FatherSon Ventures

Building a Relationship through Adventure

Temperamental Bias

Written By: Scot Butwell - Feb• 04•18

In Your Life Story, Tristin Rainer writes:

You have the power in the present to affect the past by how you remember it. This doesn’t mean you seek to distort the past. It means that you can more accurately recall it if you examine your temperamental bias and try to correct your lens. If you tend toward the bright memory cliches of a Pollyanna, it means going deeper and being more honest about negative feelings. If you tend towards melancholia, it means looking for pleasant memories to mix with the dark.”

I confess to having a temperamental bias: mine is to see everything with rose-colored glasses. L once told me the truth could be staring me in the face, and I wouldn’t see it. I have a glass half-full demeanor, and it is difficult to change my temperamental bias, just as it would be to change the color of my skin.

So I am not going to skip over D and my last visit to McDonald’s. It was a day I should have known wasn’t a good day to go. The lack of an empty seat, plus the high-pitched squeals and screams were louder than usual; these should have been warning signs, alerting me to leave.

I briefly thought about making up a phony excuse to tell D why we had to leave, but when he disappeared into the play structure, I chose to ignore the voice inside me saying, this is not a good day to come to McDonald’s.

I knew the shrieks might tip his senses overboard, and I would be responsible for whatever happened, because I know he has difficulty regulating his body in extra loud environments.

And then I heard it. A long wailing cry coming from inside a yellow octagon. I followed the sound of the crying to the octagon, but a mother beat me there. She was holding her daughter. The girl was small and frail. Three years old. I asked the mom what happened, and the few details she gave me confirmed my suspicion: D was responsible

“It was a boy.”

“Do you know which one?”

“The one with the hood.”

My son. He had been on top of her daughter, and when I found D in a tunnel, he admitted to the mom’s details. So we left, and I seriously pondered this question, should I keep bringing my son to McDonald’s?

There was an incident at an indoor playground when D pushed a boy into a wall, leaving a huge bump on his forehead and two pissed off parents, when he was on sensory overload.

We immediately left, and due to his habit of pushing down younger kids on playgrounds, I considered taking him to the police station to have an officer explain that when he gets older he can go to jail for hitting a person.

There have been a few other “close calls.” And many good days. This means that my discretion is absolutely critical to determine when is a good or bad time to take D to McDonald’s.

Thus, when I saw there were few seats in the dining area and heard the ear-piercing shrieks, I should have listened to the voice in me saying, this is not a good day to come to McDonald’s.

I knew it was more noise than his sensory system could handle. And so I was responsible—just as much as D—but I rationalized D needs practice regulating his body in loud environments, so he will be able to handle a noisy classroom or playground in a school setting.

I finally concluded after deliberating for five minutes that D deserves to keep coming to McDonald’s. He is learning to regulate his body—just as all kids are learning different things.

And I am learning too. I am learning the importance of understanding my son’s body and being willing to explain to him when—and why—it’s not a good time for us to come to Mcdonald’s.

To the mother of the three-year-old girl in the yellow octagon, I wish I could explain to her how D’s sensory system is different, and it doesn’t work in the same way as most other kids.

But how do you explain this to an angry parent of a neuro-typical kid, who probably doesn’t understand there is even such a thing as a child with a different sensory system?

How do you explain tiny canals in our ears integrate external information from our senses, and if the circuitry is impaired, this causes kids like D to not be able to feel their own body in space?

This is what D’s OT told me.

She explained to me about the proprioceptive, vestibular and a third part of his sensory system, but don’t ask me to be able to explain it. I just know his sensory system works differently than most other kids.

So, I guess, it goes back to me learning to recognize D’s sensory limits for his body and being willing to tell D when it’s a good and not-so-good time for us to come to McDonald’s Play Place.

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