What You See vs. The Reality

11 Apr

What You See – 

A lovely mom and her adorable tall girl enter a Starbucks.  They get into the longer than usual line.  Girl goes through cold case picking out different drinks – a water bottle, a sparkling water bottle, a juice drink, a different juice drink – all while asking for a cookie.  Finally, it is their turn to order.  Mom pays for everything, girl gets cookie and juice, mom gets coffee and muffin.  They go to sit down, girl starts getting unhappily loud, yelling “No” and sitting on the floor by the coffee bar in protest.  She lets out bursts of screams as her mother takes her over to their table.  Mom exchanges words with girl, who settles down and responds.  Girl and mom then get back into line, and the girl gets a hot chocolate.

What did you see?

Did you just see a spoiled child getting her way?

Kind of.

Did you see a mom totally caving in and giving the child whatever she wanted just to get her to be quiet?

Not really.


The Reality – 

The reality was that the child went into that Starbucks with one thing in mind – cocoa.  Which she verbalized several times along the way.  The problem started when the pair were caught in a line, with all those lovely options to distract the girl on her quest for cocoa.  The mom – who should have known better – thought that maybe this time, she could get away with the drink swap.  She tried to rationalize with the child with the mental capacity of a spacey 3 year old.

Mom then decided to use the moment to get the girl to verbalize what she really wanted.  Which was cocoa.  And the girl got it – after several promptings of “Now say – Can I have cocoa please?”  Mom got a “Can I ha…cocoa.” and considered it close enough, high fived the girl for good word usage and rewarded her with the thing she wanted – a cup of cocoa.  Because talking in sentences is hard work for this girl.

Not to mention – the girl has no concept of the phrase “Suck it up kid.”  nor of “Deal with it.”  And mom really should have known better to let the girl stray from her original quest for the cocoa.  And it turns out the girl was in a weird mood because she had to poop but was trying to avoid it (hey, not pooping makes everyone cranky!)

So next time your out, and you see a mom and child in a weird ballet of wills, don’t instantly assume things.  There’s probably much more going on behind the scenes.


21 Responses to “What You See vs. The Reality”

  1. Sharon Hoover Weidemann April 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Preach it sista!

  2. Jessica April 11, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    so no cocoa for unhappy girl who went for juice?
    What happened to your heading btw? And how’s the writing going?

    • phoebz4 April 11, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

      Oh she got it! With lots of whipped cream 🙂

      My header refuses to fit properly in this new blog format. I’m still trying to figure things out.

  3. saracvt April 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm #

    Thank yew. *bows* There’s a very popular post going around the Internet now (even though it’s two years old, people are STILL responding to it) entitled, “Congratulations. You Just Broke Your Child.” The author observed a three-minute father-son interaction in a Costco and seemed to feel that because the father denied the kid’s request for ice-cream, whereupon the child stood submissively back against the wall, he was now “broken”, and it was child abuse. I hate observers who assume. So do the police.

    • bvanderlinden April 11, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

      Sarahcvt : I think I remember in that post that the father was actually physically near abusive and certainly verbally abusive to that little boy multiple times. I would say this is a totally different situation.

  4. Niki April 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm #

    You know I often read your blogs and secretly look around to see if this is some sort of hidden camera joke. Because I can’t tell you how many times you manage to write something that is or has recently happened to me! My story involves an 11 year old boy (who does have 3 siblings!), and in this episode of your blog our drink of choice is chocolate milk, and I am asking myself why I still try, after 11 years, to get wild and crazy and get something other than the chocolate milk?? And then I find myself thinking that I do it subconciously on purpose, just to get the talking out of him, even if it is prompted and often times in an angry voice. =)
    Anyway, I am very much enjoying reading my life through your words! Keep up the great stories and the great parenting!
    ~A huge fan in Wisconsin!

    • phoebz4 April 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      LOL! Thanks!

  5. charlie April 11, 2012 at 2:52 pm #

    Are you the mother? And what does the child being ‘tall’ have to do with anything. Just wondering.

    • phoebz4 April 11, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

      Yes, I’m the mother. and “tall” matters because people assume she’s older than she is (which is 8 1/2 years – she’s about the size of a 10-11 year old girl). People see a tall girl and assume she should know how to behave. They definitely don’t expect her to scream over hot chocolate, or the lack thereof. My daughter appears, at first glance, to be a perfectly normal child. She has what’s termed “invisible disabilities” because they are neurological.

      Basically, sometimes, when she’s having a meltdown in public, we get a lot of strange looks. Luckily, I am VERY good at tuning out the world at large and focusing just on her 🙂

      • Jessica April 11, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

        Invisible disability is a pain in the rear. I came into a neurological disorder a while back and its made things, well, difficult. My social circle crashed down as did most of everything. Friends who couldn’t really understand why I could keep a conversation going for ten minutes only to have the read thread of the conversation just evaporate. All the irritation that came with it, certainly made more than one friend stop calling. New friends have no problem with this, but then I’ve learned to cope better by some standard advice (eat, sleep, don’t stress out). I have freaked out a few times myself when I became so confused in public that I barely knew my name.

