In the days/weeks that followed CJ’s doctor recommending us to see an Occupational Therapist for an evaluation the included sensory issues, I began reading everything that I could find on Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). And one thing that really bothered me was the subject of discipline- how to appropriately discipline a child who may not even be able to help it. I knew he spent the majority of days at the old preschool in time-out. It was their go-to method. They were done and weren’t even willing to put in an effort anymore. I was concerned and not really sure where to go. In the early days, I was particularly sensitive since it didn’t seem to be fair to punish him if he couldn’t help how he was behaving- if there was an underlying neurological cause for his behavior. You certainly can’t punish that out of a child. And so there we were. I’m going to calm, patient and understanding. I’m Zen Mama.
One evening WC was begging me for Taco Bell. Normally, we go through the drive through whenever I pick up his beloved tacos. I don’t want to punish him for his brother, either. So this is the compromise. We take it home since CJ cannot tolerate a restaurant after a day of preschool. After a day at his former preschool, he’d come home like a raw exposed nerve. I’d turn the car radio off and neither I nor WC would speak. He once melted down over a torn piece of paper.
On this particular day, WC was begging to let them eat at the restaurant. CJ was all for it. And he didn’t seem to be on the edge. And I relented. It was early and the restaurant not crowded, it might be okay. Before we’d sat down they’d found individual wrapped peppermints at the condiment station and had taken one. I said they could eat after dinner. Since we had our pick of seats I chose the booth on the end- that way he could sit without risk of anyone sitting behind him. So his fidgeting and constant movement wouldn’t disrupt anyone else. He and WC sat on the same side & he got to sit on the outside- which was both unusual & made me nervous. I sat down with their tacos and things went from annoying to worse. Think spastic cat on stimulants. He was lying down in the seat, I asked him to sit up and eat. The entire meal was spent with me telling him to either, sit up, sit down, turn around, and get back into the seat. If someone barraged me with commentary like that I’d cooperate just to shut them up. He’d “drop” the toy he’d brought in and need to go get it. I took away his toy- he angrily huffed. I threatened to make him sit next to me. His taco sat untouched. I ate it. He discovered it missing and got mad cause I ate it. I gave him another since I’d stocked up. He barely touched it and it ended up in the middle of the floor.
WC sat quietly stuffing his face with tacos and appeared not oblivious to the ruckus right next to him. He finished and opened his peppermint. CJ wanted his too. At that point I gave him the peppermint because I wanted the experience to be over. He put the peppermint in his mouth and three seconds later somehow it too ended up on the floor. I tossed it in the trash & the high speed come apart hit. WC quickly retrieved another peppermint from the condiment station and unwrapped it. Before we got out of the door, I heard the unmistakable sound of hard candy hitting the tile floor. You have got to be kidding me! I finished tossing the trash away and took CJ by the hand to leave. At this point he’s screaming again and WC has discovered no more peppermints in the container. They don’t have any more I tell him. And pull his screaming butt off the floor and out the door. I’ve parked just outside the door and before we get to the car, CJ wiggles free and screams, “But I’m hungry.”
A giant flash of light streaked across my vision. I’m not sure what happened next but, when I come to, I’m screaming at CJ in the middle of the parking lot something about having ample opportunity to eat as much taco as he wanted. He’s covering his ears. And instantly it snaps it back to me the SPD. I’m screaming at my SPD kid. I don’t want to be the screaming mama and I’ve just lost it. And I’m not sure Mother Theresa would have been able to hold it together in the same situation. WC is hiding on the other side of my car because when those words came out of CJ’s mouth, he knew to get the hell out of the way.
So we are back to our original arrangement of picking up food the few times we do eat out. I am not a Zen Mama.