Parenting opens you up to a lot of opinions. A lot of stupid, unasked for, opinions from strangers. It’s par for the course, we all deal with it if we’ve chosen to reproduce (and if we’ve chosen not to, well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish some people need to fry.)
Now, add “special needs” to your parenting mix and you get to see the depths of people’s…just utter callousness and ignorance. I’m not even sure those are the right words to describe the junk thrown your way verbally.
I can remember the first big encounter I had in regards to a complete stranger telling me what to do with Maura. We had gone to a bookstore, which required crossing a big parking lot. Maura was three, could walk, but still hadn’t gotten any ankle-foot orthotics, so was slow in pace, easy to tire, and totally owned the idea of “baby steps”. So I had an umbrella stroller for her. We’d use it to quickly and safely get across parking lots, so I wouldn’t have to try to carry my long-legged girl all the time. And if she got tired, she had a place to sit.
I didn’t think it was a big deal.
An older woman, however, thought it was the most horrible thing she had seen in forever, and let me know it. “You should MAKE her WALK!” she announced to me.
I blinked at her, then just smiled and tried to walk away. Because I’m a nice person who doesn’t yell at old overly-opinionated ladies.
She didn’t get the hint. “You need to get rid of that stroller and MAKE her walk! She’s too old to be using that. All my kids were walking on their own by her age because I got rid of my stroller and MADE them walk.”
Amazingly, I didn’t tell the woman where she could stick the stroller. Instead, I cheerfully explained my daughter had a medical condition (low muscle tone) and we’d use the stroller as long as she needed it, thankyouverymuch.
But yeah. Dumb comments from people who don’t know what we go through. It’s par for the course.
And yet, just when you think you hear it all, some stranger has to go and prove you wrong.
Exhibit A – Internet Person Leaving Comments
Ah, the Internet Person, they’re a lovely breed. They know everything, and are amazingly witty…in their heads. Sadly, they use their fingers to type out the words in their heads, and direct their nonsense towards unsuspecting people all over the Interwebz. Last week, I was the intended victim who needed things explained to me, as left in comment form on my blog regarding Maura’s cognitive abilities –
“There is no such thing as mental retardation. It’s all in your head. There’s nothing wrong with your daughter she is the same as everyone else. I know you know this, but it’s absolutely 100% true. THEY CAN TAKE CARE OF THEMSELVES, just have to get them to believe it.”
I know I shouldn’t share the ignorance, in case it might be catching, but this one was Internet Gold, that once in a blue moon comment that is so bizarre that you can’t help but laugh at it. I mean, the idea that Maura’s been faking it this whole time? Wow.
Of course, I shared this with friends on Facebook. And my friends, they do not disappoint, because the comments that followed went like this –
Me – I just can’t believe my kid’s been playing me like this since, you know, infancy
Pretty Friend – we’ve all been in on it, laughing our collective asses off. even PM’ing her with ideas about how to keep up the charade. it’s been fun and now i’m heart broken that the gig is up.
College Pal – Wait so we don’t tell Phoebe, yet?
One of my many Jennifer Friends – Never! We stick with the ruse until the last gun is fired!
I heart my friends.
But seriously, this is the type of crap that’s dealt to us. That we overplay our child’s issues. That they’re fine, we’re just making too big of a deal about it. Or we get the other extremists who are telling us that if we’re not doing all the therapies from inside a hyperbolic chamber that we’re failing our child, our Warrior Mom card is ripped up, we can’t be part of the club. If we say nothing but positive things, we’re being unrealistic. If we complain, we’re not appreciating the gift that is our child’s special needs.
This is why we joke about drinking a lot. I joke about drinking more than I actually drink. Because by 9 pm, I’m too damned tired to lift that wine glass to my face.
The jokes about coffee? Aren’t jokes. Those are reality. It’s what we live for. It’s how we sit here at our computers and read how we need to tell our kids to cut the ruse and be normal and are able to just laugh about it. Because coffee makes things better. And friends who have the same sense of humor as you.
So if you’re the random Internet Person full of wisdom who wants to educated me on my daughter’s abilities having never met either of us? I salute you with this cup of coffee, and a finger. Because not today Satan. Not today, or any other day.