        I Hope you get the header stuff sorted out 🙂

  6. Angie April 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm #

    Thank you for your blogs….My 11 yr old son has Autism and several times your blog has made me think you were writing about him, lol. It helps to know there is someone else out there dealing with the same type of things. Todays especially helped!

    ~supermom to Tj, Lizzie, Lyssa and our Autistic superhero Christian

  7. Renee Anne April 11, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    I know the feeling……..except mine is a willful toddler who hasn’t yet reached his terrible twos and has a metabolic disorder that means we have to watch pretty much everything that goes into his mouth. ::sigh::

  8. michelle April 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

    OOOOOO, I totally get the TALL thing. ALL of my kids are tall. Even my daughter with Down Syndrome is tall for someone with Down Syndrome. 🙂 My son is 14 years old and over 6’1″ tall. As he was growing up I often wished I had a T-shirt that said, He’s only ( insert age here).

    Isn’t it funny how, all of a sudden, our mostly non-verbal children can piece a sentence together when it is something they desperately want? 🙂 It’s nowhere near a smooth flowing sentence, but it’s there. 😉


  9. Amy Silverstein April 11, 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Thank you. So many time I have had to deal with rude stares AND comments because my 10 yo daughter who happens to be autistic is set off by something ( it could be we were sat at a table and not a booth like we usually do). I am not afraid to respond and make the person feel teeny tiny for assuming, but the general rule should be NOT to judge!

  10. Karen April 11, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    I have a 17 yr. old client that I work with who is actually my buddy. Occasionally I take him out to eat adn since he’s in a wheelchair, I have to move chairs around to fit him under the table. He needs to be fed and its not always pretty and his humming and occasional outbursts of squeeling will bring about the looks and sometimes the stares. I can handle the looks – that’s normal – but when they continue to stare, then I get very protective. Usually I will just catch their eye and they will look away. But my buddy is certainly enjoying his lunch and to hell with everyone else.

  11. Jackie April 11, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    I too have a beautiful daughter with a invisible disability….she is 16 now…..our little rockstars sound soo much alike! I have a friend whose daughter has down syndrome and she used to say I don’t like people knowing my business…they take one look at my dAughter and they think they know what my life is like…..but I would try to tell her now hRd it was to have a “typical” looking child and have her act up and the stares you get because people would assume she was just being a brat……and that I was a bad mom….u do get used to the stares, but at times u still get upset by peoples rudeness! Some days are easier than others…..and some days you want to throw your hands up and say “I give up!” I love your blog and look forward to reading what you have to say! Thanks so much!

  12. Galit Breen April 11, 2012 at 9:08 pm #

    This post is important, humbling.

    (Thank you.)

  13. bvanderlinden April 11, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    This was a great post and thank you for reminding us that what we see is not the whole story. It is so easy to judge quickly and walk away and people do it all the time. When we can read the stories it makes us think more and pause before we pass judgement. Thank you for sharing this story.

  14. ntouch2cher April 11, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    Good on you!! My youngest was a highly sensitive child and no one “got it” when she would try with all her might to hide her frustrations… so she would sulk, cry silently and I could feel how miserable she was. I never thought I was giving in but some of “those people” watching sure did not help make me feel like I was doing something wrong. How dare anybody tell a parent they are spoiling their child! A mom knows her child and knows how to listen with her heart, soul, ears and eyes. Glad she was able to verbalize what she wanted…good on both of you:)

  15. Kirsteen April 12, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    so appreciate everything you say! I have seen myself in similar situations so many times. It looks like I’m caving but it’s all part of of the dance like you said.
    My highly sensitive son went to my in-laws to sleep over the other night. We have long given up on the battle over food. he “tries” a new food at home every night. But not when we are out. too many other variables. Well, my sister in law decided she could do what I havent been able to do & stuffed pasta in his mouth. There goes that relationship for him. Trust an adult? no thanks. Among other things. anyway, will be talking to her today. So I really appreciate your candor. Your last commenter has it spot on, ‘a mom knows her child’
    thank you both.

  16. Lori Hurley April 13, 2012 at 10:00 am #

    I just re-posted this on my facebook page. I was the one making judgments about other parents, thinking I knew better with my fancy Counseling Psych Masters. 🙄 When my own special needs child came along, I was embarrassed and humbled at the way I used to be. I’ve gone through this exact same scenario, right down to the “tall” since my just-turned-5 year old regularly passes for 7 or 8. Thank you for putting this out there and helping others get a new perspective.

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