I can remember a family who had four children and they would prepare four different meals for their kids because they were all picky eaters. "Not me, I'll never...." Cut to me frantically making Liam his own meal every time we eat, even going so far as to pull into two different drive through windows if what they are offering on the menu is not to his liking. Shoot me.
|This is what I found in my bed the other night.|
But, let's really think about it. How many of us have judged that woman in the grocery store smackin' her toddler's bottom in the aisle because they won't quit whining about the sugar cereal (that is strategically placed at their eye level)?
Or, the lady who is calmly pushing her cart with the child who is screaming bloody murder in the seat. "She is just blatantly trying to ruin my day with all that screaming. Ugh! And, look at her, she's just staring at the laundry detergents. PICK ONE, LADY, AND GET THE HELL OUTTA DODGE!!" Truth be told, that mom is staring at the detergents thinking about the cocktail or two she will be making when she gets home. She has probably checked out a long time ago and the screaming is white noise.
The minute you make these little judgments in your head, you will find yourself the following week leaving an entire cart of groceries in the store with your little one hanging on your arm like a maniacally, swinging monkey, kicking yourself for not remembering why you don't bring your kids to the grocery store in the first place.
We all do it. We judge others. And, it's so ugly. Especially when the judging is being done to you.
My child was the one who kept getting kicked out of preschools because of his aggression. If you knew me, you would know that there is not really an aggressive bone in my body. I am a peacemaker- in my family, friendships, and even to the door to door salesman that I can't seem to say no to. So, to have someone call me up and tell me my child is no longer welcome at their sweet, little church's mom's day out is horrifying.
This came at a time in my life when I needed those breaks so desperately. We had not quite figured out exactly what diagnosis Liam had and I was at a loss as to what to do with him for 8 hours a day. Life was stressful and I was hoping that the structured environment of a school setting would help both him and me. I went in to meet with the director and quickly became a puddle. She felt compassion for me and decided to give Liam another chance.
"He can do it. I promise."
The next day, he decided to hit the demure, little blond girl because she was 'looking at him'. Ironically that day they were learning the Bible verse, "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!" (eeeeehhhh...let's ease up on the strength...you've got that covered, Liam!)
On that day, I remember walking in to pick him up early and seeing some of the mothers huddled around. As soon as I walked by, it was just like the movies, their hushed whispers stopped and as soon as I was out of (what they thought) earshot, they said, "that's his mom." Like I needed a scarlet 'M' around my neck. "He has a problem. You don't understand. I'm not a bad parent, I promise." These were the things I wanted to say, but I knew they wouldn't really get it.
A year later, I was confronted by several friends in my group that told me that they were concerned that I was not doing anything to help Liam and his aggression. Several of these friends had girls and they genuinely feared every time we got together that Liam was going to lash out at them. And, looking back, I can't say I blame them. He was out of control, and I had tried all I knew to do at that point to help him.
But, something shifted in our relationship. I no longer felt their support and love. I felt judged by them and found myself staying away from our play dates and get-togethers.
Thankfully, things have turned around. Liam has learned a lot more self control. But that has not been without hours and hours of therapy, ABA, tears, screaming, giving up, and getting back up again. And, at times, I am mentally walking on eggshells when he goes to play with others in the neighborhood. I cringe when I see a parent walking towards me waiting for them to scold me for something Liam has done.
This fight is a lonely one. And, many will judge you when they absolutely do not know the whole story or anything that is going on. It is unfair, but we cannot say that we have not done the same. And sometimes, I have found myself looking at someone who seems to be judging and saying, "I'm sorry, my son has autism. I hope you understand." And, a lot of times they do- especially once they know the whole story. It disarms and can bring empathy to the situation.
The quote that comes to mind is the famous one, most often credited to Ian McLaren,
“Let us be kind, one to another, for most of us are fighting a hard battle.”