Usually I try to keep my blog posts as upbeat and positive as possible. I’m not going to lie. Tonight was one of those nights. The frustration, the tears, exasperation, and the overwhelming need to scream. I’m not talking about my 4.5 year old’s emotional state (although that was very much part of the scene I’m about to describe) . I’m talking about myself. I’m talking about my reaction to her rough night. I’m talking about those nights when I realize she’s trying to hold it together, can’t, and I want to sit down on the floor and lose it-right along with her.
Nutella. Another new food. A European food I happen to think is quite delicious. A food her therapist and I thought she could relate to. It’s thick, rich, and creamy like peanut butter, and “B” loves peanut butter. It tastes like chocolate. Another flavor she tends to like (most of the time). Boy was I wrong! Times 1000. Apparently, I didn’t do a good enough job of prepping “B” about Nutella. I went against everything I learned in food school. Instead of putting it on her “learning plate” (the plate where anything she hasn’t been exposed to resides until she’s ready to learn about the properties of that particular food), I smeared it on some bread and placed it right on her dinner plate. BIG MISTAKE! Mommy-messed-up-my-dinner-routine equals a full on melt-down. Not that I shouldn’t have expected it. I should have, but I had some high hopes. Those high apple pie, in the sky hopes. Too high apparently.
All she did was take one look at on her plate and she started hyperventilating. She wailed on and on with, “Why is it on my plate when I’m not ready to learn about it?” She had a legitimate question. I responded back with another horrible answer, “You don’t have to eat it, but we need to learn something new about it.” Then, I tried to redeem myself with, “I can move it to your learning plate.” The scene escalates.
Picture the following. Sobbing, hyperventilating, not listening to anything I’m saying. Not sitting at the table or eating. She responds with, “I don’t ever want to learn about it any day ever again!!!” In between sobs of course. I decide I need to do some therapy intervention. She needs to calm down. I need to calm down. You see at this point my frustration level is mounting. Tears are building behind my eyes. Family members are over, and everyone is watching the scene unraveling before their very eyes. My parents are trying to explain her behavior to the other people in the room. I’m thinking to myself, “Yes, indeed this is the way we live life when I don’t follow the rules. The “sensory” rules.”
I pick her up and carry her to the other room. I plan on brushing her to help her calm down. Picking her up induced another kicking-and-screaming, hitting-and-sobbing melt-down. She’s screaming, “Mommy, put me down!”
She tries to keep talking about the change I made to her dinner routine. All I can come up with is, “I’m brushing you right now. I’m not talking about dinner.” I encourage her to take deep breaths. It isn’t working. Time to move to the basement and bring out the big equipment (aka the trampoline). I tell her she needs to jump 100 times. She comes back with, “I can’t jump without any music.” This is all while she’s still crying and carrying on of course. I switch on her Backyardigans music and she starts jumping. She does it. 100 jumps.
Finally, I can talk rationally to her. She still tears up when I tell her she will eventually have to learn about Nutella, but not today. Today, I will move it to her learning plate and cover it with a napkin so she doesn’t have to look at it or smell it. The compromise that finally satisfies her sensory system. The emotional roller coaster ride has ended.
My emotional roller coaster ride continues. Each and every time this happens I think to myself, “How many times do I have to do this. How many melt-downs do I have to get her through before she can do things without it turning into an emotional battle. How many new foods do I have to expose her to until she’s willing to accept it on her dinner plate?” This doesn’t just happen with food. It happens with change. When her routine is challenged. Today it was about food. Yesterday, it was because I told her she needed to take a rest break in her room. I never know exactly what’s going to set her off emotionally.
It may seem I’m feeling sorry for myself, and you’re right. Some days I do. I know some people get it. Others will think, “You could have it so much worse.” They’re also right. I could, but some days my worse does get the better of me. I’m just glad I have a place to go and type it all out. A place where I know some people can identify and others just listen. Thanks to those of you who try and do understand. Right now I’m feeling much better 🙂