I talk a good game but it’s hard work not being judgmental. I know that. I constantly have to check myself.
I see a kid who looks too big to be in a stroller and my initial thought is “That’s just ridiculous. Make that kid get up and walk.”
Then I think “Deens, (me) you don’t know what’s going on or if there is a medical, psychological, neurological whateverical reason that this child needs to be strolled. Don’t judge”
I hold the door open and smile at the mom pushing her very heavy child through the door. If there is something going on, the last thing she needs is me rolling my eyes or making her feel any worse than she might already.
I see a kid who looks too big to be using a bottle.
“Ugh, I think. My kids were done with bottles at their 1st birthday. Why would a parent even WANT their child to be using bottles. They’re such a pain in the butt to clean.”
But wait … I have to stop myself. I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe the child won’t or can’t eat. Maybe the mom has tried everything and has decided it’s better to let the child drink from a bottle than starve to death. Far-fetched? Maybe. But I don’t know so I don’t judge.
I hear parents all the time talk about how their kid doesn’t sleep through the night. I used to be the one who would say “Just let them cry it out for a couple of nights. It works. Both my kids sleep through the night and have done so since they were just a few months old.” Little did I know then how fortunate I was (we were). It’s not always so simple.
Recently, there was a lady in the supermarket with her daughter – who looked to be about 8 or 9. The daughter asked her mom to buy a sugary cereal. Mom said no and the kid lost her mind. She threw a huge tantrum in the aisle and the Mom (looking horrified) finally said “That’s it, no cell phone for the rest of the day.” Another lady commented that kids today are spoiled and a child that young shouldn’t have a cell phone and back in her day, kids spent time outside playing instead of inside texting and playing video games. I couldn’t NOT say something. I very calmly told her, I don’t think it’s our place to judge. We don’t know what’s going on in their family or what lead them to give the child a cell phone. After that, Judgy McJudgepants, had no comment.
Now, believe me, I know that we’re the minority. Those of us with special needs kids. Maybe most of the kids that I’m giving the benefit of the doubt to, don’t deserve it. Many kids are over-indulged and a lot of kids could probably do with some tighter boundaries but since I can’t look at them and tell which is which, I just assume that the parents are doing the best they can. For more reasons than I can ever list, what works for one family won’t work for another.
No-one can tell just by looking at my Jay, that he has a lot of struggles. He looks healthy. He looks normal. He’s cute and happy and playful. No-one would know that when he doesn’t share his toys, it’s not because he’s spoiled. You wont know that we work on his sharing skills ALL THE TIME and have made A LOT OF PROGRESS. No-one would know that we allow him to eat cookies for breakfast, because often times, it’s that or nothing at all. You won’t know that there was a time that he wouldn’t eat cookies so cookies for breakfast isn’t a treat, it’s a friggin victory. No-one would know that even at 4, he’s still wearing diapers because he’s autistic and potty training is difficult for him and to be honest, it’s not at the top of our priority list. No-one would know that we let him bring his i-pad to birthday parties because it keeps him calm and running around with a bunch of rowdy kids is
not always rarely fun for him. It’s a major accomplishment that we even made it to the party and stayed till the end with no melt downs.
I’m aware that it doesn’t look like progress to the outside eye, but despite what you might think, my boys work very hard and I’m proud of them and how much progress they have made in all areas. I’m proud of how far I’ve personally come. I’m proud that I’m bold enough NOW to voice my opinion when I hear others making assumptions or jumping to conclusions and talking behind backs even when it’s not directed at my child. Hey … maybe it was directed at one of your children. And to me, one of yours is one of mine.