I've mentioned before the girls have special needs. You wouldn't know it to look at them, except possibly thinking they are younger than they are. I don't even think about it most of the time but it's there lurking at the edge of our lives. One little thing can upset the applecart.
Like this morning when we got in the car to head out for our weekly Farmer's Market trip. The CD player wouldn't play and Calamity Jane couldn't understand why (neither could I for that matter, 6mo old Mazda 5.) By the time we got to the market, every one of her nerves was tingling and it took several negotiations to get her to leave the car.
Everything was going smoothly until something set her off while I was waiting to buy eggs. When I keeled down to help her and readjust her bags, a woman stopped to glare at us. My husband asked her what was wrong and she told him "You should take her out of here. Children should not be allowed to behave that way!"
I felt the tears begin to burn at the back of my eyes, the tears every parent of a special needs child has had. The tears that start off as embarrassment and then become angry tears. Anger at yourself for being embarrassed by your child and anger at the person who feels the need to judge you.
What I want to say to this woman and any one else who stares is: what would you have me do? Should we leave every place every time one of my children acts out? Because that pretty much means staying home all the time with them. And who would that benefit?
It certainly wouldn't benefit my daughter who has to learn to control her emotions and adjust to change. It doesn't benefit her twin who had been looking forward to the trip all week. Nor does it benefit me or my husband who have to eat. It definitely doesn't benefit the local farmers who we make an effort to support by shopping at the market.
Yes, a few shoppers wouldn't get bumped into by my kids, they wouldn't be bothered by their occasional outbursts, And yes you, the woman who told us off, your day not have been bothered by the sight of my child. Next time I will remember that your needs outweigh my own.
My husband told me not to let this incident get to me. Obviously I wasn't able to follow his advice. But as I stewed over it while grocery shopping I remembered last week's grocery shop.
We had pushed it too far, trying two big activities in one day and by the time my husband and I met at the checkout both girls were freaking out so I took them outside while my husband paid. As I pulled them, screaming, past staring shoppers a woman told me "I've so been there sister, hang in there!"
I never confronted the woman who was rude this morning but I did take time to thank that woman at the grocery store. And in addition to her I thank every parent, every random stranger who has stopped to help, sent me a sympathetic look, or just smiled at me instead of glaring. You don't know how much I, and every other parent in my situation, appreciates it.