Like Mother, Like Son

This has been such a long, emotionally brutal day for me. So many things have been thrown at me, and in a couple of cases, I did not handle them very well.

First, I need to do a little background explanation. I have had both boys tested for allergies, food and environmental. Both of my twins are highly allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, which requires an anaphylaxis plan (complete with EpiPens at school). When my one twin had his allergy testing done, the peanut tester area raised up so red and irritable and was as big as my pinky fingernail. I have the anaphylaxis plans at school, plus the EpiPens, and I thought the teachers knew about the food allergy.

Today was a half-day at school.  It was the last day of parent/teacher conferences. I had volunteered to help out for the parent/teacher conference movie time (child care for the parents so they can go to the conferences without their kids.) Our school’s lunch was a take-home sack lunch, with crustless peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I had assumed that it would be a sub sandwich. There is the one breakdown in communication because I had assumed something. The other is that the food services director, in my opinion, should know which kids have food allergies and plan accordingly.

So, when I went to pick up my boys today, I found out that lunch was PB&J. My one son didn’t order lunch because he thought I was going be bringing him a lunch, my other son didn’t eat it because he knows he can’t have PB. I came unglued because I had spoken to that food services person earlier last week about food allergies and that both of my boys were allergic to PB and tree nuts. I called over to her office, and started yelling at her (not a good thing, looking back, especially since I did this in the school office.) She and I disagree that it should be her job to know about food allergies; I should be notifying her of any diet modifications. I agree with the notification of diet modifications, but she should know about food allergies, especially when she is cooking food. Heck, I will claim responsibility and say that I should know, too, what ingredients the food services program is using so that I can plan for food modification.

My gosh, this is just one more thing I have to monitor, along with IEP’s, therapy sessions… ack.

The food services director did make the boys new lunches and dropped them off at the business office. I was thankful for that since we don’t have much food at home. But, now I have hurt someone that I shouldn’t have because of my overprotectiveness and I was under stress- thinking about how the heck I was going to feed my boys since I didn’t have anything at home, and I didn’t have any money.

At the end of last week, I had asked one of the local coffee shops to donate coffee for today’s parent/teacher conferences for the teachers. I know from my own past experiences with parent/teacher conferences that teachers don’t get much time to get anything to eat or drink between conferences, so I thought that coffee would be a nice treat for them. Luckily, the local coffee place (if you haven’t had Biggby Coffee, you’re missing OUT. This is the BEST coffee in the world as far as I’m concerned.) The manager at Biggby Coffee called me to see if I was coming to pick up the coffee; I had thought that they were going to deliver it. Since they were short-handed at the shop, I had to go pick it up. No problem….sigh…right when I need to get things set up for the movie time. Thankfully, one of the teachers watched my boys while I went to get the coffee.

I got back, set up the coffee bar for the teachers (3 gallons of regular and 3 gallons of decaf, or as I call “brown water”), and finally went to the auditorium to do my child care duty.

One of my friends was doing the movie time with me. I was still all jittery and upset from the food service incident. I had not had lunch; the boys did, thankfully. I did manage to scarf down a piece of pizza in the teachers’ lounge, but I was still out of sorts emotionally and physically. Luckily, my husband brought me lunch.

At one point of time, I had to leave the auditorium because I had to take a phone call. During this time, there was a baby crying during the movie. My son, even though he has Asperger’s, still has a strong social sense of knowing when someone is upset, and he wants to fix it. He has it in his mind that he has to comfort and protect everyone (gee… I wonder where he gets that from… hmmmm….) He thought that the movie was scaring the baby, so he went up to the movie to block the picture. My friend told him not to do that. Casey got more upset and went up to the projector to block the picture more, and bumped against the projector. My friend scolded him again, not understanding about Asperger’s or autism, nor my son’s motivation for doing what he was doing.

When I got back from my phone call, I saw my son on the floor in a crying heap. I asked him what was wrong and he said “Mrs. M said I couldn’t stop the baby from crying.” Immediately, I thought that she didn’t want Casey going up to the baby. I went up to her and asked her what happened. She told me, but Casey did not tell me the whole truth. So, I blew up at her, thinking that she overreacted at Casey, and told her, “Of all people with a science background, you should understand about autism. Don’t make my kids cry.” Of course, she got upset, and later left.

