I know, two posts in a day. Maybe I'll take a week off to make up for it.
Her Bad Mother posted today about whether it is discriminatory for store owners to not want babies in their stores. This just after I had posted about ADHD and my frustration sometimes with people's reaction to my daughter's behavior. ADHD, bipolar, autism, aspergers, PDD-NOS, all have the commonality of being mostly "invisible" disabilities. It is not immediately clear that the child you see as "misbehaving" in public is actually having a meltdown due to sensory overload or the inability to appropriately process something they are experiencing. And no, I'm not saying that it's easier for parents of children with visible disabilities. Its just different experiences that we have. ( I have my own pet peeves about the people who stare at the boy with leg braces or the girl in the wheelchair. Go up and smile and say "hello" to them for fuck's sake. They're people, not zoo exhibits.)
There was recently another online shakeup over a mother's complaint on her blog regarding the behavior of another child in the library. Mothers of autistic children recognized some hallmark signs of autism (hand flapping, low frustration tolerance) and went apeshit in their defense of the child, prompting Smockity to remove the post and apologize.
One of the commenter's on HerBadMother's post wrote this:
"I am a mom and have 3 kids- 2 younger ones (9 & 10) that I take with me everywhere I go. They are well-behaved and don’t go into stores acting stupid, being loud, and manhandling the items and breaking things. But there are ppl out there, and you have all seen them, I know I have, who come in with WILD, unruly, loud, destructive children and the parents don’t even TRY to control them. I have seen it NUMEROUS times in almost every store I have been to. It is THOSE parents with THOSE kids that make ppl leary of having young kids around & I don’t blame them. It is a parent’s responsibility to make sure your children act civilized and behaved when in a public place, especially a store that sells breakable items."
OK, for one? HOW NICE FOR YOU that your children are well-behaved. Lovely, really. You must, by your own definition, be a REALLY GOOD PARENT. That of course leaves me contemplating the fact that in comparison with YOU, I must not be a Very Good Parent at all. Because MY KIDS? They are sometimes the "THOSE KIDS" you speak of with such contempt.
Honestly, when I hear someone tell me how their children are always perfectly behaved in public and that parents of poorly behaved children have no right to take their children into the public eye, I want to SMACK SOMEONE. I want to have a big fat tantrum of my own, right in the middle of the fucking room. How dare you tell me that my daughter has less of a right than your child, who blessedly for you, lacks neurological issues? How. Dare. You. I'd love to be one of those parents with perfectly behaved children. Truly, I would. Its the fantasy I always had of motherhood. I pictured myself looking exactly like June Cleaver, feeding my perfectly groomed tots perfectly cooked food, placing my perfectly cool hand on their feverish foreheads when they were sick, reading them stories in a perfectly expressive voice while they lay tucked in their perfect beds in their perfect pj's, playing perfectly nice games like Monopoly and Scrabble with them. OK, I do some of those things anyway (well, not Monopoly and Scrabble, more like Whack-A-Mole, but you know what I mean). Never in my life did I imagine that the biggest challenge I would face as a mother had everything to do with something I could not control.
I'd love it if the people who complain about my children being in public would offer to come babysit my children for me so that I can go shopping or run errands without them. I'm a single mom now, don't you know, and can't really afford to hire a babysitter for the weekly grocery shop. CPS rather frowns on me leaving them home alone or locking them in the car - or better yet, leashing them to the parking meter. Or perhaps you feel that since my children aren't always well-behaved that we don't deserve to have groceries?
Maybe when my kid does have a meltdown in the store and I am frantically trying to deal with it, instead of staring at us or speaking rudely about us, maybe you could help me maneuver my cart out of the way and keep an eye on my other child while I am otherwise engaged. Maybe you could ask me "How can I help?" when you can clearly see that I am overwhelmed and trying to stay calm. Maybe you could just give me a friendly look instead of staring at me like you wished my kid and I didn't exist.
I'm not making this shit up. People do this to us, all the time. When I was testing the waters in my faith journey, I tried going to a couple of churches. One place I went to I thought would be welcoming of people with differences. I blogged about it before, how after the service, my kids threw simultaneous tantrums. NOT ONE PERSON OFFERED TO HELP ME. They just stood there in horrified silence as I worked to corral my kids and get them out the door to the car. Trying to figure out how to carry my then-60 pound daughter to the car and not leave her also-tantruming brother inside alone with strangers was a little bit more than I could handle at the moment. I never set foot in that church again.
Maybe I can't write about this, maybe I shouldn't. I'm angry right now. Maybe being angry isn't the right way to change people's perceptions, but I can tell you that it is not fun being the person who gets stared at and talked about, no matter what the reason. I don't accept that I should feel shameful or guilty because I don't have perfect children. Except that when we get treated this way, I do. Feel shamed. Guilty. Like I'm a bad person, a shitty mother. A less-than-stellar citizen.
I hate it.
**Check out this great post by Leah at workitmom.com on kids on airplanes. I puffy heart her.