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A Rough Day

on August 10, 2011

Well, I certainly have more important things to write about these days, what with all the wonderful things going on in our son’s life and the amazing camp we just went to…but that’s going to have to be typed up another day, because I’m struggling to see past the hard stuff today.

I promised I would write this blog with honesty, allowing emotions to run in a way that other families will know I feel their pain. Being a family with a special needs child is not all sunshine, lollipops, and afternoon specials…there are some pretty crummy people who say some pretty crummy things when our kids are misbehaving (or rather not conforming to their ideals of how a child should act in public). So here I am, about to grump and complain about the people I came into contact with today. Why? Because it needs to get out of my head and my heart.

I took my son and my stepdaughter (who is with us for a short time this week) to the grocery store today to pick up a few items today. I figured with all of the great new techniques we had been learning (more info coming soon), it was time to not be afraid and test things out in the real world! Well I got me some real world, that’s for sure.

It all started in the pharmacy line. My son had picked out a toy boat to play with while we meandered around the store, and he all of the sudden began to cry because he thought it was broken. Well, it didn’t appear broken and I couldn’t figure out why he was so upset, so I just gritted my teeth and tried to smile to let him know it was ok, then went on about my business. Well, the man in front of me was becoming increasingly agitated with Alex’s escalating tantrum (which is admittedly, a little grating on the nerves when endured over long periods of time). I could tell by his body language that he was probably going to give me a dirty look soon. Still, I held my ground and rode out the tantrum because, at that point, nothing was going to calm my son down.

Suddenly, that man in front of me turned around angrily and said “Would you just please take care of *that*?!!” With the word “that”, he gestured toward my crying son as if he was a thing that needed shutting up, not a child that needed understanding and comfort. I was mortified. I was taken aback. I was pissed. Did he just call my son a “that?” Really?

It took every ounce of dignity I could muster to say, “for your information, my son is autistic and doesn’t understand what is going on.” After I made my comment, I turned my cart around and walked away from the man, seething. The only reason I didn’t stick around was because I was about ready to ram him with my cart or punch him in the face. Since neither scenario would have gone well for me or my children, I chose to walk straight to the checkout line with fire in my heart and tears in my eyes. I cried as I bagged my groceries.

When I was semi-calm, I explained to my 13-year-old stepdaughter (for whom I was trying to set the good example) that I was sorry I lost my cool and reacted the way I did. I admitted to her that I ultimately “turned the other cheek” because I had felt about ready to smack that man. To my surprise, she replied that she had been about ready to punch him in the face! Appropriate? No. Ridiculously fulfilling? Yes, very much so.

I wish I could say that this was the only bad experience of the day, but we encountered something similar at the bookstore we went to next. Now, bookstores are kinda like libraries – people want quiet; I know that. But I also know that I can’t hide my son from everything we need to do as a family. I am done with avoiding life because my son is too difficult to handle for everyone else in the world. Deal with it. I do.  I have to get him out of our comfort zone if we expect to grow.

So today was a rough day. The good news? My stepdaughter bonded with Alex in a way she hasn’t been doing lately. She was just as defensive as I was over him, and I am glad she feels that way. I am glad she jumped at the chance to say to the world “This is *my* brother – he is different and you need to get over it.”

Today was a little disappointing, yes. But every downfall brings us closer to the good stuff as we stick to our guns and lead our kids through the “mousetraps” of life.

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One response to “A Rough Day

  1. Melissa says:

    Kristi you did great! It is so hard to not faun all over a crying child. It’s a mothers instinct to sooth. So as difficult as it was to not coddle him you stayed strong. That is an amazing feat in itself. I think you also gave the gentleman in front of you something to think about. You were to the point but not rude from my take on the scenario. I think you are teaching your son invaluable coping skills. And even took the time to teach a stranger the importance of tolerance. I hope that man has learned to think twice about judging people he knows nothing about! You may have just saved another mother from suffering the same fate you had to. Stay strong mommy!!! I think today deserves an A!!!

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