When I finally got the truth out of Casey, I felt awful. I told him, “I wish you had told me what had really happened. I got upset at Mrs. M., and now I need to reconcile. Reconcile means to fix the relationship.” I asked him if he understood, and he said he did.

Before we left, I talked to one of the janitor, and ended up crying. I talked to another teacher and cried some more. I talked to the principal and cried even more.He suggested that I fix things with the food services director tomorrow. I know I have a lot of mending to do tomorrow. I already called my friend to start the mending process. I need to stop over at the food services director’s office to mend fences with her.

So, how does all of this tie into my title “Like Mother, Like Son”? Well, Casey and I are both fiercely protective. We are both perfectionists because we feel awful when we make a mistake. Also, we are sensitive to other’s feelings. We both overreact to situations when we don’t have all the facts.

I feel awful for everything wrong that happened today. My eyes and head hurt so much from crying. I know I overreacted both times, but in both situations, I was just trying to protect my kids. But, I could have handled it better.


12 responses

  1. Well, firstly, (((((HUG)))))

    Secondly, it sounds like you have too much on your plate. Is there any way you can delegate? Like, say, next time get someone else to pick up the coffee?

    Thirdly, do you make lists? Maybe if you’re not to exhausted before you go to bed you could make a quick list of things you have to do the next day and hopefully that means you’ll have less surprises, panics etc.

    But I don’t know how you cope, I really don’t. Let me just say I’m amazed you got through it just yelling and crying and didn’t kill anyone! So even though you feel crappy I think you have to congratulate yourself for at least surviving it. By the sounds of it, it was a horrible day, much of it beyond your control, so cut yourself some slack.

    Michelle, really, I don’t know how you do it but you do. Take some time out to appreciate that you haven’t gone stir crazy yet because I think a lot of people in your position would have. You’re not super-mom. You’re a human being, a really strong one, but a human being all the same.

    You’re beating yourself up about things you feel you got wrong but getting things wrong is how we learn. Next time, you’ll ask them to deliver the coffee! You can’t expect to get it right all the time, first time.

  2. @ la- Thanks for the hugs. I need them so much right now. Yes, I did have a lot going on that day. I’m still wiped out emotionally, and it’s the next day.

    @ FXSmom- Yes, padded rooms with 24/7 service of a massage therapist, aromatherapy, chocolate, and NO TV. Seriously, though, sweetie, I know how you feel. Sending you love and hugs.

  3. Aw, what a crappy day. Seems like everything happens all at once, doesn’t it? I hope today was better, and that you got a little relationship patching done, and that it wasn’t too difficu.t


  4. Hey when you learn to disengage that “blowup/protective/thinklater” button, or at least rewire it, let me know, it’s caused trouble around here too. Oh, and Michigan Cherry Bigby is great.

  5. First let me thank you personally for the nice thing you said on my blog about our unfortunate passing.

    With that said, I’d like to inject some levity into this posting: It’s backwardly wonderful that in our culture, we’re even fortunate to be allergic to some foods. To quote Chris Rock from a few years ago, “you think they allergic to food in Somalia?!”

    Now to play devil’s advocate: I don’t know how big the school is where your boys attend, however I can imagine it’s probably bigger than a one room school house, where the bully stays outside chopping chords of wood for the woodstove instead of learning his marks.

    So, when your boys have special food allergies, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones, it can get hectic and fall to the way side, in the minds of the food director. He or she is only one person, and when making meals en masse, probably overlooked the fact that your beloved children can’t have nuts.

    Here’s the likely thought process of the food director: We need a bunch of bag lunches. We need a meal that kids love and is easy to make in bulk. Kids love PB and Js. PB and Js are easy to make. Let’s start making PB and Js.

    I’m just saying that again, trying to placate everyone, special needs were overlooked for a select minority, which is a shame. It’s a damn shame, and for that I’m sorry. But this person is only human, and in a utilitarian sense, trying to make the most people happy at once.

