Nate’s been taking the bus from Cooperstown to Oneonta lately. It’s part of our new strategy to get him more independent. Now don’t worry, he’s accompanied by his new aide. The ultimate goal is to have Nate be able to get on the bus in front of our house and get off in Oneonta. And, of course, return.
This will take a lot of training. He’s got to know when the bus comes, how much money to have, when to get off the bus and, most importantly, how to get back on for the trip home. Do I think he can do it? Yes. Am I scared out of my mind? Absolutely.
Readers will remember how long it took us to teach Nate to use the phone. Picking up became easy, calling out more difficult (and it still is). Nate’s ability to be in contact by cell is mostly one way, with us reaching out to him. Slowly, he’s getting the hang of calling. That he calls, infrequent though it is, dramatically lowers the anxiety we have about him eventually being out on his own. The simplest of requests, “Call us when you get there?” may take us a year or more to get into his repertoire.
I’m not that worried about his getting lost. I know that he has enough skills to take care of himself. While in New York this past September, I thought about what would happen if Nate got separated from us. In my heart I know that if I called him, and he picked up (still a bit of an if), I could get him to go to the nearest street corner, look up at the signs, tell us the intersection and wait for us to meet him there.
I am worried that Nate wouldn’t know what to do if someone approached him, whether with good intentions or bad. Nate isn’t conversational enough to put people at ease, and is completely lacking in savvy when it comes to difficult social situations. Stranger danger? It’s still a concern for us even with Nate at 22!
When we lived in Lincolnshire, Nate used to take the bus to school. He was mostly uncommunicative back then, but it worked. Granted a school bus is a more safe and controlled situation. Still, one time the bus came and left our cul-de-sac with no sign of Nate. Karen freaked, but tracked him down. He’d fallen asleep, unbeknownst to the driver, and ended up at the depot. He was soon retrieved.
That story has been on my mind lately, for obvious reasons. What would happen if Nate ended up out of touch and out of town? It’s that sort of thing that keeps me up at night and makes we waver between wanting to work toward his independence and keeping him safely home with us.