Saturday, May 15, 2010

Mark Us With A Scarlet S

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.


  1. If you don't mind me asking, what kind of special needs? What makes her 'act out'? Is she autistic?

  2. I don't mind at all, Peggy. Desmonda Drama has a mild speech delay and physical delays resulting from hypotonia and womb induced torticollis.

    Calamity Jane, the one who the woman complained about, had a profound speech delay that we suspect was due to apraxia. Her speech progress has been amazing but apraxia causes a lot of processing problems which we are still working on. Most days are fine but sometimes something sets her off.

    Honestly though, I don't think she was acting that oddly for a 3 year old. Just swinging the (cloth bag) and shouting NO, NO, NO.

  3. I have heard alot of ppl talk about Asperger's (I dont now alot about it), a disorder that causes kids to respond real strongly to alot of outside stimulus, ppl and noises, and sometimes they throw fits and get real hard to handle too. I would investigate that. But no matter how your child acted it was nobody's GD business to say THING. If she spit on you and called you a bitch it's nobody's business. I have seen kids act a damn fool in public before and the parents could care less. At least you care about it.

  4. I floated the idea of Asperger's to her teachers (she goes to the special needs preschool in town) but they think her social and affectionate traits rule that out. It's possible there are some OCD tendencies but they think it probably relates back to the apraxia. Her brain just processes things very differently than the rest of the world.

  5. Hugs. I have been there too. My Evie has some special situations too. She is only 2 1/2 so it is hard to know what her exact situations are. She goes to our local MRDD school for her therapists. I try to remember to say to people when they say something about Evie acting out. But you are out in public acting like an asshole and no one is saying anything to you.

  6. This post really spoke to me because while my kids are awesome 99.9% of the time, they are young and sometimes have tantrums/freakouts- almost always in public. Last week at Trader Joe's Finn FREAKED OUT over nothing, was screaming/crying/flailing, and people were staring at me, making comments under their breath, and giving me nasty looks. Being 36 weeks pregnant apparently made them feel that I was somehow destroying the world by bringing yet another unruly child into it. They don't know that he almost never has tantrums. But were judging me all the same, as though these two minutes of his life are indicative of how he behaves all the time and my parenting on the whole. If it weren't for the fact that Finn repeats everything I say, I would have told them all to bite me as I paid for my groceries anyway (like I was going to attempt to do that another time- I had my stuff and was bringing it home with me!). People can suck sometimes.

  7. I don't think an incident like that is particular to the fact that your kids have special needs. All parents go through that sort of hellacious behavoir (although I understand it must be more often for you). Like you, I am so appreciative of the parents who just give you a special look or a supportive word. I know that since having kids myself, I have done a 180 in the way I react to other kids acting out. We've all been there and it sucks and rather than getting annoyed like I did when I was single now I just think, "Thank goodness it's not me this time!"

  8. I can't believe any person would stop and say something like that - it' appalling!

    Usually when we're out in public, sans our kid, and I see or hear another child having a meltdown, I just smile and think "thank god that's not me today". Because I know tomorrow it could be, and I sympathize completely. I get it, that's just part of parenting. But I would never tell another person to remove their child from my sight for the way they were behaving.

  9. Seems as if there are people that just enjoy bleeding their venom on to others. When someone starts my day like the incident you faced it burns at me all day. It gives you a little faith in humanity when someone takes the time to be kind. A few days ago I had my three year old with me at the grocery store and she was being a bit tough. I'm use to those moments but, a miserable older women behind me told me I needed to do something about my child. Then she had to say something directly to my daughter. My kid stopped for a second and told the lady to "Pluck Off". I reacted by laughing. The women marched off. I know I should not done that but, after that my kid was calm and collected.

  10. Heavens, I have to say that it typical three year old behavior! My niece used to freak out in her carseat if her shirt wasn't completely covering her back. They're all still learning to communicate -- my toddler oftens misbehaves if there's a shopping cart involved. I just ignore the glares and am thankful for the mamas who welcome me to the club.

    p.s. hope you find your i-touch!

  11. {{{{hugs}}}} I was always shy to offer verbal support even though I wanted to. After reading this, I will DO IT from now on.

  12. THis makes me so mad. My twins girls are "normal" for all intents and purposes, yet we've had moments like these and I really get angry when people make rude comments like that.

    And when it's the other way around and my kids are behaving but I see a mom struggling w / her brood, I always try to say something kind and reassuring like "been there, done that," because my kids are just as prone to freak outs and bad behavior as any ofther kids, special needs or not.....

  13. Lordy it sounds like you just described almost every outing I have with my 2. Which is why I often cannot take them out together anymore. When they were small I could scoop them up and head to the car but now at age 7 and 5 it would take Hulk-like strength to manage that.
    I too have had my share of strangers giving me their parenting advice when one or both of my boys are having a meltdown. I have learned to educate when I can and to say, "Their autistic, whats your excuse?" when they act ignorant or downright stupid.
    The fact is, autism and other special needs have always been in our communities, but in the past 20 years parents of these children have stood their ground, refused to have their children put into homes, and urged the schools and public to see our children for who they are...human beings with just as many rights as everyone else. That includes the right to go grocery shopping, visit the local Starbucks, and swim at the local pool. If someone can't handle that truth it is THEIR problem and their shortsightedness...not ours or our children.

    Keep your chin up Mama! You are doing a mighty work in your children's lives and I for one hope you know it today and always.