Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

Please Just Cut Us Some Slack January 20, 2015

I’m nervous about hitting publish on this for fear of making people that I know and care about feel uncomfortable (or angry).  But I feel like that’s also part of why I need to write my feelings and hit publish.  Because I feel uncomfortable and sometimes angry and  I want to change peoples thinking – and/or perception.

 

The other day I read a post from Laurie about her son Jake.  On it I commented the foll:

 

  1. “I hear you loud and clear. I am in the same boat with my now 7 year old. People see a bad kid or a parent who needs to discipline her kid but most of the time that’s not at all what’s happening. It hurts. I often see on Facebook where people (I know and care about) make statuses about what they would do if their child ever behaved the way they just saw a kid behaving in a store. Or how back in their day they would never dream of talking to their parent the way they just saw a child do. I always try to respectfully steer them away from that kind of thinking. I will say things like “I understand why that’s your initial reaction but judging another persons parenting is tricky business. You don’t know anything about their story or what lead them to the point that you saw.” I like to think it makes a difference but I don’t think it does because people will then comment back saying things like “I get why YOU are saying that but …(blah blah blah)”. They always have a but and that deflates me.

Sorry this was so long. It touched a nerve.”

 

 

I grew up in a home that was BIG on manners and respect and working hard and maintaining a positive public image.  I understand the value of having well behaved children.  I was not raised to feel entitled or to be demanding.  I am doing my best to carry that on with my own children.  I do not have any intention of spoiling my children with material things or giving in to their whining or pouting.

BUT … and this is a BIG BUT (lol @ big but) … There is a difference between having ungrateful, bratty kids and dealing with a child who doesn’t understand social expectations or who hasn’t yet learned the proper way to handle his emotions or who is melting down due to a sensory issue or who has no other way to communicate their needs/feelings when they are tired or hungry.

 

By all accounts, Jay looks “normal”.  He very often acts in a way that others would deem “normal.”  Cute and charming and funny even.  I’ve been out with him and had strangers make comments to me about another family that I’m sure they would not have made had they known that Jay was autistic.

 

Even when you have experience with autism (or other disorders with similar characteristics) it is very difficult to tell if a child is just plain rude or if there is some underlying issue.  It is damn near impossible to tell the difference when you have none or limited experience.

I understand how things can look.  But looks can be very VERY deceiving and it does no-one any good to jump to conclusions or make judgment calls and then blast those parents (or children) on social media.

 

When you say “If that were me … this is what I’d do …” or “There’s no way my child would ever … “ or “If I did what that kid did …” or when you post a video of a child “misbehaving” or hitting their parent or screaming because they’re not getting the candy bar they have asked for you are passing judgment that you have NO BUSINESS passing.  I’m not even sure what the point of posting those comments/videos is.  Is it entertainment?  Do you think some bad parent out there will read it and suddenly have an epiphany about all the things they are doing wrong?  Does it make you feel better about yourself (and your own children)?

 

I’m NOT saying there aren’t kids who couldn’t use some better parenting.  I’m NOT saying there aren’t kids whose parents don’t teach them proper manners or whose parents haven’t taught them to be respectful.

 

What I AM saying, is that there’s no way for you to know which is which when you see them for a minute in a store or on a play ground.  It’s not right or fair to judge someones entire life based on ONE situation or interaction you saw.

 

I could go on and on about all the reasons that a child might be having a particularly bad day but that doesn’t matter.  What matters is that instead of judging or making comments or video taping what is obviously not a good moment in time for that family, most parents could use some more support.  WE could use some help.  We could use a kind word of encouragement.  We could use you letting us go ahead of you in the line so we can get our screaming child out of there quicker.  We would really prefer not to be bashed (including virtually and secretly) for one moment in our parenting lives.

For me, and I think for most parents and care givers, whatever disgust you are feeling at our bad parenting, we are feeling worse.  We are sad that our children are hurting and there is nothing we can do about it.  We are ashamed that other people are witnessing this.  We are scared that our children will never learn how to control their emotions and we are worried about what will happen when they are older and stronger.  We have already questioned our decision to take the kid to wherever it was that you saw us.  We are beating ourselves up wondering what we should have done differently before things got out of control.  We don’t want to draw public attention to our child in a time of pain and we don’t want to disturb other people.  We are tired.  Lord are we tired.

 

I’m not alone in this.  I read it all the time from other moms who have children who struggle socially.

I really wish you would read some of what other moms have to say on this.  I know there will still be those people who feel like I’m making excuses for badness or who think I’m being overly emotional and sensitive.  I assure you I’m not.  I know how I raise my kids and what I teach them.  I know that most of the time they are polite and sweet and we can get through an outing incident free.  I also know that there have been times when Jay has thrown a fit in the supermarket and I’ve had to leave my groceries there and physically drag him out as he cried and screamed mean things at me.  I know there have been times when he’s pointed in my face and yelled at me that I can’t tell him no and that he wants whatever it is that he wants RIGHT NOW.  I know there have been times when, to an onlooker, it would seem like I have no control over my child and that he needs a good beating perhaps to get him back in line.  All those strangers couldn’t have been more wrong in their assessment of us.

