The wonders of facebook, you just never know what you’re going to find or how you’re going to be surprised.
Last week, it was my mom who surprised me. She shared this graphic:
It didn’t surprise me that she would share such a thing because honestly, our immediate family is about the most supportive and encouraging group with whom we could hope to surround ourselves and our son. What surprised me was the confession that she posted along with the graphic: This is so true. I am guilty. I have learned so much from our special grandson, Benton, and his siblings and especially Jody and Chris.
“I am guilty.” Wow. Just wow.
Truth is, I think we’re all guilty to an extent. I know I was. In our pre-autism days, I’d have been one of the first ones to think someone needed to do something and fast. Now I know. I know because we live it.
It wasn’t long ago that Ben, Ali, and I were at our favorite local grocery store. We had done our shopping and had progressed to the checkout line when Ben decided he needed to go do one last dance number in the big circle mirror in the corner. That mirror is only one reason we love this store, but it is the biggest (and only necessary) reason for our reflection magnet of a son. We also love that it is small; it is clean; it is fairly quiet, but people don’t get upset by any noise he makes, in fact they tend to enjoy him; it has high quality food; and the owners and employees are just some of the nicest people we’ve ever known. They help and they care. They smile at and talk with our kids, not to, with. But I digress.
Ben wanted to go do another Wiggles number in the mirror, but our checkout had already begun, so I told him, “Sorry, Buddy. We’re all done with that mirror. It’s time to go home.”
He wasn’t buying it. He watched me with a side glance and began inching away from me. I’ve been in this situation enough to know he was about to bolt. Thankfully, because we were exactly where we were, I wasn’t worried about his safety, but I had told him no and needed to stick with that to help him learn that “no” means “no”, even if he wants “yes”.
I wasn’t looking to cause a scene and it was a fairly quiet time as I think there were only a handful of customers in the entire store at that time, and certainly no one in the general vicinity I needed to worry about bumping into, so I crouched down on his level, grabbed him quick as I said, “I gotcha!” and hoisted him on my shoulder. He giggled and we were happily on our way around the checkout when I heard it, a long exasperated sigh followed by a mumbled, “Well, I guess that’s one way to get your kid through the store.”
I don’t know who said it. I know the general area, so I know it wasn’t an employee but a fellow customer. I didn’t look at her because I knew if I did, I’d likely start sharing with her exactly what I thought of her comment and while I know the importance of educating the public, I think it needs to be done in a positive, non-confrontational manner and I wasn’t sure I could keep that composure should I speak with this person face to face in that given moment. My children were watching and learning. I’m not sure if she had any children with her or not, but if she did, they were, too. And that’s the part that saddens me. But still, my children learned that mom cares enough to get on their level, to have fun while teaching a lesson, but to also respect other people and their space, and to focus on them (my kids) and the task at hand.
My hope is that the other customer meant that in a “Hey, that’s a fun way to do it!” kind of way and that it just wasn’t received well. However, I saw my checkout person give the other customer a glance that told me I wasn’t the only one who thought it a bit less than supportive. And bless her heart, she then looked at me and smiled, turned to my kids and asked, “How are you guys today?”
So yes, please stop. You have no idea what the child and the parents and the siblings are going through or what they would go through if they did everything the way you think they should. Even if you’ve seen it 100 times and you think you know, until you’ve been there, you just can’t even begin to imagine. Please, please stop. Stop the judgment; stop the stares, the glares, the rolling eyeballs; stop the comments, even if you think it’s funny or supportive in a funny kind of way. It’s not. So please, please just stop.