Thursday, January 5, 2012

Pizza Parlor Storm

With the in-laws ready to head back to sunny Arizona we decided to go out for a casual pizza dinner the other night. I warned them, but not myself, that with two weeks in Maui under their belt and one day back to school, their sweet grandchildren may not fare so well. Boy howdy!

With our seven year old having been diagnosed about two years ago with Aspberger's, we are more understanding of his quirks and sometime outbursts. With a year of occupational therapy and two years of counseling, he is doing kind of better. I still am not equipped mentally for some of the things he does. His meltdown on this particular occasion was hotter than the mozzarella on the pie.

Simple questions from the very nice server "what can I get you to drink"? Was the start of a thirty minute tirade. He was overcome with the decision of choosing one drink. This resorted in hitting the table, tossing silverware, throwing himself under the table, throwing himself onto the bench seat, occasional yelling and basically being miserable. We all remained calm during the pizza parlor tirade,thankful we were in the back room, in a corner booth.
We couldn't order for him. That lesson was learned last summer over lemonade in a burger joint. It will never, ever be what he wants.

I took his littler brother to the restroom. When I returned, I was picking up more of Jack's silverware and his snowboots. These were all about five feet from our table. I didn't even ask how they got there, I already knew.

Unfortunately the family across the room knew nothing of Jacks's brainwaves. They glared the entire time. Scowling, wanting to shoot daggers at the distraught little boy or his Mother. Thinking he was a brat. I calmly went up to them, leaned down and whispered "he has Aspberger's". They all smiled and nodded! What the hell is smiling and nodding? Assholes, I said under my breath as I walked away.

The food came. Spaghetti for him, his favorite and a hawaiian to share with his brother. He refused to eat, said take it away. He couldn't possibly eat it without a drink.

So, we all started eating and he continued to whine, but the yelling and tossing of tableware was over.

Then, his epiphany hit. "A root beer, where is the lady, I want a root beer". Oh good heavens don't let them be out of root beer and please nice lady server person, don't ask him if he's sure. Please just get the kid his root beer. We can't take it anymore. She came, nodded and one minute later the perfect soda had arrived.
He sipped. That was it. Then he sat and ate an entire plate of spaghetti, garlic bread and pizza. The perfect pizza parlor storm was over, as fast as it had begun.

My head is now crammed into another book on Aspberger's. Not what it is, but how in the hell do we help a young child get through life's most simple of tasks.

I am also thinking kids have too many options. When I was a kid, Coke, Sprite or water? No,f'n lemonade, chocolate milk, Vita water, coke, sprite, root beer, orange, apple juice, cranberry. Hell. It makes my head spin and my son's seemingly detaches from his neck and flies around a room.


  1. Funny thing, I vaguely remember some discussion with you about Aspberger's, but I didn't realize Jack had actually been diagnosed with it. I thought he was just quirky.

    I was just thinking yesterday about about all of the choices our kids have that we didn't, and how overwhelming and developmentally inappropriate the choices we ask them to make often are. (Sometimes I'm overwhelmed by them.)In the future, at restaurants at least, could you offer him only three choices, no matter how many are on the menu?

  2. My mom taught special ed for eons. And before that, worked with mentally retarded children. If I learned one thing from her efforts in the classroom, it is that a parent's participation is key. Understanding your child as best as you can, even when it feels like you don't understand them whatsoever, takes effort, commitment and patience. My hat is off to you because you are excelling in a way that many parents do not.

    And as a non-breeder who often grumbles at even the tiniest peep coming from a non-adult, apologies for the scowls and sneers. Your attempt to quietly explain the situation was both brave and important. Had I been on the receiving end, I would have nodded and offered a smile as well, a smile to show support.

  3. I can't imagine teaching special ED or as they now call it, SPED. It took me about three months to figure out that acronym having only heard it from teachers. Apple,tree thing.
    I am pretty sure John and I are just barely scraping by. Some days I wonder if I am the wrong parent for the right kid?
    Paige,in a non-tantrum stage you would probably get a huge kick out of Jack. He is very literal and loves reading and doesn't forget anything! Kids his own age think he is a little off. But adults really enjoy talking with him. It's like having an adult in a little mini-body, but he doesn't care what anyone thinks and just speaks his mind.
    I can talk to him about what he thinks about a political sign, but I would never ask him if the pants make my butt look big.

  4. Nikki, he reads everything. Almost in a frantic way. Sit down at a restaurant and he can tell you the specials because he read the board coming in. Is there a flyer for a lost dog on the door. He knows the name of the dog, it was on the flyer walking in.
    His mind never seems to stop working. It's like a tornado in there and sometimes he just can't manage it. It's really kind of sad.


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