To quote Parker, "I'm frustrated."
I love that I can now quote him, especially after basically no language for the first 10 years of life, at 16 he gives me the best quotes "Hold your horses." "You can't fire me, I'm a Cubs fan!" but hearing the words "I'm frustrated" is like music to my ears. Not because I want him to be frustrated, of course, that part is heartbreaking - but because he is using his words to tell me what he's feeling instead of physically lashing out at me and me guessing what is going on.
I'm going to take my own advice and use my words... here we go.
I am so frustrated. It's really hard to get out any words past that because I am SO frustrated. Our lives aren't always particularly easy. Life is sometimes overwhelming and always meticulously planned out. Even when it doesn't feel like we are planning, it's second nature to us and what we do. For the past year I've been planning, trying to figure out how to make something work. Finally, a plan was in place and as quickly as it was an option that came together it's gone and I am frustrated.
One of the goals for Parker for school is to go off campus for lunch. Within walking distance is McDonald's where many kids go. The problem has been, Parker doesn't like anything on the menu. Given his sensory issues, feeding him is - difficult, to say the least. And he has to eat. This is his lunch, he has to eat. (*No, I am not at all upset that my son doesn't like McDonald's or fast food in general, it's a good problem to have but sometimes a problem none the less.)
This summer McDonald's brought "McBites" to our menus. My aunt got Parker to try them and he loved them. Like typical families we stopped at the McDonald's drive thru multiple times over the summer for McBites and fries.
Unless you have a child who is difficult to feed, I am sure you may not understand the complete joy this can bring when you need/want something quick on the go - but trust me, for those of us that this isn't an option for - it's kinda like a holiday when it happens... and we celebrated all summer long.
It was perfect for our transition back to school. FINALLY, Parker could go to McDonald's with his friends at lunch. He could be a 16 year old kid. Independent. Ordering for himself. Hanging out with friends at lunch. Eating. Typical.
Typical 16 year old.
His teacher and I talked out a plan, we would get him transitioned back to school, into the routine and then starting with once a week with his parapro in the distance start adding this to his schedule. It was exciting. I was so excited for him. We were ready.
Then... tonight. Tonight. Ugh. Tonight.
After picking Allison up from cheer practice we had planned to swing through the drive through for McBites. I pulled up and ordered. "2 regular McBite meals with Sprites, no dipping sauce." And that's when the words I dreaded came. "I'm sorry we no longer serve McBites."
Parker processed what he said as quickly as I did. My handsome 16 year old in the back seat turned into my melting down 4 year old who had just been told "no". While he was upset about the present, I was crushed over the future. Thankfully, we both handled our meltdowns gracefully with nice words, nice hands and talking over solutions.
Inside though, I was behind livid with the situation. As a special needs parent you strive for moments when your child can be "just like everyone else" even if for a moment. Life isn't easy with everything that goes on inside of his mind and body non stop. He does his best to hold himself together, to have friends, to fit in, to just enjoy life - and he DOES enjoy life. He's always smiling, always laughing even when you can see the uncertainty and distress that he tries to hide.
I know, life is about change. Everything is constantly changing. There is nothing seasonal about McBites, they aren't like a Shamrock Shake or something pumpkin for fall. It's a bite sized piece of chicken, completely acceptable to have on the menu year round.
Consistency. It is the key to our life, to our success, to our "normal". It's really not as difficult as it seems - why can't McDonald's apply it to their McMenu instead of McChanging things all the McTime. This is the 2nd time they have had something he actually liked (the first was the Chicken selects) and the 2nd time it's been taken off the menu.
I'm sure there are reasons that not every McDonald's carries the same menu (not one I will find acceptable because I believe in consistency) but I'm sure there are reasons. That rules out stopping at McDonald's when we travel. Now we are crossing it off our local options too while I return to square 1 of figuring out how to provide my son with a typical off campus lunch with his friends.
I understand in the big picture of life, this is small. Very small. Trust me I have way, WAY bigger things to worry about and figure out solutions for. It doesn't make the disappointment hurt less or the frustration go away quite yet. Once in a while, it'd be nice to have the consistency for him. For something so "simple" and taken for granted by many. To not have to worry about menu items changing, to work on a plan and be able to see it through - to have control over those little things that I have no control over. Just for a simple McBites lunch during school.
Sigh. Back to square 1... and holding a grudge of not forgiving McDonald's any time soon.