So my friend M. was taking her child to the movies, and invited the girls and I to tag along. Which was great, Maura wanted to see a movie (she’s been dragging our old popcorn buckets around asking “Movie? Movie?”).
Now, Maura is a bit touch and go at movies. She LOVES them, but has this tendency of flipping out when they’re over. Like when we saw “Tangled” – she loved it instantly, and when the credits started to roll, she let out a blood-curdling shriek that was followed by loud sobbing.
She enjoyed the movie today (“The Croods” – which was way better than I expected!). Maura was all good at the end of the movie, to my surprise. I even got her out of the theatre without any hassle.
What I didn’t know was that it was a bit of a delayed reaction.
Some of us had to find the bathroom – which is normal. But post-movie emotional let down hit Maura. We get to the bathroom and she starts screeching. I tried to get her to wait outside with Mim after she flipped out in the bathroom – but then she followed me into the bathroom. Fine, we’ll go in….nope, there she went, screaming out the door. Okay, stay outside with Miriam…and back into the bathroom she went. Various levels of loudness were incorporated into this.
Finally I got to use the toilet, and Maura followed me in there. And then decided she wanted out. Which led to more screaming on her part as I wouldn’t let her open the stall door when I wasn’t ready for the door to be opened. She settled back down, I finished what I was doing, we were able to leave the confines of the tiny toilet stall and go wash our hands.
Where Maura started back up on her screaming fit. Which included her flipping out and flinging water into my face (she wasn’t actually aiming for me, I just happened to be in the path.)
Out of the corner of my eye, I see these two teenaged girls, standing there, staring at us. Maura is flipping out, I’m trying to get her under control. I decided to go the firm route, where I get all stern and direct, because she’s about to go over the edge.
And these two teen girls are still gaping at us.
So Maura’s flipping out, I’m trying to wash my hands, she’s trying to wash her hands, she’s about to soak her coat sleeves, I’m trying to figure out how to rescue said sleeves with my own wet hands, she starts flipping out more and goes to run off, and I grab a hold of her – which makes her go into full-fledge shriek.
Now Maura is a kid who needs lots of input. Words don’t always cut it, and when she’s in shrieking fit mode, it’s almost like she has tunnel vision and she can’t see past the fit.
Meanwhile, these two teen girls are still starting at us. Unblinking almost.
Maura starts to shriek, and I do what I normally do – put a hand over her mouth and do some sort of “No, you can’t scream like this.” in a loud firm voice so she hears me.
As I do this, I glance up and these girls are still full-fledge STARING.
I hate it when people stare. And usually, I can ignore people. Or if I look at them, they back off and look away.
They kept staring.
And so, as I stood there with shrieking Maura in the middle of a public bathroom, my hand over her mouth, I looked at these girls STARING at us and my mouth opened.
I think I said “Do you need something?” I’m certain I gave them a stink eye. Because I made full eye contact with them.
They cowered there for a moment then got the hell out of the bathroom and away from the crazy lady and her screeching daughter.
Okay, it wasn’t one of my best parenting moments in public. But it wasn’t one of my worst either. What it was was one of those moments where I wished Maura was more noticeably disabled.
Right now, people’s first impression of Maura is “Oh, normal girl.” So any odd behaviors – like screaming fit in public – makes people stop and stare. Adults get it more quickly. Younger kids tend to stare for a while trying to figure Maura out. I’ll be honest – I loathe staring. It irritates the ever-loving snot out of me. I try to ignore it. I really really do. 99% of the time, I am able to.
Today? Was that 1% of time.
And those teen girls staring got hit with it.
I should probably feel more badly about it. I am a wee bit ashamed for yelling at the girls (not that I actually yelled persay…)
But only a wee bit.
We managed to get out of the bathroom without anyone else being scathed or scarred, and got Maura out of the movie theatre. She immediately calmed down and ten minutes later was happily eating ice cream with the other girls, all unhappiness forgotten.
I told my friend that it’s times like these that make me almost wish Maura had some sort of distinguishing disabled look. Like if she had Down Syndrome, people are very familiar with it, people know that children with DS have delays, and may act out of the norm. They’d see the distinguishing features and go “Oh…I get it…” and move on.
But Maura looks like just about any other child. So we get the confused, curious “Why in the world is she doing THAT?” stare. And once a year, I will open my big mouth and say something to said staring person.
And no, I probably won’t feel that badly about it either.