“Mum GG hit me”
“Mum! GG went like this (pokes tongue out) at me”1
“Owwwww Muuuuuum! BB punched me in the faaaaaaaaaaace!”
“Owwww MUUUUUUUUUM!!!! GG WENT LIKE THIS (POKED TONGUE OUT) AT ME AGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIN!!!!!! MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!! MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUM!!!!!!!!!! MUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
That was our trip to the supermarket this afternoon. We had taken about 4 steps inside the doors when all this started at a volume that would rival that of a bunch of toddlers let loose with cricket bats on a drum kit.
This is, of course, a nightmare that most parents of young children have faced at one time or another – but us ASD parents face it more frequently, with greater intensity and for a longer duration than the average parent. Hearing “MMMMMMUUUUUUUUUUMMMMMMMMMM” shrieked at anytime can be like finger nails on a blackboard (or Millenial equivalent), but practically being beaten with it in a public setting can make your blood boil! Most of us have been there, right? (I mean no offense to parents of non-verbal children, I daresay your little cherubs have an equivalent sound that makes you want to put your pj’s on and crawl back into bed!) Of course we have! It is part of the joys of parenthood that you wish for selective deafness to bless you during these most trying of times. Which is why it amazes me that so many parents cast judgemental glances at other people’s children in public places – do you not remember being in their shoes once upon a time? If you don’t, or never were then keep that shit to yourself – no one wants to hear that! 😉
Background: I have bought no less than 6 punnets of strawberries and 4 punnets of blueberries this week for the kids fruit break at school and for me to have with vanilla coyo for breakfast. All 10 punnets of berries, all 2.1kg of berries, were stolen out of the fridge and eaten. The last poor punnet of strawberries was involved in a strawberry throwing fight which is what alerted me to the larceny. As a result of the theft GG and BB went to school without fruit break today. We got home from our walk from school when I realised that I hadn’t been shopping during school hours and that this slip of the mind would result in me having to take them to Coles with me which is always a fairly hectic outing.
The intensity of their exchange was remarkable and drew several looks from our fellow shoppers. But, as they are want to do these days, they ran out of some of their puff annoying each other and started using words and sentences to articulate what they were experiencing.
“I was only annoying you because you were being mean to me and ignoring me!” declared an indignant GG, now 7.
“You! You were being rude! I was trying to talk to mum and you kept doing this (poked his tongue out at her) at me and distracting me!” replied an outraged BB, still 5 but “getting huge” as he likes to tell me in his size 3 clothing.
“I didn’t know you were talking to mum!” GG informed her little brother.
“Well I was and you still shouldn’t have done this (poked his tongue out at her) at me! That was very rude of you GG!” he chastised his big sister.
Now granted, all of this occurred at an improper volume. The looks of adults and children alike were considerable. But I couldn’t tell you what their looks said about their reaction to my children’s exchange because I was paying very little attention to the strangers in the shop. Instead, I was rapidly losing steam from the pressure that had been building in my head. Watching these two amazing little people discussing their thoughts, feelings and perspectives with each other whilst still in such a state of temper was one of the most impressive things I have had the priviledge of witnessing. But it wasn’t until we were back at home that I was able to reflect on the incident and really give them their dues.
Whilst the volume and pitch of the initial disagreement was extremely objectionable in that environment, which is why in my exasperation I threw in “Oh BB! If she is annoying you then you can CHOOSE not to look at her! You can’t control GG’s behaviour but you CAN control yours, you know!”. In total that inital exchange only lasted a few minutes before they turned to each other of their own volition to resolve the situation with a frank and articulate exchange. The conflict resolution skills that these little people demonstrated would put many adults to shame.
I think the most impressive part about it was that they both listened to each other, concisely shared their views and jointly reached a decision that they were both in the wrong! GG for not noticing that BB was talking to me before trying to speak with him and also for teasing him with poking her tongue at him. BB for punching GG in the face and for not acknowledging her attempts to engage him in conversation. They also agreed that they were both in the wrong for hitting each other because hitting is just not ok. They both apologised to each other and agreed that they were once again best friends, the altercation forgiven and forgotten before turning to me in unison to pester me about having more to eat – despite the fact that the crumbs from their afternoon snack were still present on their shirts and faces.