Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Look


Once upon a time, I was one of "those" people. You know the people I'm talking about. The ones that when your child was acting less than perfect in public that gave you the dirty looks and you knew were making comments you couldn't hear, or well maybe you could hear them.  I'm guilty of giving those looks and making those comments of "my child will never act like that", "what that kid needs is a good spanking", "if they would only discipline their child...", "they need to learn to tell that kid no". Yes, I know, I'm a no good, horrible person and yes, karma is a pain in the butt.

The Look, why yes, I have now on too many occasions to count been on the receiving end of this embarrassing look. It isn't fun and neither is the fear of going in public because you know you're going to receive The Look. The Look, has its desired effect, it makes you feel inadequate as a parent. It makes you wonder what you are doing wrong, when you are trying so desperately hard to do everything right. It also makes you wonder how to shut your kid up and quick before you look like even more of a failure of a parent.

We have left get togethers at friends' homes with Cameron being carried out tucked under our arm sideways, facing away from our bodies, so he couldn't bite us, while he kicked and thrashed all the way to the car, getting him in his car seat wasn't a picnic either. We have had meltdowns in the middle of parking lots where Cameron threw himself down suddenly on the pavement with traffic coming and nearly jerked his hand out of mine and has caused me to have some pulled muscles in my back. Anywhere Cameron doesn't want to leave is a place for a potential meltdown, he doesn't transition well. The park or a friend's house are particularly challenging to leave. As for inside a store, there are any number of things that can set him off. Too much noise, too many people, him being too tired, smells, any one of these things or something else entirely can set off a tantrum.

Once when Cameron was younger, I'm thinking around eighteen months or so, I had an older lady make a comment to me in the grocery store that floored me once I wrapped my mind around the fact that yes, she just said that to me. We had just gotten done with a therapy session, he was tired, in desperate need of a nap and so he was crying and reaching for me to take him out of the buggy and carry him. His cries only got louder when I couldn't take him out because I had to unload the groceries onto the conveyor belt. She turned to me and smiled and said, "I think I've seen you on TV! You must have been on Nanny 911." Then she finished her transaction and left while I picked my jaw off the floor.

For a while, I did indeed wonder how I had managed to turn my child into a brat. I didn't buy him something every time we went into a store, he didn't always get his way, if he did something wrong we tried time out or taking toys away that he liked. Since his diagnosis I now know that it isn't anything to do with my parenting skills. Now that he is getting older the tantrums are less frequent and he is now starting to tell us in his own ways when he's getting overstimulated when we are out in public.

To the "Little Know It All Old Lady" I ran across one day in the grocery store, your comment has stayed with me, as a reminder of how not to be toward a fellow parent. Yes, I still give A Look, to other parents when out in public, but its not The Look. This Look, is a look of sympathy, one that conveys the sentiment that I have been in your shoes and I know its not easy, a look that says I hope your kid just needs a nap and a prayer that they are not dealing with what we autism or other special needs parents deal with daily.

So all you people who give The Look, just remember karma can come back to bite you in the butt. It certainly bit mine and has yet to let go. Think outside the box and realize that it isn't always poor parenting or a kid who is a spoiled brat, but sometimes there are medical reasons why a kid acts a certain way in public. To all the people who have been on the receiving end of The Look, hold your head up high and remember you are doing the best that you can and it does get easier.


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