You know how some things are obvious, but only after you've suffered? Like when you're driving along, trying to scope out the interior decor of the homes you pass, and all of a sudden your car makes a scary bang- and- shatter type of sound. I don't know about other people, but personally I keep driving and hope it won't make a difference. I should probably check it out, pull over and call for help, but I don't. I keep going and hope it doesn't catch fire. Then some important and expensive engine part falls out.
For years, as long as we've known her, Genea has been a terror at restaurants. When she was little, we could smile and snort and pass it off as normal kid-whack-a- doodle- ness. If we went to a loud chain restaurant her funk blended in with the background. But now she's ten, and she is a big ten. Failure-to- Thrive be damned, the kid caught up and there is no chance of mistaking her for a younger child anymore.
It's much like dining with a petulant 3 year old. She shoves her way through to the table. She sits, slamming the seat back, jolting the table. Grabs my napkin roll- her own immediately in front of her- and unrolls it from the air. Two forks and a knife clang down on the table. Snatches the little cup of crayons and hordes it to herself. Finally shares with her sister, "accidentally" dumping them so they roll off different directions. Scribbles on the paper, and the table. It's amazing how noisy this can be. Kicking me. Discovers her chair squeaks and rocks it back and forth. Bumps the table every time. Reaches for her water and knocks over the salt. Kicks some more. Elbows clunk down. Pretending to choke on her water. Now taking the ice out of her water. Drops ice on her lap. Jumps up, screeches, chair hurled back in to the wall with a bang, the table jolts 2 full inches. Talking non-stop. Nonsense, interrupting, instigating with comments. We've not yet ordered.
I hope it goes without saying that we tried all the usual methods time out blah blah blah, walk to the car blah blah blah. Redirect, direct, yell, etc. Mostly the solution seemed to be to stay home and eat.
Years of this. Years.
So a week ago The Husband decides he wants to go out to eat. I'm not one to ever turn such a thing down, so I agree. Then I begin the dread- session. Sigh. Ugh. I hope she can behave. Blegh. She was such a turd last time. Ugh. I don't want to do this. I don't want to make dinner either. Argh, this is a bad idea.
It occurs to me finally (finally!), to just ask her about it. I have her come sit in the bathroom with me while I get ready to go. I bring up all the above listed behaviors and ask her what would help her feel more secure at a restaurant so she could relax. She immediately had an idea. Sit on the inside, she tells me. Sit on the inside in a booth.
Huh. I hadn't even thought of that. It sure seemed like such a big, pervasive issue should require months of therapy. Hand signals at the table, maybe a carrier pigeon to relay messages between us. Some hypnosis or maybe biofeedback. Something complicated that would take a long time.
So we sat her on the inside of a booth and she was fine.
Evidently, sitting on the outside makes her feel nervous and insecure. All those people going by and she can't control any of them and what they might do. I'm guessing there is an abandonment thread in there someplace, possibly being snatched by a stranger? All I know is sitting in a booth and giving her the inside against the wall was the big secret and our dinner was great.
All this time and I could have just asked her about it.