Or rather, "Taking Autism Out Of The House."
Husband: Hey, let's get out of the house today. Let's all go run to the store to get a few groceries.
Her Highness: Hmmm, it would be easier and faster and less expensive if I go by myself.
Husband: Nah, we all need to get out. Let's go.
Her Highness: Fine. Let's go. But Princess #2 doesn't want to go, so it might be touch and go.
Husband: (in spite of past evidence to the contrary) She'll be fine!
So yeah, the first part of the trip goes smashingly well. But she becomes increasingly agitated and I know the signs. She's still cute, but the signs are there to my trained eye. She's becoming hyper-stimulated to sights, sounds, smells, voices, and heaven knows what else. Husband thinks she's doing a great job and she is... but we need to get her little butt out of there before all hell breaks loose. Her signs that things are going to go downhill look like "cute" little misbehaviors that people are chuckling at. She notices this, and it's not encouraging her. It's just making her realize that ZOMG!!! Oh NOES! Peoplz are Staring!!!!11!1! This begins to really agitate her and the signs just get to be worse, but my other daughters and my husband are oblivious.
All I want is an Advil and a drink. My mouth feels like a glue stick. I manage to keep her Grabby Grabby Goober hands busy and her from darting away by holding her wrist and playing a shopping game. I let her sneak her lactose-free chocolate into the cart when Daddy isn't looking. I let her grab a quart of lactose-free vanilla ice cream. I coax her, I respond to her silly conversations, and I smile when people tell me I have the patience of a saint as my 9 year old nags in the background about how she's not allowed to spend her gift card on edible things and should wait until she can choose something that will last more than a couple of hours before she poops it out.
Then we stand in line and the struggle to find either a line without candy and junk food or a line that's moving quickly begins. We managed to find a fast-moving line, hallelujah. I think our Autism Angel was watching out for us today, at least for a little while.
But I think we overworked our poor Autism Angel. Because on the way home from Evil Walmart Corporation we stopped at Price Chopper for deli. She freaked the hell out as we pulled in, but Daddy really needed deli and Her Highness has been battling a migraine for a few days now thanks to really crappy weather. There was no way I was coming back out in this hot, muggy weather with a dizzying migraine for fricking deli, milk, bread, and strawberries. But as we pressed our luck, freak out she did. And I did what no parent is supposed to do in order to get good behavior from a tantruming child.
I bribed her.
"Honey, how would you like to show Daddy where we get your buffalo chicken wings?"
"Let's go! Then I'll eat some!"
Magic. But then she knew we were going to the deli. We went to the deli earlier in the week and she was magnificent. She had a sample of ham. She remembered this and demanded that we get ham and she get another sample. That was The Most Important Thing. Somehow as she cradled her container of fresh buffalo chicken from the cafe at Price Chopper, she tantrumed over the fact that we weren't magically and immediately transported to the counter that produces black forest ham.
For realz, yo.
We get there, she gets her ham because the deli people love her but they've never seen her like this and they're terrified of her. She's ranting and screaming, and people waiting for their deli products innocently are expecting her head to start spinning and spewing demon vomit.
"I want ham! HAM! I WANT HAM! I HATE DADDY! FEED MEEEEEEEEEEE!"
Princess #1 decides to try to help, and she does, but then Daddy tries to help and makes matters worse. Somehow he's become her object of rage. Daddy is Evil. Daddy is her Obstacle to Ham even though he totally caved on the buffalo chicken wings.
I pull her aside to calm her down and chastize her for acting like a wild person in public, telling her how unacceptable the tantrum is, and simultaneously giving the deli lady our order because Husband doesn't know what we need. I have to stimulate her physically so I give her "soft tickles" up and down her arms while I'm talking, and she's soothed. We move on. I keep a tight clamp on her wrist. I let her choose the flavor for her yogurt and her soymilk and let her "help" choose the few remaining items we need to keep her focused. Things are good.
Then we get to the check out and suddenly she hates Daddy again. The tantrum-like behavior starts up again and she's That Kid and I'm That Mom and I have to raise my voice so that the cashier can hear me and I hand my husband the checkbook so he can hear what he needs to do. He gave me the checkbook and decided he was going to try to calm her down and then take her outside but that was making her rabid and she was beginning to hyperventilate. I had to shout to put her down, then gave him the checkbook again and grabbed her wrists and shouted in her face, "WE'RE GOING OUTSIDE NOW, STOP SCREAMING."
As we walked out I clamped on her wrist again and talked to her in a firm voice telling her how inappropriate her behavior was, but how I understood how upset she was. I reminded her of the fruit and chicken we bought for her and how it was great that we were going home now just like she wanted. She was suddenly a different child. Slowing breath, slowing tears, head down, still grumbling, but allowing me to lead her. Not the most agreeable attitude, but allowing me to lead her. Shortly after, Husband followed behind with the other two girls and she flipped out again, so I turned her away and kept walking her toward the car.
"Oh look! The car! Let's keep going!"
We get all packed in and are headed home, and she's holding her biggest prize: the buffalo chicken. She wants to eat it in the car but doesn't want to ruin her pink booster seat or her pink shirt, so she agreed with rude face-making to wait until we got home to eat it.
Husband: "You should have gone shopping by yourself."
Her Highness: "No, really?"