Karri Shojaei-Wilson is co-owner and director of education of the Marigold Learning Academy, a school for children with autism and related disabilities in Rockwall. She lives in Fate with her 10-year-old daughter Kayla, her 5-year-old son Daelan and her two miniature schnauzers, Vosco and Mika.
5:30AM Alarm rings and I hit the snooze button — two more times, and I’m finally awake enough to get out of bed.
6:15AM I return from downstairs with my first cup of coffee and go into my bathroom to have a few alone-time minutes before it’s time to wake up the kids. As I sit at the counter sipping my coffee, I think of what day it is and what is on the list.
6:30AM I wake up Kayla and Daelan by turning on the PBS channel. (There’s less fussing that way.)
6:45AM Even though they are in charge of dressing themselves, the kids both have definite ideas of style, so I inspect them to make sure they’re ready for society. (Daelan’s latest thing is to wear his shirts backwards.) I help Kayla with her hair (she has enough for two people). Looking at my children, I marvel at how tall they’re both getting and how preteen Kayla has become.
7:15AM We go downstairs en masse to eat breakfast. Daelan has to have Mika, one of our schnauzers, sleep with him every night, so once he’s dressed he has Mika tucked under one arm and heads downstairs. Kayla is always looking for that special pair of shoes to wear (sometimes mine), which can cause delays. When downstairs, the children make sure the dogs have water and food for the day. They both like to take their lunch, so instead of packing it the night before I make it an award. If they get up and get dressed on time, they get to take their lunch. (I know it’s a strange concept, but it works.) This morning they were prompt, so they go through the pantry to find peanut butter, bread, chips and applesauce for Daelan.
7:30AM We race out the door and into the car in order to drop off Kayla and Daelan. The children attend the same school, so I don’t have to drive all over the country to get them to school. There’s no bus service for the children attending the school in our neighborhood, so you either have to be driven by the parents or become a walker. I am so grateful, being a single parent, that it is possible for me to drop them off myself.
7:45AM McDonald’s drive-thru for coffee, and then on to work.
8AM I arrive at the Marigold Learning Academy and start the school day with meetings with the staff to see if everyone has what they need before the students’ arrival. Once the children are in the building, there’s no longer any time to guide the staff, other than see what is happening in the classrooms and assist where needed.
8:30AM Students start arriving. Because of the nature of our school, either a staff member or myself has to meet each parent at his or her car and take the student into the building individually. The same procedure is followed at the end of the school day. If it is me, I’m often stopped in the parking lot with parents seeking information about their child.
9AM Class schedule begins. The students also go from classroom to classroom. The desired end result is to have the children ready to enter the regular school system as smoothly as possible.
11:30AM This is the time that I try to take my lunch. I try to leave the building, even if it means sitting in my car in order to regroup and be ready for the rest of the day.
12PM The afternoon class schedule begins. I grab a few minutes in my office and confer with my partner and sister, Tracie Wilson, concerning business matters and staff needs.
1PM I’m in one-on-one instruction with one of our students. He’s been with us since we opened our doors, and I like to work with him myself. It gives one a good feeling when you can see progress.
3PM The after-school-program children start arriving.
3:30PM Our full-time students are leaving the school at this time.
5:45PM The school day has ended (big sigh). All students and staff have gone home for the day.
6PM Kayla and Daelan have to be picked up at their after-school program. This will be the last year that both children will be in the same school, so I’m trying to savor these moments when they both are picked up at the same time.
6:15PM The children sit at the kitchen island to do their homework while I prepare dinner. On this night, there’s no baseball practice for Daelan or volleyball practice for Kayla. Kayla is currently in a local production of The Wizard of Oz, and I have been dropping her off for rehearsal and then running to Daelan’s practice, but not tonight.
6:30PM The children eat at the kitchen island, while I eat standing.
7:30PM The children and I clean up the kitchen. They put their backpacks by the front door, so we can do our morning “grab ’n’ dash” on our way out.
7:45PM The children shower, pick out their clothes for the next day and get dressed for bed. Around this time, I allow them to use their iPads for a short period of time, then off to bed. Right before lights out, they pick out books and we read them together.
8:30PM As I leave their rooms, I say a silent prayer that they fall asleep without calling me back several times.
8:45PM It’s my turn to shower and pick out what I’m going to wear tomorrow. I get some hot tea and treat myself to fine china and gather up my textbooks to do my online class.
9:15PM My online class starts with the instructor lecturing, and later my classmates and I become a part of the discussion by asking questions of the instructor and talking among ourselves. The input of the different members of the class can be very informative and thought-provoking.
10:30PM Class is over. It’s time to check the business Facebook and Twitter accounts. I like to read all the great responses that the parents and others post throughout the day.
11PM I sneak downstairs to watch a pre-recorded episode of Downton Abbey while drinking my chamomile tea.
11:45PM Time to go to bed. I set everything I need on the kitchen counter next to the coffeepot or I’m sure to leave it behind. I turn everything off and peek in on my two little ones.
12AM At last my head hits the pillow. I try to quiet my mind and fall asleep so that I can start my routine all over again.
Published August 2015