“Come downstairs for dinner.” She worded it wrong, she knew as soon as she said it. It had been a long day and she was extremely tired. Food was later than normal and she had shouted up the stairs to her daughter.
“No. I don’t want any”. She knew she did, it was the way she had asked. The shout, the direct demand. Her daughter couldn’t do it.
She dished the food onto the plates and went upstairs to find her daughter in her bed. She tried again. “We are all downstairs eating and your dinner is on the table if you would like to join us.” She still got a negative response, in that voice, the one that was used when it’s all too much and her daughter can’t seem to snap out of it. Her daughter had, had a long day at school. She didn’t push, she just told her she would see her downstairs if she decided she wanted to eat and left it at that.
Five minutes into their meal her daughter stomped downstairs. “I want ketchup, give me the ketchup now” The ketchup was in use already and she had seen that.
Her brother asked her how her day was, its his default question when he sees one of them after school “Hi, how was your day?” This was the first time he had seen his sister that day. She ignored him. He doesn’t like that and she knows it. Now I’m making her out to be extremely rude but it wasn’t that. She was battling within herself. She wanted her food but there was a demand to eat it. She was avoiding this demand. Firstly the ketchup, she decided she couldn’t eat without ketchup because she saw someone else had it. Secondly ignoring her brother, she knew this would normally get a reaction that would delay eating. Did she really not want to eat? No, she was hungry. Normally the demand of eating isn’t one she would get stuck on but today was different, it had been a hard day for her.
Her brother didn’t react so she said something mean to him instead. He was now on edge. They managed to just about make it through the meal.
Straight after eating her daughter decided she wanted ice cream and went to the freezer. The ice cream was all gone. She was out of control and what she had in her head couldn’t happen. Her reaction was to shove her brother across the room.
Now it was his turn to explode. His sister had wound him up enough and knew his triggers. He couldn’t cope any longer. He went for her, Their mum had to restrain him and remove him to another room, explaining that his sister was just trying to wind him up. She gave him a light up ball to throw at the wall and shifted her attention to the rage that was building in the kitchen. She passed her daughter the empty ice cream box and a pencil to stab it with in a hope she could regulate her anger.
It worked, to an extent, and her daughter asked for a bowl of custard. The custard wasn’t an option because it was for the apple pie they were having the next day and that’s why her daughter had asked. She said yes, it’s only custard and she knew the custard would diffuse the situation that was brewing between the kids. She let her daughter get a bowl of custard and asked if she would like to eat it downstairs or in her room. She chose her room and stomped back upstairs.
Her son then talked and shouted and threw himself around the room on a soft play block for an hour until he was calm enough to get ready for bed. It was 11pm by this time.
When her son finally went upstairs, her daughter gave him a note. She had written that she was sorry she had pushed him and she didn’t hate him, she didn’t want him to die and she didn’t mean to be horrible to him. Her voice had changed back to normal and she was her kind self again. She turned to her mum and said “did you see the note? It took me a long time to write it but I wrote it because I’m a nice person. I am a nice person aren’t I?”
Her daughter is a nice person, she is lovely and kind and funny and she doesn’t mean any of it, but she masks all day at school, everything gets too much. She is anxious and any demands are hard to deal with and easier to avoid in any way possible. She is a PDAer. Her brother is autistic.
Their mum put them to bed, cleaned up the aftermath and had a well deserved cup of tea!
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