So, that was not fun, and I wasn't even there.
My mom took my brother and his wife and son, plus all my kids, to the museum rounds. Now, usually they're pretty decent in museums. They're a little too familiar, perhaps, and tend to treat them with a bit of a casual air - these are their museums, the ones they go to often, the ones they know and love, and they tend to be a bit more confident of themselves than most kids.
Usually still respectful, though.
Only, unbeknownst to all involved, Mr B had some candy with red dye right before they headed off. He'd checked it with ep, ep thought that the purple candy had purple dye (not red plus blue - hey, there's purple dye for clothing that is just purple all by itself...), so he gave the go-ahead.
As usual, the effects weren't immediate. It takes a little while for the process to cause a reaction, but it does. Maybe not every kid reacts (the other three certainly don't have a huge crisis reaction), but oh, holy pete, does Mr B react.
He becomes demanding. rude. inflexible. weepy. angry. volatile. super-sensitive to anything that might be at all unfair (read: selfish). demanding, did I say demanding? pushy. obnoxious. unsafe, disrespectful, unkind.
My mom was mortified, because he yelled at another family when they came near something he was doing, told them they couldn't come over there. It was a black family. He doesn't care what ethnicity or race they are, he just wanted to do it By Himself. But my mom cared that they might think that race was the issue, and she was trying to wrangle the other kids so couldn't go apologize before that family left, with unhappy looks shot in my mom's direction. The idea that another family had their day marred by Mr B is a seriously unhappy thought for me.
Mom is used to us being so on top of the dye and food (fructose malabsorption) stuff that if an error occurs - which it does now and then - we know and can warn her. Or we hold Mr B out of the mix, if it is likely to be a bad one.
And the reaction is usually even worse on the disregulation stage. He's just enough out of kilter to start with, that he can't get back on top of his behavior. Usually in the regulation side of the year, he can manage himself back down to just a constant grumble and periodic bouts of whining. Not stomping, yelling, and shoving. Certainly not in public. Being unkind is unlike him, too. That's usually his greatest strength.
Booger, booger, crap.
Add in that he's had several days of overstimulation and not enough sleep (yay, cousin D is here! play play play play PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY), and ... holy ouch.
Now, Mr G didn't help. He'd 'just' had the tired and overwhelmed and maybe a little disregulation (though he's still not following the old pattern, that I can see - definitely more disregulated in little bursts as the testosterone hits his bloodstream in that kind of random pattern of a few days on and a week or so off). Mr G's introversion had him in snapping turtle mode - either trying to hide in his shell, or snapping at people who made him come out. Which then cycled into it seeming more okay for everyone else to be snappish and rude and dismissive of the rules of behavior, which then modeled downwards to the other kids, who then cycled further out of control.
Lordy. What fun. Nephew was in tears several times. They usually do a decent job of figuring out who will sit in the front seat of the shuttle around the outside of the museum, but this time the driver had to tell them to behave. There was that yelling-at-the-other-family incident. And a lot of begging, whining, pushing the other younger cousin, screaming, crying, and shouting.
Well, that was a fun outing. Yeah.
And then there was me talking to ep on the phone from work, and that sinking feeling of dread before I gear up to handle the issue. Then talking to my mom (who I think was a little overstating how my brother and SIL felt about it, because she really doesn't want them to vanish and not come back here, and was interpreting their statement that it would be a long time before they came back as 'because of today, it will be a long time before we come back, and I don't blame them' - but my brother had already said to me that they didn't expect to come back for at least a few years - there are family reunions every two years, so this is essentially an extra trip for them, and the next reuinion is at their place, next summer). But mom was still hurting and angry and horribly embarassed by their behavior - mortified, I think would be about right. My brother and SIL had forgiven the kids long since, because they are kids - they're imperfect, and they really don't see how the kids USUALLY behave, so this wasn't a long fall from usual, it was just 'kids messing around and not listening'. Cousin D had also already forgotten about the problems, and was on to the next thing. Phew.
Still, we expect the kids to handle the problems they create, and build the skills of saying sorry and managing their relationships. That takes practice, so we'll hold them to it. Not unkindly, but hold them to it, no letting them off the hook.
So then there was talking to the kids, on the phone (still at my cube, with the coworkers suddenly going quiet in the middle of the conversation, but me too stuck in it with Mr G to pause and take my cell phone and go elsewhere, and besides, despite the fact that the kids behaved badly, I don't mind people knowing that I'll enforce that they do have to manage the problem and make amends, mend fences and tend to their relationships - it's not FUN, but it's okay. I just won't tell the kids that there were about eight people very quietly listening over the cube walls, because for them it should be a private conversation - it isn't like they'll meet these people. The acoustics in there are amazing - I can hear everyone's conversations about three cubes down and four across - and I'm in the corner, so that's a big space.) Sigh.
