Apparently the earlier rant did not let out the excess irritation I am feeling, and since the kids are quiet, though neither is napping like they are supposed to be, i may as well complain to the whole internet universe.
I took Jaymes to the little mall playground today, along with Sierra of course. There were maybe... 6 other moms in there, mostly with babies under 2. Four of them were sitting in a little circle by the tunnel and slide, the typical mommy clique scene.
Here I am, in my denim shorts and my $1.25 July 4th T-shirt I got at Target yesterday... Looking like I usually do. I grudgingly admit that I'm a complete failure at dressing myself. I have no eye for fashion, nor do I care. Nor can I afford to care. the $1.25 shirt is the first new piece of clothing I've gotten since my mother and I went shirt shopping at Goodwill. Don't laugh, rich people donate there and then people like us find awesome stuff cheap. But anyway, here is the circle of 25-30 year old mothers, each beautifully dressed, styled hair -pokes at ponytail- with their immaculately dressed babies and matching diaper bags. I know I look like crap to them, oh well I suppose, I can't really do anything about that anyway. I sat on the opposite side of the play area by myself, and let the kids go. Where does Jaymes run, immediately?
Why, to the circle of stepford mommies. Yay. He takes a toy that the little ones are playing with (they and he were about the same size, Jaymes is really tiny) and sits down next to one of the women. She looks at him like he's a bug or something, then they all ignore him. I call him, and call him, but he never listens to me anymore unless I bellow, and I do mean bellow. This mall happens to have a police station in it, so I opted not to scream bloody murder at him. I'm trying to yell less and get his attention in other ways anyway.
I walked over, apologized, and picked him up to take him back to the other side, where a perfectly nice ambulance slide thingy was. He kicked and screamed the entire way there, earning me more looks. I put him down, he played nicely for a moment, and then I had to go save Sierra from an untimely death falling off the big slide. when I got back, Jaymes was in the circle of women again, this time sucking a pacifier. Why he did this, I do not know. He hasn't touched a pacifier since he was six months old. The stepford mommies were horrified, and the one was repeating over and over "Ewwwww! Gross!" The one it belonged to didn't say anything. Her friend offered it back to her with a "should I throw this away, or do you want it back?" and they tossed it. At this point the entire circle was shooting me the death eyes. All I could do was apologize profusely and haul him away again. I didn't want to leave, because Sierra was having fun, and it seems like everytime Sierra is having a good time we have to leave because of Jaymes' behavior.
He wasn't even being bad either. He wanted to sit with them, he wanted to make new friends. Jaymes loves the ladies. He didn't understand that tasting another kid's binky is taboo. They were acting as if he is some kind of horrible monster, ripping binkies from the mouths of babes and stomping them or something. He didn't do it to be mean, or rude. He didn't mean it. He doesn't know better, though he probably should. His behavior was very good, no crying, no fits, just some minor yells when I hauled him away from the stepford mommies. Any other time I would have walked away from the experience with pride, pleased that Jaymes kept himself under control and played without a meltdown. But no, these ladies screwed it up.
I see it from their side,I really do. They have every right to take their kids to the playground without fear of some kid taking the pacifier and tasting it, and they shouldn't be bothered. I can see their annoyance. But you know, they have the chance daily to go to the playground, and maybe a few times out of hundreds will they encounter a child like Jaymes. We, on the other hand, suffer in public places every time we go. Is it unreasonable to ask for a little patience, a little compassion? I explained to them, toward the end, that Jaymes is autistic and that's why he was behaving the way he was. They didn't give a hoot, they just kept glaring at me, and the one dismissed me with a little jerk of the head like I and my children are somehow lesser beings than that perfectly groomed little group.
When a kid comes up to me, in public, I give them a big smile and talk to them. As long as the parent doesn't find it creepy, of course. I don't think that it's so very difficult to be kind to someone else's kid in a public place. You come to a playground, don't you expect to see kids other than your own? I know I can (and do!) play with other people's kids on the playground if they approach me, and it doesn't take away from Jaymes or Sierra's enjoyment.
I'm sick of feeling like a slug on the bottom of someone's fancy expensive shoes. I'm sick of being humiliated every time we step out of our house. I don't WANT to be embarrassed about my child. There's no shame in Jaymes having a meltdown. We do what we can to control it, and we move on with what we're doing. I don't want to be the mom who whines about how horrible her kid is... But at some point, that positive outlook just goes. Ever since Jaymes started having behavior troubles a few years ago, we've been outcasts. We have very few friends, and most of them were left behind in Florida when we moved. The one friend I do have in NC is an awesome person, but I know she vastly prefers having either just me, or Sierra out with us instead of Jaymes. The neighbors avoid us. The Walmart people look at us like we're horrible parents (and Jason WORKS THERE, so go figure.) and in general, I feel like a leper.
Why can't people be a bit more tolerant?
I've been tempted so many times to stick one of those "I have Autism, what's your excuse" shirts on Jaymes. Then they'd know, and maybe they'd think twice before critisizing me. But I hate those shirts, I feel like it's in poor taste to parade around Jaymes' Autism. It just doesn't feel right. I know a lot of you Autism parents like them, it's just always left a bad taste in my mouth.
In the end, it's up to us to educate people, and to advocate for our kids. I can be an almighty bitch online or in writing.. Not so much in person. I'm the doormat type in person, and it's been a long hard road getting past that. I'm still not there, but I'm better than I was.
Anyway, Jaymes and I are off to pick up my friend April and go out sandal shopping for Sierra. April will rip the head off anyone who says anything about Jaymes, she's just that cool of a person. Thank god for friends who, even though they don't have kids, understand, tolerate, and love Jaymes.
"Take off your cape and just be a friend."
4 days ago