 

Below are just a couple of posts written by other moms that I remember and I thought would be a good back up to this.

 

 

http://www.lovethatmax.com/2015/01/special-needs-mom-sanity.html

 

http://www.laurencasper.com/2014/11/20/the-hardest-part-of-autism-and-it-isnt-him/

 

https://rhemashope.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/mine-too/

 

I wrote the following post in June 2012.  Jay no longer wears diapers and has stopped eating cookies altogether.  But beyond that, not much else has changed.  He is better about it, but sharing is still hard for him and he still tantrums when he doesn’t get his own way.  The I-Pad still goes everywhere.  They are less frequent and it’s easier to calm him down but we still deal with meltdowns for reasons we didn’t see coming.  This is not an easy road and these are not easy behaviours to curb.  Cut parents some friggin slack.  Most of us are DOING THE BEST WE CAN and what may look like a bad parenting decision to you may be a reason to celebrate to someone else.

 

https://lifeonthejtrain.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/its-so-easy-to-judge/

 

 

 

P.S.  I’d be so grateful if you would add the link for any other posts that jump into your mind in the comments so myself as well as other people can read about yours or other peoples experience.

 

P.P.S.  I’m sorry if I’ve hurt any feelings or stepped on any toes.  That’s not my intention.

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8 Responses to “Please Just Cut Us Some Slack”

  1. Well said. We live in a world that is full of judgement because people think that they can raise themselves up when they put others down.

  2. No need to apologize for anything. If someone hasn’t walked in your shoes, they have NO idea what you deal with day in and day out. Just know down deep in your soul that you are the best mom for your boys, and more than anything else you do for them, you LOVE them. Everyone else can go pound sand you know where.

    My son (12) has sensory, learning, and attention issues, and these days his anxiety is what brings the biggest challenges. Recently, my son and I were having dinner at a restaurant. After we ordered, his anxiety about having to go to school the next day, flared up. I had to have our meals boxed up so we could leave. But at least I can take him to a restaurant these days. When he was little, there were 2 or 3 years I couldn’t take him to a restaurant.

  3. lncoolj Says:

    Absolutely brilliant post. This is how I’ve been feeling for years. I shyed away from mumsy groups because the expectation of how I should discipline my child. I knew she wasn’t just “badly behaved” and that there were underlying issues.
    It’s such a shame that some people can’t understand anything which is out of their little bubble. Worse, they don’t even try to.

  4. therocchronicles Says:

    When the Roc was younger I had someone tell me that he should “spend a day at Rose’s boot camp and that would straighten him out” while I was struggling to get my son out of a little neighborhood store. I wrote about it, but haven’t located it on my blog. I remember feeling so shamed and I was very angry at this woman. I drove home shaking. I still get looks from people (just last night at his swim lesson in fact!) but I know that these people do not know what’s up with my kiddo, and while I wish they weren’t judging me, I know that they are. I commend you for writing this and hitting publish. I know that by telling your story, some of those around you might think twice the next time they see someone struggling through their day.

  5. Lisa Peters Says:

    I think you are very brave. In the words of Margaret Mead…. “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world, for indeed that is all that ever has.”

  6. Amy Says:

    You hit the nail on the head! I am so happy to feel like I am not alone. It’s comforting to read your words, knowing that they perfectly convey what I would tell others if I were as strong and brave.

    This is my first time commenting on your blog, but I have been “stalking” it for quite some time. Over the past three years I have read dozens of Autism related blogs, but yours is by my favorite and the one in which I can most closely relate. We all know that Autism is a spectrum, but I am pretty confident that your Jay and my Lisa are sitting on the same exact spot. My daughter turned 5 this month and reading posts of yours from 2 years ago is pretty much EXACTLY what I am experiencing right now with my daughter.

    Thank you for sharing your life and experiences with others. It has been a tremendous source of comfort, knowledge, and humor for me. You are truly awesome!!

    • OhMaGosh Amy you have just made me turn all soft and squishy inside. Your words mean so much to me. Thank you for stalking 🙂 and for commenting. This life can feel very lonely sometimes but we are def not alone. Hugs and kisses (if she likes them) to your daughter 🙂

  7. Andrea Says:

    I kind of love, not like ur blogs. I don’t like them because u always leave me almost “bawlin” all the time. I enjoy reading your blogs to see how strong you are for such a “small person” :), also how deeply in love you are with your children. People will always be people but we don’t have the right to judge a situation we have no clue about. A lot of parents with “normal” kids could not spend half a day in your shoes (parents with special need kids), i therefore lift my hat to you and all the other parents. Have a wonderful day Jay, Deenie, Ace and DMX :). Happy New Year by the way. xoxoxox.


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