Saturday, April 09, 2011

I used to see kids melt down in public.  Full blown screaming tantrums, and parents in various states of disarray, hair in disarray, bags falling out of arms, flailing limbs, red faces. 
I'd shake my head with everyone else.  And tell myself I wasn't judging. 
But I lied. 

I admit this now, to myself, after being 'that mom'.  With the screaming, stomping, "I hate you!  I wish I was never born!  Why don't you love me?" kid.  The one trying to unlock the car door while preventing flailing arms and legs from pummeling any other children (namely the sister who unexpectedly triggered the attack)  The one telling her barely-over-12 year old to get in the **front** seat, and stuffing the breath-holding stiff-as-a-board child into the back. 
I admit it because in between blocking kicks and steering kids through a well-populated area, I glimpsed a sea of faces.  Most carefully averting their eyes, and a few too fascinated by the spectacle to be ashamed at watching.  I remember thinking it wouldn't ever happen to me.  My kids wouldn't...  I'd cut it off early, never give in, never let it start.  In retrospect, while I never really held it against them, I held myself apart from them.  And now I've become that mom.  With that kid. 

The one who ate sprinkles yesterday and can't keep herself under control today. 
I wish I could just pin a sign on her shirt that says "I'm not responsible for my actions if you feed me artificial food colorings"  but I'm not sure anyone would pay attention.  I wish I'd video taped todays performance, if not for FDA hearings on whether or not food dye is evil, then for a dr to help evaluate her...because she's usually an angel for strangers.  I think the adrenaline of 'different' caretakers helps her keep control.  But it's just a theory. 

I don't pretend that eliminating food dyes from her diet would solve the problem.  Even when she is dye free, which is most of the time, she has her moments.  There is definitely something there that lies just outside the realm of norm.  But, artificial colorings exacerbate it.  They tip whatever scale it is inside of her that helps to maintain control and propriety. 

And I don't mean to make excuses for her.  She needs to keep herself from losing control.  We're trying to find all the tools she needs to do it.  I will say she's made progress.  She was still "there" during this tantrum, and didn't have to cry herself to sleep to get out of it.  And honestly...I've never given in to her tantrums.  She's never once earned herself a new toy, an extra cookie, or a second trip around the merry go round.  If her goal is to get me to leave the store, the closest she gets is sitting in the car or on a curb until she's calm and then heads back in.  I'd wondered why she bothered throwing them until I read "The Explosive Child" and started pining after one of those dreaded labels.  Now I try, hard, to take them in stride.  Although, days like today, I'm not sure that's really working.  (She's better...but she's nine.  Shouldn't she be past this?) 

Which reminds me that stress may not be the root of my digestive disorders, but it really doesn't help them any.  Ugh. 


Dawn said...

I have also been on both sides of the tantrum throwing child. I do remember feeling relief when I figured out artificial colors were a trigger. Thank you for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I have gone through the same thing with my daughter. She also has severe behavioral reactions to certain foods (milk and potato as well as corn!)
I figured out food dyes myself as a very young mom feeding her kids the typical american diet. Now she's 17 and won't give me a say so unfortunately I can't help her. Hang in there, you're right and you deserve to feel a bit self righteous when you see someone else not figuring it out. It's all we have sometimes :D