Yesterday, Kiddo's teacher had a class picnic at her house (a short walk from the school). It was a gorgeous day - sunny, blue skies, hot. The kids played games, whacked the everloving heck out of a Nemo piñata, played in two different sprinklers, a wading pool and a super-deluxe, triple lane Slip-n-Slide. They ate pizza and chips and watermelon, they ran around, it was all good. And then.
Then it was ice cream treat time. The ice cream treats on hand were actually ice pops (apparently Popsicle is a brand name/proper noun, at least according to Blogger's spellcheck. Who knew?) in three flavors: red, blue and green. Oh, I'm sorry, "cherry, raspberry and apple" to be precise, but come on, there wasn't a drop of actual, natural anything in them - these were those kinds of pops. Kiddo came up to me as I was busily getting a lopsided sunburn by means of having begun to apply sunscreen to myself earlier that day and then being sidetracked by several kids requesting sunscreen (which: YAY kids for knowing you need and should be wearing sunscreen!) and then forgetting to finish the job on myself, and asked me if she could have one.
Now, Kiddo wasn't just asking because I'm some sort of super-strict mom who doesn't allow anything but healthy food in the house or more specifically, in her mouth. That isn't the case, I swear (she says, eyeballing the mostly empty box of Milk Duds - kept purely for medicinal purposes, really! - on her desktop and the bag of tortilla chips on the floor right next to her desk). However, with Kiddo's SPD, we've learned that we need to be careful about certain things because they throw her system totally out of whack. One of the big ones, that is in so much food - well, "fun" (aka "junk") food, anyhow - is food dye. We've learned this the hard way over the years, by tracing back sudden periods of out-of-sync behavior to a specific meal, snack or treat. Red food dye is a big one - if anything says it has any Red # Whatever, I don't let it into Kiddo's body. Same with blue (as evidenced by Kiddo's gleeful consumption of a heavily frosted, neon blue Dora cupcake at last year's preschool graduation and subsequent decline into craziness that lasted for four long days). So, I went over and checked out the ingredients on the ice pops box. Obviously, the red and blue ones were out. The green, however, well, they seemed like they might be a possibility. They *did* have blue dye and some yellow dye as well, but at the time it seemed like the green pops weren't quite as intensely colored, so I reasoned that perhaps as there was ostensibly less blue dye in the green ones than the blue ones, they'd be all right. Besides, Kiddo rarely if ever finishes an entire dessert.
Well, she finished the whole darn ice pop - whatever part of it didn't melt down the front of her, anyhow. I'd say at least 80% of the chemically delicious frozen goo was actually eaten. Within fifteen minutes of the ice pop going in to her body, the freaky behavior started coming out. She was bumping into things and kids. Her entire demeanor became suddenly obnoxious, cranky and rude. On the walk back to school she complained incessantly that her socks were hurting her, despite stopping and holding up the entire class for several minutes so she could remove her shoes, adjust her socks and rub her feet. She then jammed herself up against my side, crashing her head into me for the remainder of the walk. It was like a switch had been flipped from Sweet Kiddo to Mr. Hyde. Ugh.
The out-of-sync behavior continued into the night, with Kiddo having nightmares (highly unusual for her) and waking up at 1:30. It was nearly 3:00 before I got her adequately calmed and settled and got back into my own bed. I let her sleep in as late as possible this morning and she seemed to be doing better - she ate all her breakfast and wasn't too crabby in the car on the way to school, so I dropped her off and watched her walk in to school holding hands with two of her friends and headed off to get a massage (using the gift certificate Hubby and Kiddo gave me for Christmas - and just to give her a plug again, anyone local should really go get a massage from Joan at A Healing Sanctuary, because she is the best!) and after that, I headed over to a friend's house for lunch and a visit. It was as we were sitting at the table, eating homemade brownies and fresh strawberries and perusing the last few clues on today's NYT crossword puzzle that I heard my phone bleep. It was a text message from Kiddo's teacher. With one and a half days of school left to go this year, Kiddo had bitten a classmate on the finger (ironically enough, one of the girls with whom she'd been holding hands on her way into school this morning) and subsequently been sent to the principal's office. !!!!!