    Again, I’m just sayin…

  6. That isn’t so bad. You had an off day. With all that you handle and go through, you are human in the end- just like the rest of us. I think if you want to apologize than you should but STOP beating yourself up- you have to be gentle to yourself…. cut yourself some slack. It makes my heart sad to think of you being so hard on yourself. WE all make mistakes sometimes….and be sure, nobody is perfect- ya better get that idea out of your head right now… sista….

    It’s motherly instinct to protect our kids, especially if they are dealing with special challenges that you work so hard to nurture and ya feel like someone just ran him over with a verbal smack down. I would have been taken off guard.

    I learned the hard way to not to “react” immediately when someone says, “You child blah-blah” I say, “OK, let me talk to David and I’ll get right back to you” so I can hear his side. They have a side too. The nutritionist should not be so willy nilly with the PB&J’s – some kids have a reaction if a peanut even touches their arm, let alone gets eaten. I take anaphylactic attacks seriously and thank the good Lord I don’t have to deal with that. Um…. SEVERE ALLERGIC REACTION could kill your son. Yeah, I would have blown too!

    So, you blew. Say sorry if you feel the need (which is pretty big of you, not many people would do that) and let yourself off the hook! I demand it! 🙂

  7. “My son, even though he has Asperger’s, still has a strong social sense of knowing when someone is upset, and he wants to fix it.”

    I think it’s just a stereotype that such behavior wouldn’t be typical of AS. We do tend to have trouble with subtle displays of emotions and minor social niceties, but a baby crying? That’s pretty obvious. And caring is not affected by the autism spectrum.

  8. Regarding the allergy incident – I’m surprised they’d serve that kind of food in a school setting. My brother got a note home with a list of things that at least one child in his school is seriously allergic to and a warning not to send any of those things in his lunch, just in case. I thought anyone who worked making meals at a school would get a similar list of ‘banned foods’. Even if they didn’t, if I was cooking food for a large bunch of kids, I’d avoid nuts and peanuts just in case because so many kids are allergic (and unlike adults, may not be vigilant enough to avoid eating those foods – though kids with allergies are often quite vigilant about avoiding the allergen anyway).

  9. Hi Ettina- welcome to The Den! I’m so glad you stopped by to comment. I totally agree that caring is not affected by the autism spectrum, but many other people (read: uneducated people) think it is. I think there’s even a spectrum within Asperger’s, as there is with many other disabilities. Also, the allergy incident still has me all hot and bothered. FINALLY the elementary school cafe’ has a list of all the kids with food allergies and it’s the end of October. I am NOT a happy momma about that. It took me yelling at the food services director to get that list posted. It shouldn’t have to take that kind of behaviour.

    JavaQueen- so is it Java, Queen, or JQ? 😉 You know I love ya no matter what your blog handle is. Yeah, you’re right, I should have said “let me find out what happened from C’s point of view and I’ll get back to you.” but instead MommaBear came out in full force. Oh well. I am very protective of my kids, especially when it comes to Casey.

    J.- You’re right that our school is small. What they’re doing is alternating the half day of school sack lunches with sub sandwiches one month and PB&J the next month. I had assumed that it was always going to be sub sandwiches and not PB&J. We have a game plan now where I’ll let the office know on the PB&J month that the boys need an alternative lunch and they’ll make it for us. I have been harping on the school for a long time about food allergies because what happens if one kid gets a food that could make them ill or is potentially fatal? What if that PB&J sandwich went home to a family who has a younger sibling with a deadly peanut allergy? I know they’re (the food services staff) trying to feed a huge group of kids and trying to do it efficiently, but all I ask is that they watch out for those who have dietary needs (even though I was told that “by law we don’t have to make dietary accommodations”.)

  10. la- I didn’t mean to miss you in my responses! Forgive me!! You’re right that I need to make lists. Then I’d have to make a master list of all the lists I’d make. LOL Being gentle with myself? That’s something I don’t know if I can learn that. 😦

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