Warning: I am having a moody day. It’s Monday. It’s cold. The kids had a rough night sleep due to some inconsiderate neighbors setting off fireworks around 11 pm. I accidentally left my laptop at home so I am using my terrible desktop machine in my cubicle which is truly a doorstop because it literally doesn’t function other than being able to check my email and use Notepad. In any case, it makes a good excuse to blog a bit. It definitely helps me process and I have wanted to use this Lenten season to reflect more and appreciate the good things in life. AND IN ORDER TO DO THAT, I HAVE TO GET SOMETHING OFF MY CHEST.
M has been a bit off all week. G was traveling for work and I know it is hard on the kids when their routine is disrupted. In any case, as FASD parents know, the little things tend to snowball into mood dysregulation. As a form of self punishment, we went to a kids birthday party yesterday. G insists that it is better to have M experience these things and the dysregulated aftermath then to avoid them and never learn to deal with these types of overstimulating situations. In fact M did pretty well there. He found a quiet space when he needed it. But this is always how it is for him, he can keep it together and then he lets loose after. He was SO WHINEY at home. Everything is so “bored” and it is “taking TOO long”. These are his common complaints. I learned in Occupational Therapy that he is not really bored or impatient, but that he has trouble identifying which sensory input he needs so his body just feels crappy and he will complain about random feelings that he isn’t feeling. I guess for parents of neurotypical children, imagine that sometimes when your kid says “I’m hungry” instead of just giving him a snack, you have to guess from a list of possibilities; is he tired? does he need proprioceptive input? is he sad? or is there a tag irritating him? are his socks on the “right way” (which is inside-out)? I go through a list of things to check and see what helps. Last night, he couldn’t swallow food. This morning, he still couldn’t swallow food. This is often a symptom of overstimulation for us. He can only eat crunchy, salty things. The sensation of other things in his mouth makes him gag. So I take my kid to a birthday party and then he can’t eat for 24 hours afterwards. Cool.
But to get to the heart of what is bothering me today, I hate going to birthday parties. I truly feel like I have almost NOTHING in common with other moms. Birthday party small talk is excruciating to me. Especially those moms whose kids are super laid back and easy going and who have never had to feed their kids potato chips just to get them to eat something. The side-eye I got when I gave my kid a pile of chips (to calm his nerves) made me want to scream. And then cry. This particular circle of friends is particularly self-righteous and I overheard such things as “I feel so guilty letting him watch a movie on Fridays, you know, because of too much screen time.” and “I never would have thought to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, He has only had peanut butter and honey.” when it was suggested to use M&Ms as a motivator for potty training, a look of disgust and “She has NEVER had an M&M.”
I can overhear a little mom talk and brush it off. But today I wanted to reflect on why it bothers me SO MUCH. I think I figured it out. Not because I think it is a great thing to feed your kid chips and Pirate’s Booty as an alternative to not eating, but truly because of what it implies. If they think that they are forever ruining their child’s future if he/she were to ingest some food dye or a cheeto, what does that mean for my kiddo who was pumped full of Meth
and alcohol for the most important developmental period of his life? Now I am going to have a good cry, and then feel better.