Friday, 4 March 2016

A Side of Autism: F-ing Pop

This week is ski holiday in our  area of Finland. Also known as March Break (typically held in February though) or spring break.
We decided to keep all three kids at home as it means we don't have to wake up and run around to three different locations to drop them off and pick them up.
We are also back to trying to save money and pinch pennies here and there.
One of the biggest spendings we have every month is "treating" the kids to lunch on the weekends.
We seriously need to cut back -so I have been trying to time my errands or outings with the kids away from meal times.
The V-Man is determined though. Subway is his thing and it's located in our grocery store of choice. So I gave in this week- he had been relatively well behaved that day and I forgot my water bottle and thought he wouldn't like the orange pop.
He loved it so much I got a refill. Then he refused to let me have any and I worried about a diaper overflow (although he can hold it in for a really long time-usually when in public) and that's where Hell broke loose.
He refused to eat his sandwich, of which there was a third left and didn't want to munch on the little bag of chips either. He just wanted pop.
I was alone with him and tried to remain calm as he began having his meltdown. He screamed and yelled like he was being tossed in the hole on Scandal and by yelling -I mean the whole really big area of Subway was silent (of course there were other customers) and the cash register line ups (of the grocery store) were also silent too. Aside from the beeping of items being scanned- all you heard was my 6-year old slap his face, scream in pain from it and also from the pain of being denied pop.
Then he really got pissed off and tried to flip the table over.
Thankfully those things are pretty heavy- so he couldn't flip it half way...not yet anyway.

What the f*ck am I going to do when he's a teenager? Honestly?!
Never mind the fact that everyone can see and hear him and the strangers are being kind. They're staring but not for long, they're not offering help (which I prefer) and they're pretending like there isn't a large 6-year old boy trying to his his mother with the freaking Subway table.
Thank you strangers! It makes things much more bearable for me when you continue doing your thing-I genuinely appreciate it.
(This also reduces my chances of my own public melt down if I'm left alone to deal with V-Man.)

Sure, I could've gone back to the cash register and gotten him an extremely overpriced juice box that he would finish in 10 seconds.
But then he would win. He would learn that he gets his own way by tossing a fit the size of a tornado. He would learn that he could flip a table and eventually get more pop or juice.
I'm trying to keep my cool and compromise with him. I hid the pop and told him if he had more sandwich- then he could have more pop. But then he started rocking the table at me again and the slapping himself started too and I just slurped that pop and tossed away his 1/3 of a sandwich and the empty cup and we left.
I lectured him like crazy.

"That's not nice. You don't throw the table. Try to be a good boy. No more screaming- it's not nice. You didn't get more pop because your tooth just fell out and it's way too sugary for little kids anyway. If you are more sandwich you could've had a little more pop."

I'm the whisper firmly and logically mother in the grocery store- bracing myself for another meltdown. I'm occasionally the talk out loud to myself like I would inside my head mother - which means I'm using the "OMG DUH!! Give me a break!" tone as well.
I realize he probably didn't comprehend most of the longer sentences. But I had to get it out.
I had an instant headache and dreaded what grocery shopping would bring but he chilled out once we got into that rhythm and started dragging the shopping basket on wheels-he calmed down.
Maybe the line up beforehand was too much for him or maybe the sensation of pop in his mouth was overwhelming and exciting and he simply wanted to feel more of it.

I texted the Hubster about the stress of it all and that when I got home, I would be having a drink.
It wasn't even 4pm-never mind 5.
(Of course it's always 5 o'clock somewhere...)
So I got home, rushed past the V-Man to unpack groceries and avoid him for a bit.
I just needed space and knowing that two more kids would be climbing all over me once we walked inside- I definitely needed a drink.

I can highly recommend Bailey's mixed in to your hot chocolate, topped with marshmallows, whipped cream and sprinkles.
I don't own a shot glass- so I just slowly counted to 5 -both to calm my nerves and to signal when I should probably stop pouring Bailey's into my mug.
I don't do this often- I promise you. But it was either a cup of spiked hot chocolate while muttering my stresses away in an annoyed but quieter voice-or screaming my head off.

I guess the point of all this is to share that everyone has crappy days. From both sides of the fence- the kid side and the parent side. 
In retrospect, the V-Man had to wait in line (which he despises) and was robbed the opportunity to have more fizzy pop. 
I have to remind myself that he's entitled to want more of something and express anger (still-I can't justify giving in every time!) and hope to God he doesn't kill me with a table in public. 

I know a teeny part of me wanted to make him scared and I could've easily threatened to flip the table back in his direction. 
But what does it accomplish? People calling social services because they can't necessarily see autism and assume I'm the one trying to hurt him? Not saying that's his intent when he slams tables because it isn't. It's how he truly expresses rage - other than slapping himself. 

Sometimes the toughest part of being a parent is the ability to just let it go. Don't hold a grudge. Don't lose your marbles or your sh*t - both publicly and in private. Don't give in but also don't put up too big of a fight hat ends up pushing them away. 

It's a really freaking tough job- but someone has to do it.
And you can. 

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