To the woman who stopped near my tantrumming child at the Sacramento Zoo to point and him and tell her son “that’s what a bad boy looks like,” you have NO FREAKING CLUE WHAT WAS GOING ON!
If you want to see children with proper behavior, you can go and buy yourself a reservation on an exclusive island where children don’t have bad days. You have that right. My son also has rights. He has the right to exist in public spaces, just like you do. He has the right to enjoy the zoo, just like your child does. And he has the right to have a bad day anywhere he needs to, to practice his coping skills, so that he will eventually be able to get through a trip to a public place without having a total meltdown. We will continue to practice every day until we figure it out. And we will not always have a good day. Capisce!?!?
To the person who honked their horn at us, when Nicholas ran into the middle of the busy street and then threw himself on the floor, mid-traffic, your honking was NOT HELPFUL. Did you think it wasn’t obvious to me that it was a bad situation? Did you really think that honking was going to help him get up? Well, IT DIDN’T!!!
To the store workers who were conversing on their radios, going on with “There is a kid who has been laying in the aisle for 20 minutes, if that were my kid, I would’ve beat the crap out of him already,” I don’t even have words for you. I don’t know how to help you understand. I don’t even have the time to try to explain it to you. Perhaps someday the world will personally introduce you to autism, and you will change your perspective. Perhaps based on your logic, you can ask someone to beat you until you understand exactly why beating a special needs child is both ineffective and illegal. Then you can just find me and let me know if that helped you understand it any better.
To the person who once yelled out the window, “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?” as I was on my knees on the sidewalk, restraining Nicholas, holding him from hurting me or himself during his complete meltdown, YOU DIDN’T KNOW ANYTHING about what was happening at that moment. It was THE BEST I could do.
To the man who tried to approach my child in the parking lot, when he was banging his head on the pavement, to tell him “Hey, stop that!” I yelled at you because you had no right to approach my child. His behavior escalated because you came up and spoke to him. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? You have NO RIGHT to scold my child!
And to the young girl who was working at the Starbucks counter at Target in South San Jose, working 10 feet away from us, as I wrestled Nicholas on the floor while he slapped and kicked me for a very long 60 minutes, I’m really sorry I cried. I apologized as he was calming down, with “I’m sorry for the scene,” and you responded with “No, don’t apologize. I think you handled that situation really well. You stayed so calm the entire time.” and I broke into tears as I sat there on the tile floor, still holding his arms and legs down.
I’m very sorry for the awkwardness of that moment when you probably had to wonder why this strange woman was crying in front of you. I’m normally very good at reserving my crying moments for long car rides, after my son falls asleep in his car seat, or while I’m alone in my bed at night. I don’t normally cry in front of people, much less strangers. I shouldn’t have cried, but it was a really rough day.
Before we spoke, I had assumed you were probably one of “THEM.” I assumed that you were one of those judgmental people with no kids, and no understanding of autism, who was probably judging me for being a terrible parent, and judging my son for being a bad child. But you weren’t that person I thought you were. You were nice. You understood. And you even thought I was doing a good job.
I don’t normally get compliments from strangers who watch me in these sorts of situations. I only seem to get compliments from people who have never seen a bad day, and it’s usually followed with an ignorantly hopeful statement, such as “I’m sure he will grow out of it.” You were a real person, who saw me having a bad day, and you actually understood what was going on.
I judged you before I knew you, just like all of those people who I accused of judging me. I was wrong. And I’m sorry. Please keep being a great employee. Please continue being a real and down-to-earth person. For whatever it’s worth, I really appreciated your words. People like you are few and far between. My tears were temporary, but your words will stay with me, running through my mind, giving me something to keep me going on the rough days. Thank you for reminding me that there are understanding people out there.
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