It’s a pretty normal Sunday morning, there is about to be an altercation. lets call it ‘Muffingate’. My son has returned from his junior football game jubilant because he has ‘won’ a muffin. I use the word ‘won’ loosely. We all know he did little more than run in the right direction to get this accolade. It is of course his turn to be ‘player of the week’. He’s already had the Jesters pie for ‘man of the match’. An award which is more prized to a ten year old than the Coleman medal and now the muffin (and regular milkshake) are in his grasp. He even has a hastily printed certificate to prove his proficiency.
He doesn’t get the chance to enjoy his muffin moment in the sun because fire and brimstone is about to rain down upon him. His little sister – the one everyone says is cute- is flammable with rage at this social injustice. She is scream crying at the foot of the bed, inconsolable with fury. She only pauses briefly to fetch a Barbie from her bedroom to wack the living daylights out of him. I am not quick enough to intervene before she then has him by the hair. Man of the match he may be, but when she tackles him to the floor he’s staying down.
Its just another day in paradise for smallest and fiercest child. She has a speech and language disorder like her sister, but she is much harder to understand. We have had three years of speech and language school and the same issues are still there. Her words are difficult to grasp, even for me and her comprehension isn’t much better, but there’s more to it. So much more. My daughter is a code I don’t understand. I cant help her, because I cant decipher the problem. I don’t understand the rules to her logic, none of us do, including her. We are a family held hostage by a fanatic with unreasonable demands and unfathomable reasoning.
We can love her, listen, cuddle her, sit with her, remind her to breathe, acknowledge her big feelings, talk to her, get her out into the garden, distract her, move her to a place where she is not a danger to people, animals, houseplants, and herself, but I know this process is lengthy and frustrating because the “why” of it is never obvious.
She doesn’t know What she is upset about..Is it that her brother has a certificate?… or that he is going to get a muffin? More screaming.
She doesn’t grasp the concept that being given a certificate is not his fault, something he has no control over. She finds him complicit in the affair.
She does not subscribe to the view that if something nice happens to someone you love is as good as it happening to you. It should not happen to anyone other than her.
She cannot equate that his one muffin (and regular milkshake) is acceptable, in comparison to the muffin (and a regular milkshake) she has every two weeks, whilst the bigger kids are at Art class. She cannot see it.
Lets check the Yearly Muffin scores again shall we.
Middle child 1 Small but Fierce Child 25
Whichever way you slice it someone is not winning at life.
This whole emotional affair will stretch out for two hours, between kick off to final whistle. Its not unusual for me to be firefighting situations like this four or five times a day, Combined with her confusion in time and space, the sometimes inexplicable obsessional behaviour, and her penchant for gratuitous unprovoked violence, it feels like a marathon, treading water exercise. I’m not telling you this because I would like a virtual certificate for a muffin (and a regular milkshake) for my efforts. I am sharing not because I think my experience is unusual. I have a suspicion there are more people going through this kind of scenario than I think. I would just like to know what normal looks like. The problem is I don’t know what normal is anymore.
It seems everyone I know with kids is struggling with some daily hurdle not too far removed from my own, perhaps its the circles I move in. I know that everything I have read in the last few years points to an increase in the statistics of a whole spectrum of fun things, Autism, Aspergers, ADHD, ADD, SPD, OCD, ODD, as the figures grow, so do the equally helpful articles explaining with comforting voices that these figures are due to raised awareness, broadened diagnosis criteria, and greater accessing of services by parents. In other words things are the same as they ever were. I would like to believe that’s true, except I don’t think our family is that special in being a bit.. well ‘special’. Is special the new normal? Where we trundle onwards, with our broader knowledge,and raised awareness unsure how that helps on a practical level. I suspect its going to take a heck of a lot more acceptance and resources to improve things that much. I am holding out for a future where neuro diversity becomes the new norm, and society then adapts to accommodate this new majority. A global community where problems can be solved with the unilateral issue of free muffins (and regular milkshakes) until that day, I will be here treading water, with my fire extinguisher, hiding the Barbie dolls.