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We’re not performance artists, please stop staring

31 Jul

This is a shout-out to all you mothers who were staring at me and my screaming daughter the other day at Target.

Yes you, blonde woman who stared at us as you pushed your cart with your own precious wonder who was behaving calmly to your car. Where you proceeded to give several frowny looks to us while you buckled your child in, unloaded your cart, closed the back hatch of your SUV…I’m so glad you found us so very curious that you had to glance our way not once, not twice,  not even three times, but at least four!

And you, dark haired mom herding your two kids to your vehicle. Thanks for sparing a couple glances our way, with that unmistakable look of “WTH?” that was sent our way.

What neither of you, or the other women who paused to stare at our spectacle, might have caught onto was that my screaming child has special needs. She had gone down the rabbit hole of uncontrollable emotions, and we had left the store because she wasn’t listening to me, got mad at me, and slapped me in my torso area.

I do hope that while you gaped at us, you noticed my almost saint-like patience. Admired it even. I’m sure at least one of you many rubberneckers thought “Wow, I am SO glad that’s not MY child.”

Or maybe you saw me giggle when my angry child shooed me away. Seriously. She shooed me. “Go away!” she said as she made the shooing motion with her hands as she sat on the bench outside the store I put her on in hopes she’d calm down enough that we could go back inside.

“I can’t sweetie. I have to stay here.” Stay here and count the amount of heads swinging our way as you scream blue murder, like the trio of ladies walking by, stealing glances. Thanks for noticing us.

Usually, when my daughter has a melt-down, I put on my blinders and focus solely on her. The rest of the world drops off my radar and I figure out how best to help my child through this situation. But that moment in Target, I started noticing how many people were watching us. The people in the aisle nearby, stopping to look at who was screaming and why. The woman walking towards us, who look startled by the scene we were creating. The mothers, pushing their own children along, giving me the side eye, making sure I was doing no harm.

And I noticed one major thing, amongst all those faces who I deliberately started making eye contact with…

Not one of you came near us.

Not one of you even gave me that smile of mom solidarity that we sometimes give another mom dealing with a screaming child. Probably because my child is twelve and not visibly disabled, so is an anomaly to you.

Most definitely did no one stop to offer to help or give an encouraging word. Then again, none of you called the cops on me, so there’s a bonus, because so many of you were checking to make sure I wasn’t the cause of my daughter’s screams that I started to anticipate at least store security coming to check things out.

It was eye-opening for me. I got to see what goes around me while I waited for my daughter to calm down enough outside the store to let me coax her to our own car safely. Which finally happened after several minutes. Though you all kept your collective eyes on me as we made that trek and as I buckled her in. I got the feeling a couple of you were waiting to see if I’d lose it once we were at the safety of our car. Sorry to have disappointed you with my remaining-calm demeanor.

I’ll admit, I did have some anger in me.  Not at my daughter – my daughter’s cognitive disabilities combined with puberty means that sometimes we have a meltdown such as this. She can’t help it.

No, I was feeling peeved at you lot who stared at us like we farted in church. I get it, we’re an oddity. But after the first glance, you can stop. Or you know what?  Give an encouraging look, a smile of “Aren’t kids awful?” comradery. Note my calm attitude and carry on with your life. If you are feeling very daring, come over and ask if you could help out in any way. I really didn’t need help, but another parent in that situation might be grateful if you pushed their cart to their car so they could steer their upset tween safely through the parking lot.

But for God’s sake, don’t stare at us like we’re a train wreck getting ready to unfold. It’s just rude. And if your mama didn’t teach you that, this mama will. It’s rude and only makes a parent in that situation feel more frustrated and more alone.

Meanwhile, next time my tall special need tween has a tantrum in Target, I’m going to keep my blinders on – the view is better.

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Life lessons at Chipotle

14 Jul

So lately, Maura and I have been grabbing lunch at  Chipotle after summer school lets out – by that point of the day, we’re both really hungry.

It’s funny to think of how much Maura loves Chipotle.  We get burrito bowls.  She’ll eat the whole thing.  She’s a dainty princess like that.  But really, she’s in a body of a 12 year old about to grow some more girl.  Wanting to eat everything? That’s normal.

