Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Traffic Circle in the Road

What to write, what to write...

The Writers Island prompt for this week is the fork in the road. I could do the obvious and write about how my daughter is standing at a fork in the road. One side leads to a standard, mainstream kindergarten class with 35 (!) children and an excellent but very overworked teacher, the other side to a special needs kindergarten, with smaller class sizes, therapists, and support services, but special ed. I could tell you that I enrolled her in the regular one this morning, all the while knowing that it will most likely not come to pass but wanting to reserve a place just in case something goes wrong (or even better, right. That's not likely though. Sigh.). I could write how I bumped into the mainstream kindergarten teacher this morning and had to blink back tears when she asked if Maya would be joining her next fall. Or how after hearing my explanation she then reassured me that the teacher of the local "communications/language" kindergarten is very good, and told me that she has several children from there that come to her class two days a week. I could tell you how I die a little inside each time I think about putting an intellectually gifted child, MY intellectually gifted child, into a special needs class. I could tell you about how the experts all agree that this is where she needs to be right now, so that she can focus on advancing rather than on surviving, and then hopefully (oh god how I hope) return to the mainstream track for first grade.

I could tell you all of those things, but the truth is that I really don't want to dwell on them again this evening. I want to stick my head in the sand for a few minutes and think of other things. Simpler things.

So I'm going to tell you instead about the traffic circle in the road. Traffic circles are things found in roads, just like forks, so I figure that's close enough.

Eight years ago my husband and I took a trip to Thailand. (The best vacation we've ever had, hands down. I would return tomorrow if I could, but that's a topic for another day.) So anyway, Thailand...

When Jay and I travel we try to get off the beaten path and leave the teeming hordes of tourists behind, at least in between visiting the sites that have drawn all the hordes to them in the first place like culture-starved moths to a flame. To do this in Thailand, we decided to do something that very few tourists dare - we rented a car.

In most countries this might not be considered a major feat of daring, but the rules of the road in Thailand make driving a bit more challenging than usual. For starters, they drive on the left side of the road. Next, the roads are fairly narrow and filled with all manner of vehicles - from trucks and buses down to mopeds carrying entire families, to horsecarts, bicycles, pedestrians, and the more than occasional chicken.


On our first day with the car we were managing, barely, to avoid the carsbicyclesmopedsgoatschickenpedestrians, and even the pickup truck full of gold-plated Buddha statues (yes, really), but as we approached the outskirts of Ayuthaya we realized that the worst was still to come - a traffic circle. If you've never driven on the "wrong" side of the road let me assure you that entering a traffic circle is a special little corner of hell, and of course it was my turn to drive. As I neared the circle I began chanting to myself: go left, go left, go left, go left, go left... I reached the circle and miracle of miracles managed to turn left into it, ironically the "right" direction, and looked in front of me to find...




Yes, right in the middle of the road stood a whole group of elephants. Elephants! In the road! No one told me there would be elephants in the road!!

I managed to stop the car well short of them, but really, elephants? Don't you think that's just a bit above and beyond?...

(They weren't actually wild elephants running loose through Ayuthaya. A second look showed that they were trained elephants getting ready to carry a bunch of Japanese tourists around town. Apparently, tame elephants and their mahouts don't follow traffic laws any better than anyone else in Thailand. No, this is not my photo (I was too busy trying not to hit them to take out my camera), and I don't even think it's an Asian elephant. It's courtesy of FreeFoto.com. It was free, don't be picky.)

33 comments:

grace said...

I 'm happy there are no camels roaming around the streets of Dubai! I didn't know they drive on the left in Thailand, which is like how we drive in Japan. Here in Dubai, it's on the right and on my first day of driving along, I noticed that I was not breathing.

gautami tripathy said...

In India, you will see cattles, Elephants and camels on the road..

Thinking aloud said...

so the thailand trip was 'elephant'ful :D

and i do hope you make peace with your self regarding maya...i pray that things work out teh way you want...chin up...:)

keith hillman said...

That took me right back a couple of years! Like you I rented a car in Thailand and found it a pretty hairy experience. Driving on the left wasn't a problem because we do in the UK too.

If you really want an experience try driving in India! Camels, cycles,pedestrians, cars coming toward you in the wriong lane! Fun!

paisley said...

it a wonder they don't get spooked and stampede the cars!!!!!

i wish i had some words of hindsight or wisdom on the situation you find yourself in with your daughter... i just know that we spend so much more time in this life as an adult,, and somehow,, those early childhood type life situations end up such a small portion of our collective experience,, that i do believe,, whatever happens,, it will be a lot harder for you as an adult to adjust to it than it ever was for your daughter..

angie said...

Still laughing. Elephants? Glad you didn't write that you hit an elephant. With a Japanese tourist on it's back. That would be bad.......ha ha. Loved this entry.

Mel said...

Traffic circle - I have never heard that before! i take it you mean roundabouts?? But then again I m not so sure LOL Do roundabouts not exist in Israel and/or the States (or am I being really really dim)

Robin said...

Yes Mel, roundabouts. Except in normal countries they go the other way 'round ;-).

Mel said...

Cheeky monkey LOL I'll have you know that among the great countries that drive on the correct side of the road are Japan, Australia, India and much of Africa!! Indeed, 74 countries drive correctly, about one third of the world's population drive MY way LOL

Google is such a wonderful thing!!!

Domestic Spaz said...

