Sacrificing the needs of the one for the needs of the Aspie
Every Tuesday, the kids and I go to Chick Fil A for dinner and kids craft night. We have been doing this since Annelise was an infant. It is one of those predictable rituals that Ella finds comfort in. Every Tuesday, she knows we will go for dinner and she will get to see her best friend there.
Last Tuesday, Annelise was extremely tired. It was Vacation Bible School week, and she had been playing all afternoon and had not taken a nap. She does not usually, but VBS wears my kids out! Her fit started while we were driving to the restaurant. It continued as we came inside, and she stayed between the exterior and interior doors. She was quiet only briefly, and then realized that her milk carton had a picture of a BOY on it and she wanted one with a GIRL on it (such a thing does not exist, it was just something to yell about). Knowing Annelise like I do, I knew this tantrum was due to lack of sleep, and I also knew that it would continue whether we were at Chick Fil A or not. Since this particular location has an outside eating area, I took Annelise and Teddy out there, and Ella and Maddie stayed inside with their friends. Annelise kept on screaming and crying and carrying on. We finished our food, the big girls made sundaes at the craft table, and then we packed up to go home. Annelise was still screaming, and was even yelling at me as her eyes closed and she passed out from exhaustion.
I had a teachable moment with Ella after I got Annelise put to bed. Earlier that day, I had been stressed and tired and hungry, and had a meltdown. The kids were loud, Ella was complaining, it was SO HOT outside, and it was time for lunch. I was not in a good place for stress. After lunch, we were invited to Ella's best friend's house. We spent the whole afternoon there. She has a huge house, and all day long, the kids were outside, up stairs, anywhere other than around us. It was blissful. I was so rested and restored! And then Annelise's tantrum struck. I was able to remain calm, to not yell at her, to reassure her, to think clearly enough to get her screaming away from other restaurant guests.. AND, to realize that I would have two meltdowns going simultaneously, in public, if I tried to make us leave Chick Fil A on Tuesday night. I pointed out to Ella that because I had gotten time to myself, to rest and be restored, I was far better able to cope with Annelise's meltdown, even though it was loud and awful and lasted almost a full hour.
She understood that there was a big difference in the way I behaved at those two points, and said that she understood how having herself together when she was in a stressful situation made it go better. When she has left the chaos of the end of the school day only to enter the different chaos of our minivan, it is NOT a good time for her. When she has had some time to decompress in the schoolbus, walk to our house from the bus stop, and come into our home that is not as enclosed as a minivan, things go a lot better.
So, we both learned a few things that day!