This past weekend we took a little road trip.
And by little I mean 12 hours each way.
Because obviously that was a good idea.
About halfway through the trip, somewhere in Virginia, we figured it was a good time to stop for some food.
Faith has food jags….meaning, she will go for a stretch of time only eating 2-3 foods. Right now it is chicken nuggets, pizza and bananas. Given our limited menu options, we figured McDonalds would work. Plus, they had super cute Wizard of Oz toys that Faith has been asking for.
As always, I began to prep Faith for what was about to happen. I told her that we would be leaving the freeway, turning into a town, and then stopping at McDonalds. We would then get out of the van and go inside, place an order for chicken nugget Happy Meal, then take the food to our car.
She understood and seemed quite happy about the pit stop.
(You knew it was coming didn’t you)
as soon as we entered the McDonalds parking lot, she began to fixate…..and fixate hard….on the Good Witch toy.
I naively thought I could work her through it if they didn’t happen to have that particular toy.
Yup, even after 10 years of this, I still thought I could.
Hey you…there in the back…I see you laughing.
So, we entered McDonalds. A very full McDonalds. A very, very full McDonalds.
Faith waited fairly patiently in line. Fixated the whole time on the Good Witch.
Do you see where this is headed?
She approached the counter, using “please” and her inside voice, she asked for nuggets and a Good Witch toy.
“Sorry, we don’t have that one.”
Faith went totally still and repeated that she wanted nuggets and the Good Witch….to which the cashier said, “We only have the Tin Man.”
Faith began shaking and turned to me. “I said I want the Good Witch.” I physically stepped between her and the counter and wrapped her shoulders in my arms to start some deep pressure in hopes of refocusing her.
Screaming, freaking out, nuclear meltdown.
Faith is almost 100lbs now and if she doesn’t want to move, there is not much I can do, but I did at least get her out of the line and to the wall near the bathrooms. Meltdown continued. She was hitting, pulling my clothes, crying, yelling….the usual.
In the very, very full McDonalds.
In the very, very full McDonalds filled with what felt like the most judgemental people in Virginia.
Staring. Whispering. Pointing. Shaking their heads. Tsk-tsking.
Because I’m sure their child has never/would never act like this. Because their children are/will be perfect.
After about 5 minutes, which felt like several hours, Faith started to come down from the edge. She was starting to respond to my calm, soothing talking. She stopped hitting. She was catching her breath.
During the entire meltdown, I had stayed fully present with her. Calm as I could possibly be.
Then, I heard “Ummm, Ma’am, excuse me….” At that point, Faith was on the down side of it, so I turn and looked at the person.
It was the cashier, who had come out from behind the counter and was standing behind me.
Figuring we were about to be asked to leave, I steeled myself and turned toward her.
“Ma’am, I went into the back and I found the very last Good Witch for her. Come on back to the register and let’s get the Happy Meal.”
Right then, amid the whispers and judgemental stares, I started crying. Hard.
I eased Faith back to the register and explained to her that they had found the very last Good Witch for her.
I looked at the cashier, and while still crying, I told her “I’m so sorry, she’s autistic and she has really been wanting this one toy.”
To which she comfortingly said “I know”.
And I cried more.
And to all of you judging my child, me and my parenting when you don’t have a clue about what is going on….