Monday, November 23, 2009

What Upsets Me

My husband will tell you that I tell way too much of our personal business am a person who shares her thoughts way too much freely. It's true. I love to blog. I love to share what's going on in our lives and I love hearing about others who find themselves feeling much the same way even if our circumstances are different.

BUT some topics are just difficult to put into words. I mull over how I want to say things and I think about how my words will be interpreted. I even cringe at the thought of some of the advice I might receive.

Deep goes....

Everybody has rough days sometimes. You know those days when your kiddo is just "off", just not Mr. or Ms. Sunshine that everybody just adores. Days like those don't tend to happen when you can hibernate from the world either. In fact, what turns into a "rough day" may have started out just fine. There you are, surrounded by a hundred or more strangers on an airplane and "it" happens. Or, maybe you are out just doing a little grocery shopping when "it" happens. Or even just hanging out in your yard. "It" can happen anytime anywhere and there can be a dozen reasons or no reason at all. "It" is known by some folks as a tantrum. "It" is characterized by loud screaming from a child. Sometimes there is also thrashing about. The biggest definer of "it" is "it"s ability to attract so much attention to you and your child.

There's tons of advice out there on how to deal with "it". I am no expert handler of "it" and that's not what upsets me anyway. What upsets me is not so much "it" but how "it" causes my child to be percieved.

Jack is a late talker. He talks but he is not fully conversational yet and his words are difficult to understand. He has very obvious hydrocephalus. Even if you don't understand the term hydrocephalus, one look at him and you know that he has a very large head. These two things combined can lead to assumptions on the part of unwise people.

Those assumptions upset me. Jack wasn't feeling well last week only I did not know it yet. We needed to run by the grocery store after I picked him up from school. Jack loves to go to the grocery store. He likes to drive the "rocketship" grocery cart, he likes to get the free cookie from the bakery, and when we are done with our shopping, he likes to spend a few minutes running around on the pavement in front of the grocery store and the small little strip of stores attached to it. He does not like having to stop his running around to get in the car.

I prepared him as well as I could. I told him we were going to the store. I reviewed what we needed to do while we were there. I reminded him that he had a limited amount of run around time. I had him repeat me so that I could be sure he heard me. While we were in the store, I reminded him again. When we exited the store, I gave him another reminder. I did the 5 minute countdown.

Still when it was time to go, "it" happened. He started crying and yelling, "Play outside! Play outside!" and "Shopping!" and "Drive cart!" and some other phrases I don't remember now. I had to take a few minutes standing there with him screaming in front of the store before I could get him over to our car. When we reached our car, he continued to scream. He flailed his arms and would not get in the car. He is much too big and much too strong for me to manhandle into the car.

I did the only thing I could do. I stood there with him and waited. I waited for my oppurtunity to speak. I couldn't have out-yelled him. I reminded him that we were a team and I could see that he was having a lot of trouble but it was okay because I was there to help him. I felt good about the approach and it seemed to work because even as he screamed, he would reach for me to hold him. I prayed under my breath as I did my best to remain calm. Slowly very very very slowly he calmed down. He was still upset but he willingly got into his car seat.

In the meantime, I could not help but overhear the loud passersby and their comments that must have been meant for me to hear because how else could they have talked louder than Jack screaming in my ear? I heard a couple of "Oh, bless him he can't help it" kinds of comments, at least one "needs a good spanking" kind of comment, and one very much meant for me to hear because it was said over and over again while they were walking by and they were definitely out-shouting Jack "That is just sad. That kid. That is just sad."

Yes, it's true. At the time of the tantrum, I don't believe Jack was in control of himself and I agree that it was a very sad moment. Needs a good spanking? Just don't ask.

I don't believe that this was what the commenters meant. It makes me sad that Jack's behavior can make someone believe he is less capable than the brilliant little fellow he is. It upsets me that anyone would judge my child's intellect by his obviously upset behavior. Who hasn't seen a four year old have a meltdown in public? Do all four year old's who do such a thing get "Oh, bless him he can't help it."? And what about "that's just sad". Isn't it sad when any kid cries? Is there something particular about his cry that disturbs you?

So, in case you're wondering...that's what upsets me.

Don't forget to check out the latest installment of Life is Therapy.


Nowheymama said...

Sadly, I think ALL parents receive totally inappropriate comments in public from time to time. That's supposed to comfort you, but it' really just depressing, isn't it?

Melissa aka Equidae said...

ITs a killer the deflates you, makes you sad and angry and so much more. At one point I hated going into a restaurant in case he cried and couldnt stop him cos when it had happened people were looking at me as if I was a monster or something...

Marie said...

Nowheymama-I think you are totally right. I have heard people do the same thing to other parents as well. I think this is an area where I am a bit overly sensitive. I don't like for people to underestimate Jack. And it really bothers me when people use typical (although disturbing) 4 year old behavior as their basis for thinking less of him. Does that make sense?
Melissa-I hear ya! We still don't go out to each much because Jack is not much of a sitter and there's too much interesting stuff to check out to entice him to sit. I have found that I am at my best when I let go of anyone else's expectations and let us be who we are and do our thing. That said, restaurant meals just aren't relaxing for us. I'd rather eat at home where he sits for meals and I can eat!!!

mommytoalot said... you've read on my blog..this happens to us a LOT.
I also think our special needs chidlren get it MUCH MORE than typical children. You'd never know , unless you live it.
..people..some are trying to be helpful..others judgemental...others just plain intollerant. I agree..all children have tantrums..and hopefully outgrown them..however..some of our very special children do not.
As for post should be done.
Great post marie

Rachel said...

I feel for you and totally agree. It's so odd that people feel the freedom to be MUCH more blunt and downright rude to people they don't know than they would ever be to people they knew. I hate "stranger assumptions" or "stranger judgements", and I can totally imagine that it is much worse when they combine assumptions about Jack's appearance in with their assumptions about his behavior. It's not like you can stop them and take ten minutes to explain what is really going on.

I feel your pain!

sheila said...

Wow. I remember when my daughter was 3 and didn't want to leave the mall. She screamed and threw herself on the floor and I tried to hoist her up by her arm.


Oh, glorious days. lol.

I think people are ignorant and either 1/) don't have kids...or 2) Don't REMEMBER what it's like.

And for someone to say 'he can't help it'? Well. There's not too much I can say about ignorant people. Sorry.

carla said...

ONLY offers of help for when we struggle in the "moment" please. when my grace (in the words of a candy giver on halloween) "grabbed" candy out of her hand (grace was grappling with the folks who put the bowl out for the child to choose and the folks who place the candy into the bag for them). we explaind her autism and that she is doing the best she can "THERE IS NO WAY FOR ME TO HAVE KNOWN THAT!!" you're right, i will hang a sign around her neck for you next time. Good bye."

Marie said...

Carla, I'm sorry you had that experience on Halloween. I hope that Grace was unfazed by it. I think there are many children that would get confused by what you're supposed to do.