Now, since everyone else in the area also loves Chipotle for lunch, we encounter a huge line.  I spend our time in line giggling with her, reminding her not to bump into people, explaining “personal space”, reminding her to not cut ahead when the opportunity arises.  Okay, that sounds like she’s a sugared up monkey in line – she’s not.  She’s actually quite calm, and the reminders are just that – reminders.  One day, I started thinking about how much life skills are involved in waiting in line.  Patience, respect for others, turn taking – and she does so well every time.

I do think her favorite part is selecting what she wants.  Which is the same thing every time.  She does not want chicken.  She does want lettuce.  She definitely wants the mild salsa. We bypass the guac for her (hey, it costs extra!) And the staff is there being wonderfully patient with her, pointing to different options, checking with her what she wants before they glance at me for clarification.  They don’t rush us along even though there’s twenty people behind us in line.

I could order it all for her, but I won’t.  I let her have this chance to make choices.  In a way, Chipotle has become a safe, friendly environment in which to learn how to make choices and wait in line and other basic but very necessary life skills.  When she gets over-exuberant and yells “HI!” at all the staff with a big smile, they return the smile and the “hi!”.

There was one point, the second time we were doing this, as Maura got confused between lettuce and guac that I had a moment of “Oh God, we’re holding up the line!” – but that thought immediately turned to “Chill.  It’s not that big of a deal, we’re not taking up that much of their time, and patience is something everyone can learn.”  Because really, Maura learning this skill set benefits everyone.  And I’ve seen people be much bigger line hold ups there as well. It’s a lesson set for Maura, but it’s also a teaching moment for me – that it’s okay to let Maura do things at her pace in public.  To chill out about what others might be thinking.  To not be so hypersensitive myself.

Life lessons can happen anywhere, sometimes with a side of guac (which costs extra but is totally worth it!)

this is some serious business people!

this is some serious business people!

We’re already failing at summer vacation

22 Jun

It’s impressive really, how quickly our summer is going down the proverbial toilet.  Maura’s been officially out of school for an hour and we’ve spent most of it in a screaming battle of wills over screen time.

I’m thinking this summer, we may go Amish.  But then I won’t be able to get onto my computer.  And the teens would howl, which will make the dogs howl….

I may need a new plan.

Maura graduated from fifth grade on Friday.  Technically, she didn’t have to go to the “all of two hours” last day today.  But she did.  Just so I could savor those last quiet moments of peace.  Her teacher told me how another teacher asked if any of her students would show up – Maura’s teacher stated “Oh, EVERY ONE will be there.”  I said “Dang skippy!” We both laughed.  We both get it.

Also, after this past weekend, I needed that two hours of final serenity.  See, Saturday, I woke up and ran to the store.  I got milk and doughnuts and coffee.  I came home all Good Mom, and went to present Maura with a pink frosted doughnut.  She was thrilled to see said pink frosted doughnut.  I stared in horror at the puddle of chopped hair that surrounded her, and the scissors tossed casually to the side. I spent the rest of the day finding little locks of hair here and there as they fell off her head.

The good news is, the girl has such obnoxiously thick hair, you can barely tell.  The front of her hair is uneven though.

barely noticeable, really...

barely noticeable, really…

Then Sunday, I left the girls watching some bad Wizard of Oz reboot while I tried to read a book.  Only to hear the big sister yell “MOM!  MAURA’S BLEEDING!”

“From where?” I yelled as I ran to meet them.

“Her fingers!”

Somehow, Maura found a piece of broken glass.  I don’t know where.  I don’t know how.  She just found it, and held it, and sliced her fingers a little.  Her sister was more upset than she was by it all.  I washed off the hand, bandaged the finger, then realized that on her way up from the family room, Maura bled on the carpet, walls, hand rail…

It’s amazing how kids with innocent wounds can make a place look like a crime scene.

So yeah, this morning, I shoved that girl on the bus for that whole last two hours, so I could brace myself for summer.  Because we’re already failing.  And we have so much more to go.

I’ll be in the corner, rocking, if you need me.

 

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