My youngest daughter likes stuff and she likes to shop.
I sometimes think she got the wrong mum. After an hour in the shops I’ve generally had enough whereas the term shopping is therapy fits Ivy to a Tee. We had one awful shopping incident when she was only 3 years old. I had popped into a shop with the twins to pick up a couple of items I had preordered. As we approached the collection point Ivy noticed all the glittery pink merchandise right by the till and started the “can I have that?” mantra. I’d just bought Ivy and the boys some shoes and after that expense I definitely wasn’t in the mood to buy random things which she didn’t really want or need. I said no. Ivy went ballistic.
“BUY ME SOME STUFF!”
she wailed repeatedly in her loud clear insistent voice.
I hoped people might not realise she was mine as I edged slightly further away from her, and closer to her perfectly behaved twin, Seb.
“MUMMY…JUST BUY ME SOME STUFF!!!!!”
She angrily screamed looking straight at me, hand on hip, right foot stamping the ground. My cover was blown. I couldn’t tell if the assistant was horrified or impressed by Ivy’s performance but either way she sped up, probably feeling as desperate as I was for Ivy to leave the shop.
I’m as stubborn as my daughter and there was absolutely no way she was getting anything in response to her demands, not even the smallest piece of tat. We left the shop and went straight to the car where I bundled a screaming Ivy into her seat. When we got home I put her in her bedroom and after 30 minutes she stopped wailing and was able to accept a peace building cuddle. She was so sweet for the next few weeks it was hard to believe her outburst had actually happened.
My autistic son Edward has never come close to equalling Ivy when it comes to dramatic outbursts but his behaviour has really worn me down at times. Due to his autism it’s really important to him to know when and why things are happening. If things change he really wants to understand why the change has occurred and whether it could have been avoided. He simply can’t just roll with it or go with the flow. I understand this and I try to be patient but sometimes his questioning about the whys and wherefores can go on and on and on. Some people overhearing these discussions probably want me to be firm and tell him to shut up. However trying to stop him with a “we’re not going to talk about this anymore” usually just escalates the situation further with him angrily challenging me with, “mum, why do you think it is ok to end a discussion by saying we’re not going to talk about it anymore?”. Groan.
A few years ago when I had taken my youngest three to visit my parents in-law, sister-in-law and her three very young children we decided to go for a country walk. The twins were enjoying being the big kids to their little cousins but Edward was a bit too old to join in with their play and he soon became bored.
“What is the point of this walk?”
“We’re spending time with our family.”
“I’m not. I’m walking on my own. I don’t see the point of this walk.”
“Well, you could be spending time with your family if you wanted to.”
“I don’t have anything to say. I don’t know why you made me come on this walk.”
“Well for one thing you are getting some exercise.”
“Mum, have you noticed how slowly we are walking? I don’t think this speed of walking counts as exercise, there is no point in this walk.”
“There is a point, the twins are playing with your cousins.”
“That’s true, but why did you make me come on this walk?”
“I didn’t want to leave you at R’s house on your own.”
“Why not? I would have been fine on my own. Mum you haven’t answered my question, why did you make me come on this walk?”
I think I must have sighed irritably.
“Are you getting cross?, Why are you getting cross? I’m only asking why you made me come on this walk!”
I could feel that sense of weariness approaching as I realised we were entering one of those repetitive conversation loops.
Distractions are usually the best way to exit these loops and thankfully I had the perfect one!
My father in law is a physicist and it just so happened that Edward had become very interested in particle physics. Bingo.
“Edward, you do realise that someone on this walk is an expert in physics and has the knowledge to answer any questions you have on that subject, don’t you?”
After a few seconds of blissful silence where I could almost hear Edward’s brain whirring, he scurried off in the direction of his grandfather and they spent the reminder of the walk in deep discussion about things of great interest to both of them, each appearing to have a thoroughly good time.
If only distractions could be that easy to find, every time.