I needed an extra hour at work yesterday so I asked my in-laws meet me at my daughter’s after care. Then I forgot my phone at work and was really late, so they arrived before me. The first thing out of my daughter’s mouth when I walked up was, “Mommy, I’m mad because Ms. J said I couldn’t have snack like all the other kids because of my special diet. I hate my special diet.” And that was how my in-laws were alerted to current plan of action.
My husband went over there last night to grab the cloth diapers they forgot and ended up staying a long time. I knew that whatever was going down over there, it wasn’t good.
I’ll probably never know exactly what was said at my in-laws place. All I do know is that now my husband is not sure if the negative social/emotional experience of being “left out” and “different” is worth the possible gains of following this diet strictly. He’s fine with us doing it at home, but he’s not sure he will support making our daughter follow it at school, after care or any other social situation (like the birthday party last week). He says he didn’t realize it had to be followed so strictly. And when I ask if he thinks thing have gotten better, he throws it back in my face saying that if things are already improving and we aren’t following it strictly yet (we’re still using Grape Flavored Kid’s Claritin and Strawberry flavored Tom’s of Maine Toothpaste, to name a few things we still need to change) then why do we need to adhere completely to the diet at all?
I think you can imagine how this conversation went.
But honestly, it’s hard for me to argue with that.
I mean sure, it would be great to know how awesome it could be. But if things are better now without turning our lives completely upside down, maybe I should just ease up and enjoy this improvement.
I acknowledged that this sucks for our daughter. I know how shitty it is to follow a strict elimination diet. Of course I don’t know what it’s like to do that when you’re 5-years old and just starting Kindergarten. Honestly, I don’t think she feels weird or different or judged by the kids. Mostly I think she just wants to eat whatever they are eating. She is VERY motivated by junk food.
Unfortunately she seems to be too young and unaware to realize that she has been in a better mood for the past week. When I ask if she feels better she immediately says that her cough isn’t as bad. She can’t seem to recognize that she isn’t a raging bitch anymore, that she’s actually pleasant to be around for most of the day.
I told my husband that he should look into the diet more carefully and decide what he’s comfortable with. I also told him that if he decides it isn’t in our daughter’s best interest to follow the diet strictly, and she eventually backslides into her past destructive behavior (or it becomes clear that she’s struggling to meet the social or educational demands put upon her in Kindergarten) that HE will have to be the one to research possible solutions AND he will be one to follow through on them, even if that means taking time of work to take her to appointments or therapies. I made clear it wasn’t an ultimatum, I’m simply unwilling to spend hundreds of hours of my life searching for strategies if he’s unwilling to really give this a try.
I’m so annoyed and frustrated with my in-laws right now. I understand that they only have our daughter’s best interest at heart, but it’s clear that sometimes they confuse “current happiness” with “long term contentment.” Sure it sucks for her right now, but if this helps her focus, levels her moods and reduces her anxiety, she’ll be better off for it. And honestly, if she continues acting the way she does, she’ll isolate and ostracize herself because no one will want to be around with that kind of attitude. She already struggles in social situations and has no real meaningful connections with anyone in her peer group. If she weren’t so irritable, with such rigid expectations, she might actually be able to make a friend. Wouldn’t that be worth eating a slightly different snack than everyone else?
If the diet doesn’t end up making a significant difference, she can start eating what everyone else is eating, and in a month she won’t remember that she had to eat a different snack for a few months.
And now it’s midnight and tomorrow is the first day of school, AND Back to School Night, AND I have en emotional hangover.
Life has such perfect timing.
Have your in-laws (or parents) ever overstepped their bounds in frustrating ways? How do you handle it when they don’t support your parenting?