In which MJ has a bad moment
I woke up at 5:45 AM yesterday morning with a migraine. One of those nasty ones that sits behind the eye. I caught it in time because the Zomig did its job, but my daily rhythm is always thrown off due to the drug hangover. I can’t ever seem to get my act together.
Grace came home early from school yesterday. The Toradol injection has not completely put an end to her migraine this time. Yesterday, she was caught in the migrainous wave of pain again. I was frustrated by this. I wanted her to feel better. Milly was bouncing off the walls because she’s got a particularly bad case of March Madness. We’re all waiting for an official thaw, and there’s only more snow in the forecast. Doireann slipped on some ice while walking our neighbor’s massive English Labrador and hurt her wrist, and Eadaoin is simply being herself. My husband appears to be caught up in some weird flight of ideas which is giving him insomnia. He’s been unable to sleep for almost a week, but he’s bright-eyed and bushy-tailed every morning. I wouldn’t call him hypomanic. I’d just call him alert and hyperfocused. He’s used to marinating in ennui and not being able to get up in the morning. Alert? Able to get up? Ideas flowing? Not his normal.
So, everyone is squirrelly, and in my experience squirrelliness does not lead to good things.
Milly hounded me all day to take her to Target. She wanted out of the house. It was above zero yesterday. Finally. Perhaps leaving the house was a good idea even in my Zomig-induced stupor. Suddenly, Doireann wanted to come along as well. “Some person is stealing all my underwear!” she declared rather loudly while leering at Eadaoin. We all know that it’s Eadaoin. Eadaoin seems to be the one to hoard everyone else’s missing laundry. If I’ve got an unmatched pair of socks, then I can go to Eadaoin to find its match although she maintains her innocence on all counts by saying every single time, “How did that get there?”
On our way to Target Doireann asked me to withdraw cash for her at the bank (money from her paycheck). Upon my return to the car, I saw that Milly was covering her face while Doireann was fumbling with her words, yelling and laughing and gesticulating. She sort of sounded and looked like a chicken. I handed Doireann her cash and shouted over her, “What’s going on?”
“Mom, Mom, so, Milly forgot to lock the door, and I told her that she needed to do it, right? But, right as she turned to lock the door this African-American man was getting out of his car right next to us! And, he is standing like right next the car window. Milly looks him in the face. He looks at her. And, that’s the moment she locks the car door! She can’t do that! He thinks that she locked the door because he’s black! Like, we’re racists or something!”
I just started laughing. Doireann was having a fit in the backseat, and Milly was practically crying. “I don’t understand! What did I do wrong?” I tried to tell them both that I just greeted this man as I was leaving the ATM. He was smiling and laughing. He didn’t look mad at all. I explained to Milly that locking one’s door in front of anyone as they pass can sometimes imply that the way they look causes one to feel unsafe. So, when a white girl sees an African-American man standing outside her car window at which point she locks her car door, her actions might imply that she feels unsafe. Some people might say that she did this because he was black or looked threatening. They might play the Race Card. Milly, of course, had a very hard time understanding this because of a theory of mind (ToM) deficit. She knows why she locked the car door. She expected the man outside the car window to know the same thing. She forgot to do it at the moment when I left the car. Why should it matter that she locked the car door when a stranger was standing next to her car window? She wasn’t communicating anything to him when she did that because there was nothing to communicate on her part. Nothing was implied, but it doesn’t mean that something was not implied in the other person’s mind. That’s theory of mind–an ability to understand what someone else might think about the same situation even if you think something different. ToM is very hard for people on the autism spectrum. Heck, it’s hard for neurotypical people. Ever listen to a couple argue? There are ToM fails all over the place.
As I pulled into the Target parking lot, Milly was shutdown. All she knew was that she didn’t mean anything by locking the door. Doireann would not let it go, and I found the exchange awkward, funny, and fairly typical for our family. Milly, however, found no humor in any of it. I tried to engage her. No dice. As I was putting my keys into my bag, she got out of the car, looked me directly in the face, and SLAMMED the door as hard as she could.
That did it.
I can take a lot. I endure a lot on most days. I don’t mind. It’s life. We all have our battles to fight. But, when my daughter slammed that car door in my face, I just wanted to sit in the car and cry. I didn’t want to be Mom anymore. I didn’t want to try anymore. I just felt done. My head still hurt. I didn’t want to go home either. More of Grace shuffling around the house and staring at me. More of my husband refusing to do the right thing. More teenaged drama. More autistic, sensory seeking that knew no bounds when I finally did go home. More sarcasm. I imagined myself in a cabin on Lake Superior. Alone. Peaceful. Nice. I had to get out of the car though and deal with my very angry daughter. Doireann knew that I had reached my end. I stopped talking. I didn’t want to say anything that I couldn’t take back so I just shut my mouth. If you can’t say nothin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all. That’s my rule. It’s a good rule. It works. It’s hard on children though, and I know that. It looks like I’m ignoring them or holding the relationship hostage. I’m not. I’m trying to preserve the connection by not saying something to hurt it. I usually have to say something like, “I’m angry right now. Please give me some space to process that feeling. I don’t want to say something hurtful.” Only I was about to cry right there in the parking lot and speaking would have destroyed my somewhat calm veneer.
We survived Target. Milly came home and talked to her dad. I filled him in this morning. Apparently, she thought that we thought she was a racist. I don’t know how that got communicated, but that sounds like a connection she would make in the heat of the moment. She feels anything intense, shuts down her higher thinking processes, and, consequently, makes the strangest connections. The clean-up after the fact is just as important as the initial effort. It’s exhausting.
Just for a few days, I would really like a break. I just want off the roller coaster. Just for a little while. I promise, I’ll get back on again. I will.
I think that’s what they call magical thinking. Either I’m in Kansas and want to go to Oz or the other way around? Oh, I’m so confused.
Hey Glinda, where are you?