowy_buttonThe “button” in question is really more like a wall plaque. It’s about half a foot long by 3 inches tall, and is brilliant yellow with blue writing on it. There’s a blue wheelchair symbol on it.

After fighting to get Jack and Jill onto the bus one particular day, I paid my fare and looked around for a decent spot. To my horror, I saw there were buttons everywhere. My son was in his element. I swear I heard him giggle just then.
There was no other option- I pretty much had to take the nearest available spot. It wasn’t ideal; there were buttons everywhere! But, what can one frazzled pre-caffeinated mom do? I pushed the stroller up to the spot, flipped up all the chairs to make space for Jack, and… there it was:

The Stop Button.

It sat there, attached to the underside of the plastic chair, all brilliant yellow and beckoning. Instead of “Push Here to Stop Bus”, the glaring blue print might have read “Push Here to Annoy Mom”.

If ever a button begged to be pushed, it was this one- especially if you are a little boy with a serious fixation, and your stroller comes tantalizingly close to what it possibly the biggest and brightest stop button known to mankind.
I locked the wheels on Jack’s rolling chariot, sat Jill down on a seat that faced her brother, and plunked myself down next to her.

I looked at the button. I looked at Jack. As a mom, there’s a certain expression that my face gets whenever I know my kids are about to wreak havoc on my sanity. Lips tight, single eyebrow raised… you know the one. It’s the look that says:

“Don’t even think about it.”

My son has his own look, which I’m fairly sure he only pulls out when I’m about to tell him off for something. It’s a devilish little smile, with a glint in his big grey eyes, that says:

“Game on.”

With one hand on Jill’s shoulder as she snuggled up to me, and the other hand tightly grasping the first in what would be a long line of coffees that day, I didn’t have enough hands for the little boy whose hands are faster than mine anyway.

There isn’t enough time in the morning, between leaving home and getting to school, for the bus to pull into every single stop because my son just can’t keep his hands to himself. It’s like he’s possessed, whenever a button enters the equation. He can’t help himself. Some way, somehow, he will push that button. I tried grabbing his hand and holding it. I tried grabbing both hands. I tried grabbing both hands AND putting my leg up across my daughter’s lap (while managing to position my ankle in front of The Stop Button).

Jack sneaked his little leg out from under the stroller’s front tray and pressed the damned button with his foot. The look that came over my face when I realised I’d just been outwitted by a 3 year old was this one:

“Well, son of a bitch…”

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