Sunday, April 17, 2016

Keep Your Head Up

      Getting the kiddos off the bus on Friday, the driver asked me if we were going anywhere on vacation the following week. I kind of laughed and shrugged her off, telling her we'd probably stay local.  Going out for us is kind of like what Forrest Gump says about life. It's "a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

    Most of our outings are okay. We tell the kids where we're going and what we are doing and repeat several times to them to be on their best behavior and listen to mom and dad.   I would say that about 8 out of 10 trips are what one could consider a success. A success consists of no meltdowns, relatively quiet voices and no bolting or running through parking lots. A peaceful ride home is the icing on the cake of a great day.  But of course, there's bound to be some difficulties sprinkled in there. If something doesn't go according to plan, like not having dessert at the restaurant, or not being allowed to run into the move theater. Or heaven forbid there's a hand drier or automatic flush in the bathroom.  This is when things start to spiral out of control. This is when we slam on the brakes and scream in the middle of The Olive Garden on the way to the bathroom, and when we throw ourselves on the floor of the mall and start wailing because running in the movies is not allowed. 

    This is also when people start to stare.

    It doesn't bother me now, but I  used to get so mortified. I always felt like I was being judged. People would stare, glare and scowl at me. Some would even be so bold as to say something,  Though it was muttered, I could hear what they were saying loud and clear.

"Can't she control her kid?"

"I hate it when parents let their kids get away with this."

"What a spoiled brat."

    The last one always got me. My kiddos were not brats! How could they say that without ever having met them? Both Sweet Pea and Monkey are bright, beautiful, funny, amazing kids.These people see them at a very vulnerable moment and automatically label them as rotten, spoiled children. It wasn't fair! My frustration and mortification would always get the best of me, and I would get angry and bodily carry my kicking and wailing child out of the situation. After that the day would just continue to cascade into an abyss of misery with more shouting, screaming and continued melting down until the kid was tucked into bed and I was crying into a glass or two of wine. It got to the point where I didn't want to take them out anymore because I didn't want to be judged.

    It wasn't until after I got Monkey's diagnosis that I had my moment of clarity.  Why on earth should it matter what other people say? These outsiders didn't know what kind of challenge we had been given, raising two kids on the spectrum. Chances are, they didn't even know my kiddos  had autism. I realized then that I had lost my focus. Instead of spending all this time fretting about what the world will think of me, I should really be addressing the needs of my clearly distressed children. I had been too busy worrying about how I would look in the eyes of society. I was ashamed of myself.

     I decided that enough was enough and I had to start paying attention to what my kids are trying to tell me. They are telling me that this isn't about me, this is about them. At this point in time, whatever is going on is too much for them to take in and they need to leave. Getting perturbed because of what the world might think doesn't help.  I have to remember to maintain my calm, keep my head up, and ignore the muttered oaths, stares and judgmental head shakes because they don't matter. The most important thing to me in the world is the happiness and well being of my children, and I am going to do everything possible to see that maintained.  If the kiddos know I'm doing my best, and I know I'm doing my best, then to hell with what anyone else has to say about it! I got plenty of stares the day I had to carry Monkey screaming from the food court, but I didn't get angry and couldn't have cared less what anyone else thought. And you know what? Monkey and I were better off for it. He calmed down almost as soon as we were outside and when we met Daddy and Sweet Pea at the car, the rest of the day was perfect

    So the take away from today's lesson is this: Don't let what might happen stop you from taking your child out and being a part of society. If something does go wrong, keep your head up and do what you know in your heart is best. The stares and mutters of others might sting at first, but that hurt quickly fades once you see that grateful smile on your kiddo's face and you know that you saved the day.

Peace and Love.

  "Love the child in front of you. Encourage his strengths, celebrate his quirks, and improve his weaknesses, the way you would with any child. You may have to work harder on some of this, but that’s the goal.” – Claire Scovell LaZebnik

1 comment:

  1. Wonderfully said Audra! Anyone reading this will pause and think how many times they might have been that judge-mental person and think twice next time. Your strength and bravery are an inspiration!