Sometimes I just get tired of feeling angry. I've learned to live with side long glaances, I don't even care if people look at me sometimes like I'm a bad parent if himself decides to lose it in public. In truth, public meltdowns happen with much less frequency than in the past, and my skin has thickened cosiderably within the last few years.
The way I look at it, I have the responsibility, as a parent of a child with a disability that affects key social skills, to help him gain those skills. And I can't do that if we never leave the house, so look out community, here we come. I also think I'm pretty reasonable, I try lots of different places, lots of different things. Some activities/places work, some don't, but we still try. If they're not working, I don't allow him to act up and ruin it for anybody else, because that would be unfair.
So, earlier this week when I headed out with my two little ones, and things started to not go so well, I decided we had to leave. Of course, once he realized that I was in the process of leaving, my little man got quite upset. But that was okay, because he could scream for a minute while the lady manning the check out desk helped me. There was no line up, I knew we could be out in a matter of minutes. BUT....
But, said lady thought that rather than assisting me in my efforts to procure a speedy exit, her skills would be best used to attempt to intervene. Bad idea. She began telling him how to act, and when she got nowhere with him, she turned her attentions to me. Offering unsolicited, unwelcome, parenting advice. Well, gee, thanks. Now, my already upset boy has added to his frustrations the fact that some strange lady is telling him what's what, and his safe person in times of crisis (me!) is currently embroiled in an impassioned one on one with this lovely gem of a woman. GRRRRRRR....Mama Bear's claws couldn't help coming out just a little...
So, long after we could have been gone, I'm still there... and boy is now in full meltdown mode. Thanks for all your help. At this point, the lady is irate and beyond rude, and I am livid. I left the place in tears. I go lots of places where I've had to leave, but it has been a long time since I have left in tears. This woman found just a few minutes of my daily life so utterly unbearable...and had no trouble sharing that with me. This interchange left me rattled for days. Being angry takes a lot of energy, and I know that even if I have the right to be angry, it doesn't mean I have to let that emotion ruin my day. But I just couldn't let this go.
I reported the incident to the director of the place (a place that is funded by tax payer dollars, by the way.) At first, she spoke in defense of her employee, but after a lengthy conversation she changed her tune. The more I spoke to her about the incident, and how it made me feel, I honestly think she was ashamed that it had occured.
Hubby wasn't content to leave it at that, he had seen how upset I was by the incident, and he thought it warranted a little follow up. He learned that the employee would be reprimanded, and would be required to undergo sensitivity training. Victory.
I am proud. I can look at my boy and know that I stood up for him, when he is too young to stand up for himself. It's the job of all parents, add a sprinkle of special needs, and it becomes your primary role. To make the community accessible, aware, and sensitive.
I didn't just take this on for my boy though. I can honestly say that I will never bring him through those walls again. I much prefer places that are welcoming and warm. And I've found that there are lots of them. However, I did it knowing that somewhere in this town, is another mom who wakes up in the morning, and finds her daily dose of courage to take her child with special needs out into the world. And that she too does it knowing it won't be easy. And if, perchance, her child decides it's more than they can handle, maybe somebody will be helpful to her. We fight the good fight not just for ourselves, but for all members of our special needs community.
The whole thing, although resolved, still makes me sad. I was just a frazzled mom trying to leave. A little help was all I wanted.