Mr G is so much his type that he had a hard time picturing that anyone else's perspective of the situation could be at all accurate. He was quite disturbed and offended and hurt that anyone might think he had been stubborn, rude, or disrespectful. He didn't read his choice to not speak and just stand there and stare at the others (and at Baba) in response to their questions as 'rude' - he tends to think that people know what he's thinking, because HE knows what he's thinking. Uh. Just thinking respectful thoughts doesn't constitute being respectful. Sigh.
Mr B was really not much 'there' on the phone, he was vague and wandery, which made me a little suspicious way back in the back of my head. But it wasn't until much later (after we got home from saying goodbye and mending fences with my brother and family - for extra fun, this happened on their last night here) that he asked for another of the same candy item he'd eaten before he left for the museum trip. Uh. You ate THAT? BINGO, we have a winner. That'd set him off on the best of days. Crud.
He was still locked up even then (rocked and twisted back and forth, saying that it was the only thing he wanted, it wasn't fair, it wasn't fair, it wasn't fair, cried, rocked back and forth some more, insisted that he couldn't change his mind, it had to be that, it had to be that, it had to be that - it's the weird repetition of the same same same same that is the most obvious cue that something is amiss in his brain chemistry - he gets stuck in a loop and can't get out, it's like a panic attack plus OCD). But he does tend to get a better grip when he understands that it isn't HIM driving this desperate need reaction, it is the chemical reaction in his body that's doing it (a sudden drop in tryptophan levels creates a change in serotonin in the brain, and the result, according to research, is a much more severe reaction to the idea of 'unfair' - much more stubborn and emotionally locked up and resistant to the idea of giving in or letting things proceed even if they're imperfect). He was at that point willing to be comforted, climbed on my lap (oof, he's getting big for that - he's still small for his age, but he's seven...), cuddled in, rocked a bit more, and then said that there was still nothing else he wanted, but if I'd get him the ones like that candy that were the right color (and there were some, only they ended up going home with another child instead of Mr B at Easter), then he would be okay.
And then later he locked up on needing more dinner instead, after everyone else was done and headed to bed. Sigh. But I got him more dinner, because the additional food might help keep the reaction moving through (maybe, it just seemed to make sense - provide more sources of tryptophan, maybe it will help), and then off to bed for us all.
It did generate some good conversations, though. Mr G and I discussed the idea that there is more than just the reality that is one's own perspective - that the outer observation of others was as valid as the inner observation of self - different, but valid. Neither may be entirely accurate, too - Mr G tends not to notice the time span he spends thinking, so he can't see that he's standing there for a long time not moving or doing anything, in response to others. For him, that's immediate. For others, it's WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR????? Oh. Really? Huh. We talked about introverts and extroverts, and how annoying it is to have a mom who is an extrovert (that'd be me), but that at the same time, it will mean he's going to have some skills around handling extroverts that his dad didn't learn as a kid (his entire family is introverts).
Mr B also was easier about letting Mr G alone, because we could explain that his need to be-with (mr EXTROVERT) was not any more valid than Mr G's need to be alone, and so he didn't get to force Mr G to play with him - Mr G was done, he really needed some down time, please respect that. And he did, easily - it made sense, and more importantly, it was Not Personal. It wasn't a rejection, because it was about Mr G, not about their relationship.
My mom also ended up explaining Mr G's type to another of the cousins, and talked about the strengths and weaknesses of each type with her. I think explaining that to someone else also cements the idea that this is a skills issue, and not personal. It was not fun, but it wasn't a failure so much as a problem. Talking types allowed it to take that form, and we went from 'they were awful' to 'they need to do some skills building around this - and it's going to take a long time, because these are complex skills'.
I'm still particularly unhappy about the other family whose day was dinged - and possibly badly so - by Mr B. There's no way for me to make amends on that one. All I can do is make sure Mr B understands that even though he really doesn't care what ethnicity or race someone is, other people may think he does, and his only choice is to accord everyone equal kindness and regard, because the equal misery and disrespect will translate differently to others. It's like the whole 'all happy families are happy in the same way, all dysfunctional families are dysfunctional in their own ways' thing - people respond reasonably similarly to positive interactions, and uniquely (based on their own wounds) to negative ones.
So much to teach. So much understanding of the world, of people, and of how to relate to others to pass on, coach, and model. It's a good thing I still have a few years left to do it in. (nobody remind me that Mr G will be off to college in about 8 years, okay?)