People often talk about the behavior in kids, especially kids with special needs, and the remarks they get. Do you drag your screaming toddler out of the store or do you let him flail it out in aisle 3? So you brave the store at nap time when you absolutely cant avoid it? Do you respond to the looks? The stares? What about kids with special needs? Should you ban them from stores completely because something could possibly go horribly wrong? I don’t know, I don’t have the answers. I take a deep breath and go as quickly as possible and hope that nothing happens. And sometimes it works, and sometimes I leave the cart behind and carry out a seemingly possessed child.
Josh *looks* like your “Normal” kid. He doesn’t appear that he struggles with anything, might be a better way of saying it. He doesn’t have flashing lights and whistles alerting the press that he might have a melt down at any given minute. On occasion we can skate through the stores and no one will bat an eye. But there are those times when all eyes are ON YOU.
Anyone who has kids knows what I am talking about. The full blown melt downs because of something. Magnified only by the fact that anything you do to calm said child is only going to escalate things. The stares. The looks. The whispers. I don’t even hear them anymore. We need food just as much as you, you go your way, I will go mine.
A few weeks ago there was a little boy probably about 4 years old, who was acting out like 4 years olds do. He wanted candy, his mom said no. And when she turned her back, he loaded his arms up with candy and marched off. Which is when she saw him and the game was on. She followed him through the store yelling absurd things while he calmly walked just out of her reach – unwrapping each piece of candy and eating it. It was your typical scene. One Im sure we have all seen atleast once if not more. Sure, I looked. Everyone looked. I didn’t stare, but I caught her eye, and she stopped. And gave me a piece of her mind.
“I hope you have a boy child!” she yelled in my face. “And I hope he ruins your life like mine does! I hope you chase him through the stores and he eats all the candy he wants and makes you tear your hair out, and I hope then you remember this!!!” She pointed her finger in the direction of her son who, obviously heard her. Smirked. And ran the other direction. She yelled and shuffled after him.
And I stood there, holding the hand of a seemingly normal eight year old boy.
Who also heard every word she said.
People often assume that because he doesn’t talk – he doesn’t understand. But he understands. Oh he understands. And I knew he had heard what she said, and as much as I wished he hadn’t, I knew he had understood atleast some of what she had said. Because in the moment of her frustration – she belittled every little boy who just wants a piece of candy and doesn’t want listen. Because what boy does?
I held his hand a bit tighter, and when we got to the car – I talked to him. While he listened. As he does. And I hoped, with everything in me that he understood what I was saying, because if there was one time I needed him to understand it was now. I needed him to understand beyond his years what I was trying to tell him.
I told him to the best of my ability that I was happy he was mine. That he was here. That he frustrated me, but that I was sure I frustrated him. I told him that somehow…we would make this life work. That somehow, we would figure it out. And while he didn’t say a word…I hope my words stuck somewhere beside the doubt of that woman’s.
No, kids DON’T listen. They don’t always behave, they embarrass us to no end sure – they cause us to tear our hair out. But that is only because we allow them to. They are learning. They don’t KNOW everything. Despite what so many people choose to believe, these KIDS are just kids. And somewhere deep down inside I believe they want to make us proud. They act out, they fight, they scream and yell and kick and bite. And they don’t always make us happy. But they are tiny humans, with feelings and understanding even if they don’t have the words or the right actions.
I am not embarrassed of Josh because of something that makes him stand out against a crowd. I am not upset because a little boy was running away causing disruption in a store. That didn’t bother me. The woman? She bothered me. She should, know better. She should be teaching her son, by example, how to behave. And stopping to tell a stranger how displeased you are about his behavior does nothing good for a child. Because while he might not have understood her words – he knew she was not happy with him, he saw her talking to me, and he heard her put him down. He may not know what the words meant, but I am pretty sure her point got across just fine.
The little things. The small moments. The random outbursts are what really count. You can do a thousand positive things, but one small negative can unravel everything you have worked so hard on. I just hope that Josh knows that despite my outbursts and frustration – he is loved. And wanted. And I am proud of him and every little bit of frustrating “boy child” behavior.