I texted back to ascertain if the classmate was okay (she was - the skin wasn't broken though she did go to the nurse who notified her mother), if Kiddo was duly remorseful (she was, and was reportedly greatly dreading the moment when I found out what had transpired), if she had apologized adequately to her friend (she had) and if I needed to come to school early. Kiddo has never been sent to the principal's office before, so I didn't know what the standard protocol is in such situations. I'd kind of hoped I would never need to learn, either, but there you have it - less than 6 hours left in her kindergarten career and there she was, getting her much-deserved chewing out (um, pun intended, now that I think about it) by the principal.
Now, I am certain that the food dye's after effects were in no small part to blame for Kiddo's wonky behavior. That isn't to say that I excuse her actions in the slightest; Kiddo has understood perfectly well for years now that biting another kid is NOT acceptable behavior. She definitely knew better, regardless of how out of whack her system was, and she absolutely needed to face the consequences of her actions. I do recognize that Kiddo was not entirely herself, though, and that the SPD had a factor in her making a bad choice. To hear Kiddo tell it, her friend was all up in her personal space while they were on the playground before lunch, and was waving her fingers in Kiddo's face. Kiddo didn't like this and decided to get the other girl to back off by promptly chomping on one of the proffered fingers. While this was a bad call in any event, Kiddo certainly is more hyper-aware of things being close to her when her system is disregulated, as it has been since the evil ice pop ingestion of yesterday afternoon. Her aide also told me that the kids didn't have snack this morning, that Kiddo was definitely not herself all morning but improved a bit after eating lunch, and that she had to do a lot of extra sensory input with Kiddo today. Kiddo was *still* cranky, clingy and not herself this evening, so I've got my fingers crossed that by tomorrow, the dye is out of her system enough that she is able to handle what will be an emotional day already. Kiddo has been sad for over a week now at the thought of the last day of school and even more so because she realizes now that this is the last day EVER for her at her current school. As excited as she is to meet new friends and go to a new school in the fall, she is still very sad to be saying goodbye. Kiddo is pretty resilient, thank goodness, so I have no doubt that she will bounce back quickly once the next few days are over and we're into the next adventure - summer camp. But in the meantime, it will be extra-extra-extra bad if she's still disregulated tomorrow and facing saying goodbye to the teacher and classmates and school she loves so much.
Yes, I am kicking myself thoroughly for having let her eat that ice pop in the first place. No, I will *not* make that mistake again. I hate that Kiddo has to suffer because of my bad judgement call. I hate that she can't have any old treat that she would like, as her friends can (well, not all of them). I wish she could go off-schedule and stay up late without it having dire consequences for days thereafter. I wish she didn't need to have a sensory diet several times a day in order to function smoothly and I wish that I didn't need to know what the first thing about a "sensory diet" even is. Heck, I wish I didn't need to know the first thing about SPD... But, it is what it is, as they say, and we have to deal with the hand we've been dealt. Our hand is full of SPD, so we'll play it the best we can. From now on, that will include *no* food dyes, no matter what color. Yeesh. I know that there are a lot worse things we could be dealing with and that our lives could be a lot more challenging than just having to manage a pretty severe case of SPD. However, this is my blog and I'm sad and exasperated and cranky and dammit, I'm gonna whine about my lot right now just because I feel like it.
Also on my mind is that one day more, and then we're facing a whole new world - summer *without* any services. Last summer, Kiddo had regular PT and OT sessions every week except for two. We've never gone this long without any services, but she's been deemed not needy enough to qualify for any extended services this year. It is the OT piece that I'm rather nervous about losing. Ten weeks without any professional oversight is a loooong chunk of time where lots of regression can occur. I'd be lying if I claimed I wasn't filled with trepidation. Kiddo will also be doing summer camp at a regular, old camp, not like the summer program she's done for the past two years which was run by her former (awesome) preschool and was a sensory-based program with specially trained teachers. I'm going to be darn sure to make sure the summer camp knows to NOT give her any food with dyes in it. (We're supposed to pack their morning and afternoon snacks as well as lunch each day, so this shouldn't be an issue.) Guess we will just have to take it one day at a time and see where we are by September...
One day more...