Have you ever been in public with your child and had someone make a comment on how you are parenting your mini-me? Or the noise level coming from said child?
I know I sure have.
You know the ones. People who feel the need to comment on your screaming kid or your poor parenting. Or folks who love to tell you how to handle a 2 year old having a tantrum.
It is particularly bad on our side of town. Here people are not exactly known for keeping their mouths shut. I have had complete strangers at the grocery store tell me to shut my kid up.
When Zion was a toddler, I didn’t know how to handle these types of situations. I would have a mini panic-attack…fidgeting, sweating, my eyes welling up with tears.
(Why oh why couldn’t these strangers feel my pain?)
I even carried business cards for a while to explain to people why my child was so noisy and unruly.
But slowly I learned that I don’t owe anyone an explanation about anything.
It has taken me 8 years to get to this place, where I can just be still and let people be who they are. Even if I am punching them in my mind.
Enter this morning’s coffee house visit.
The line was painful. And yes, Zion was with me. But the line inside was much shorter than the drive-thru, so we went in. We got in line behind a very cute young man. Zion was mostly quiet and well-behaved, aside from the occasional squeal of joy.
I’m not going to lie, his squealing is pretty loud sometimes. I’m sure the first time people hear it they are caught off guard. But it isn’t intentional. It is just part of the autism. He is constantly making noise.
Honestly, I am so used to his adulations that I barely notice them anymore. It is a beautiful sound to me, like singing. Or laughing.
But apparently the woman two people ahead of me in line did not agree.
The first time Zion squealed, she shot a look at him. And then me.
I just smiled and cocked my head to the side, like the sarcastic bizzle I am.
The second time Zion squealed, he started jumping up and down. Miss Thang did a side-glance. And then sighed deeply through her nose.
Careful there, windy.
The third time Zion squealed, Ms. Tude muttered in ultra passive-aggressive form, “Shut UP already.”
For those of you who know me, you already know how miraculous it is that I didn’t stop right there, unhinge my mama bear jaw, and swallow this chick whole.
But these kinds of things don’t happen very much anymore, so when they do I can generally keep my cool.
Zion squealed again. I wasn’t about to silence him. He has as much right to his voice as anyone. And besides, he was standing right in front of a case of cookies and baked goods, what do you expect?
To be honest, I was thinking about jumping up and down myself.
After all, there was lemon loaf.
Then Zion squealed again. This one was pretty loud. Apparently, that was it. Nose-breather had just had enough.
She turned around and stared hard at me.
And just when I was about to open my mouth and unleash The Kracken, the cutie man in line between us said to Ms. Snippy, “Lady, do you have a problem?”
(Mmmm hmmm, that’s right. Thank you, my puppet.)
She folded her arms and turned her back to me and said, “That kid is getting on everyone’s nerves.”
My defender continued.
“Well lady, guess what? YOU’RE getting on MY nerves.”
She muttered something under her breath and stormed out…without her coffee.
(Well, THAT escalated quickly.)
I was so stunned I didn’t say anything. And for me that’s reaaaaaaally stunned, because I promise you, I always have something to say.
The man turned around and looked directly at me and said, “My nephew has autism, too.”
I just smiled.
He said, “You haven’t said anything, are you upset?”
And I said, “Not at all. Stuff like that doesn’t even phase me anymore.”
Little did he know that in my head, I had kicked that lady in the face with my sweet Krav Maga moves.
He stepped up to order his coffee. He said, “I’ll have a venti dark roast, and then whatever this lady and young man are having.”
I thanked the man. I ordered my drink and then asked Zion what he wanted. So of course he screamed “CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE!” at the top of his lungs. We all laughed, including the cashier.
Zion deserved that little reward. He was better behaved than some adults in that line.
And that was about the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.
The moral of the story is this: sometimes people are jerks. Sometimes people are nice.
Be the nice people.