The night is darkest before the light. DD9 had a very rough day. She'd been cleared of her wheat allergy, but it's still out of the diet. I relaxed an inkling, wanting to try a Vietnamese cafe. She ordered stir fried tofu, veggies and rice. It had soy sauce, and possibly hoisin, which contains actual wheat flour, all in tiny quantities. No physical reaction anymore, that was encouraging. But for devilish behavior the next day, we are batting 1.000. It can always be attributed to something else, but every time--EVERY time-- we've purposefully or accidentally gotten her exposed to wheat, she gets day like this. She is not the raging machine anymore, but it brings out very spectrum-y behavior. She will get fixated on a game that involves her sister, and if she doesn't get 100% compliance, she follows her sister around, blurting out sideways insults (or direct ones, like "dumb") and singing or whistling or acting like a dog in close proximity. She cannot leave her sister alone, and she cannot, will not, is not capable of preventing herself from tearing her down.
So we had the "S" talk, I was pretty angry. We know she hates the idea of school, I do to. But I told her she had the summer to work this out or we'd enroll them in the 1/2 day school program 60 minutes away for homeschoolers. She *hates* threats and I don't blame her, but at this point, I am so flippin' angry. "I need help". Well, holy crap, I've been trying to help for 2hrs and she erects these walls at every attempt. Sorry, honey, but I can only help you so far. I told her I'd think of some things we could practice but she needs to meet me halfway. I am not going to try helping, then get scolded for not helping just because she doesn't like what I'm offering.
Calm down time. She's looking at her recipe book and I bring over a notebook and pen and start writing down what she's describing to me. I start starring the recipes we can do without buying anything. We are watching Gilligan's Island. I tell her my idea-- that every day for a week we sit and plan what we might do that day and where to put everything. We start with today though it's half over. I offer some suggestions, letting her know we don't really need to do everything. She nods and tells me where to put it. I add what I need to do along the side in the appropriate spots. Then I head off.
I'm reading her Girl Scout badge she's working on--My Best Self-- and one step is to find out what to do when something's bugging you. The suggestions gave me an idea. She really loved our star system before, but I didn't like the rewards and the tug of war, and dd7 hated it. But the badge gave me the idea that she could award herself with a star everytime she redirected herself to something constructive. I told her she earned 2 stars by turning on the TV and reading her recipe book. Another for getting in the bath. The stars were only for her records. She could count the number of stars she gives herself each day, or set a goal, or look for patterns. They were hers. I even gave myself a star for starting dinner before 5pm.
Ironing had been on the list we made. She ironed most of the napkins and some hankies (I don't iron hankies, but she enjoys it). She gave herself a star for that. Then for turning on gymnastics on youtube. We had agreed to make corn chowder for dinner. When she was bored again (meaning she's not able to play what she wants) she allowed herself to be redirected to make corn chowder. She helped with everything, and even ran outside to harvest some fennel fronds to match the dill in the picture.
All these things I know she loves, but she has a very difficult time redirecting herself when she has a certain idea. Eating grains negatively exacerbates this. It's been incredibly frustrating.
So we are making dinner and she chats with me and shares that she wishes she could have dessert after dinner. Since I have dessert after nearly every meal I listen and decide that if they help make dinner, help set the table, eat together, they could have a dessert *at the table*, but no candy. Check check and check.
It was a nice about-face. I like what we are trying this time around. I like that we are able, even after some harsh words to each other, to work out something that might actually be helpful. I think she needs more intention in her days, I have always thought she would, but as someone who likes flowing through the day, if she seemed content I never sought out putting more intention in. I could really use it. My brain is pretty scattered and I don't use my time well. I waste it, taking small, random breaks but never truly feel rested because the action and the non-action is without intention, dedication or anything. It's not being here now. It is being here now with my thoughts everywhere else but here.
I think she and I can help each other out with this. It's not her fault, it's partly the way her brain works. It's not "bendy", to use her own words. I'm hoping this afternoon is a good start, for both of us.
"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."