I'd love to hear more about your vacation in Thailand. Someday The Man and I will have exotic and cultural vacations and we'd like to be prepared. :)

Hugs to you and Maya.

Jolyn said...

Oh, my goodness. I stumbled across you finally through a comment on Poppy Fields, though I know I have seen you comment on Planet Nomad as well...
My three-year-old is being newly diagnosed as "special needs" because of his speech, or lack thereof. Besides googling new vocabulary (apraxia?) I am already trying not to worry about this getting "nipped in the bud" and bleeding into marring a successful start in kindergarten for this otherwise smart, adorable, wonderful little guy of mine...

Oh, and I desperately want to visit SE Asia someday, too. SOON.

Just Jen said...

ok, first, as a mom having a child that's gifted and special needs (dual exceptionalities in our case) I don't blame ya one iota for how ya feeling! grrr at the system!
fyi, there's a website for giftedness and it's international, maybe it'll give you some ideas!
http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/

second, that story is absolutely hilarious! forgive me but all I could picture is mr. bean in his yellow car in the circle, going around and around....i wonder what he would do with elephants? LOL

Rambler said...

hehheh the elephant story was really funny :D

Robin said...

Maya's specific issues are different than your son's Jolyn, but I certainly can empathize and identify with what you're facing right now. E-mail me if you need a sympathetic ear.

Space Mom said...

Special education means "tailored for your child" not "classes for dummies"

You're doing good by her!

Richard said...

Best of luck with Maya's education! And though I've never been to Thailand I've spent years in India, and the roads sound quite the same. I would never drive, and one day my driver told me there were three things you needed to drive in India, "Good horn, good brakes, and good luck."

Preethi said...

First Some **hugs** to you.. As a parent myself I can imagine what you must be going through.. God give you courage!!

As for the elephants on the road.. lol!! You do need to take a trip to India .. you will be in for many more surprises.. and adventures..

At the crossroad

Nancy said...

There have been a couple "round-abouts" placed in my area and I am still getting used to them.

I can't imagine coming "hood to trunk" (snicker) with an elephant!

Herb Urban said...

I'm amazed you had the presence of mind to take snap a picture. Reading your elephant story makes me grateful I don't drive, and all we ever get in the road is an occasional deer.

Mary Timme said...

I'm sure the elephant was special and thrown in just for you, the tourist. LOL! How hairy is that! You know, of course, you have a picture of an African Elephant and I'd doubt that in Thailand. We have a friend living there now! It is exciting to hear from her.

UL said...

Robin, hope Maya gets to join the mainstream quick, its a great burden you carry, but she is a beautiful, intelligent and loving child and she has beautiful parents, so she will do great. You will do great too...this is just a phase, so stay strong.

Now elephants...my favs. I hail from Kerala, the southern part of India, a place full of elephants, you could see them on the roads all the time...they're beautiful creatures...isnt it a wonderful experience even though at the time - it scared the living daylights out of you?

tumblewords said...

A free picture is always nice! Grin. I love this post - reminds me of the roundabouts I've driven in Europe and the narrow roads full of everybodies in Mexico! Always a challenge to remember. Good luck to you and Maya.

Marja said...

First I felt sad Your story of your child reminded me of mine. He was 7 and they said that he was not developing; special education for him. I refused and to make a long story short He is now 13 and achieves above average. Than I laughed seeing you driving in the chaos and than elephants. Great

paris parfait said...

And now do you occasionally come across sheep in the road? I've come across them quite often in the Middle East. Driving on roundabouts takes some getting used to! And you were quite brave to rent a car in Thailand.

Am so sorry to hear about the school issue. Hoping and praying the best opportunity will present itself!

Jo said...

I'm sorry about Maya.....but the experts are no doubt right and she will blossom and be able to move back for 1st grade. As for the elephants......cool.

Chris said...

What a great story and well written, brings a whole new meaning to traffic jam.

Good luck with your daughter -- I have one too...hold him back? Throw him in the deep end?...all the while praying that he learns to use the toilet before I have to make a choice...

Rob Kistner said...

May the situation with your daughter be blessed with, what will prove to be, the ideal solution.

Elephants... good golly gunga! Your description was most humorous -- LMAO... ;)

sister AE said...

traffic circles are bad enough without critters in them - especially critters bigger than your car!

Crafty Green Poet said...

I hope things go well for your daughter.

Your story about the elephants made me smile, I travelled through Zambia once, elephants everywhere round the road...

Anonymous said...

You need to keep reminding yourself that Maya's special needs gan has nothing to do with her intellect. It's not a gan for slow or retarded children- it's simply tailored to meet the needs of "normal" kids who need more work in the language/comm department. She'll still be taught the same things as kids in a "regular" gan, just with added help for her specific problems. Believe me, you'll come to love the fact that she's in such a small gan with so much focus on her as opposed to a big gan where she might get lost in the shuffle.

tickledpink.nicole said...

First, it is VERY common to have a child with dual needs. Your daughter is lucky to have been blessed with a parent who can learn with her and help her grow. I'm sure she will blossom next year!

Second, I'm green with envy. I would LOVE to visit Asia. Lucky gal!

laughingatchaos said...

I wish had answers for you regarding Maya. I really wish I did. Sigh...no one said it would be this hard.

Fourier Analyst said...

Only you Darlin' could make a turn in the road and run into elephants!! You do lead an adventurous life!