Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Day I Almost Punched the Walmart Checker

Actual conversation:

Walmart Checker Lady: "Autism? (looking meanly at Jack)
Me: Excuse me?
Lady: Does he have Autism?
Me: No
Lady: Are you sure?
Me: Yes
Lady: How old is he? (even more condescendingly)
Me: 3 (flatly, conveying that just more one thing out of her ugly mouth will result in quite the scene)."

There it is, folks. About the cruelest encounter we've had thus far. I've blogged a lot about what not to say to a preemie parent. About guarding your mouth. About how even thoughtless comments and questions can hurt. But this. This was beyond innocence. This was blatantly being cruel.

After being rendered silent by her mission to wound with words, my mom and I slowly walked away. Then the dissecting began. What made her say such things? And keep asking, asking, asking. Three times, no less. Why Autism? Does she know someone with Autism or think something of it? What could make someone berate an innocent 3-yr-old?

To say I was angry at this exchange, well, you can only imagine. The mama bear in me wanted to do everything in my power to protect my son. But I had failed. Jack heard the whole thing. He heard you, Walmart Checker Lady! I was plain mad at myself for letting it slide and just walking away. Why didn't I say anything? Do something? It's not normally my nature to keep silent. I was disappointed in myself that I didn't immediately go to a manager to report her. I got on our Facebook page later that day and asked (pleaded), someone please tell me how to handle situations like these! Because I know it won't be the only time.

The sad reality is that as Jack gets older, and his differences more apparent, mean people will be primed to pounce. They are always looking to hurt, and when they find someone that they think is an easy target, they will go to town. It's how they operate. 


And it breaks my heart.


Beyond having to worry about Jack's day to day life, his health, his growth, I now have the reality check that this probably won't be an isolated incident. I now have to worry about trying to shield him from the horrible people of this world. The people who give no thought to the ugly words that escape their ugly lips. The people that look down upon those who are different and give no thought of pointing it out.

Let me get one thing straight - I don't care that she chose Autism as her weapon. It would have been just the same if she got Jack's correct diagnosis! She was using that word to wound. As if being called Autistic, would in and of itself, wound me, wound him. No. I am not insulted by my son being called autistic. It was the intent that really bothered me. I wasn't wounded by the word. I was wounded by what it represents.


What really tore at my heart was the reality check it gave. Jack is different and this probably won't be an isolated incident. 


So now what to do? How do I handle these cruel people in the future? Punching them is always an option, but I'd prefer to use my words. What do I even say? Where do I even begin? I already feel like I have a handle on what to say to innocent questions and thoughtless comments. What I'm talking about here is what do I say to the blatantly mean and rude person? I don't want to walk away, silent and shocked. I want to say something, to stand up for my boy. I am asking for advice with one caveat: Please, please do not belittle the situation. All you wonderful peacemakers out there will be chomping at the bit to tell me to put this under the rug, to say that maybe this person was having a bad day. And I get that. But I also believe that wrong is wrong. And this is my son we are talking about here. Put yourself in my shoes for a minute. I need real solutions and real experience to answer this. Would love to hear from those who have been in my place. 

After a lot of thought, I've come to the root of the issue. The Walmart Checker Lady was jealous. Jealous of me, jealous of our happy life. She had made some comments, before going off on Autism and my beautiful boy, about what I was purchasing. She probably doesn't enjoy her job, or her life, for that matter. I, on the other hand, was having a wonderful morning. I was loving the beautiful weather, in my sundress, with my mom by my side and Starbucks in my hand. Jack was in his cute little outfit, sitting in the shopping cart. We were at Walmart to pick up some kid birthday gifts, cards, and yummy food for a BBQ later in the evening. That must have just rubbed her the wrong way, I guess, and she chose (what she thought would be) the most painful thing to say. I get that. I get that she is a sad person.

But being sad, messed up, whatever, doesn't give license to be cruel to a special needs 3-yr-old. It is wrong. And I won't stand for it. I will say something. Who is going to protect Jack, but me?
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33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jessi,
Broke my heart but the best response is (I can be a bit snarky sometimes...but tried to moderate it!), "Why thank you for asking. My son is a miracle and I love him just the way he is. Now, was there anything else I can help you with?"
Usually stops the rude questions in their tracks! I used to get a bunch about the number of my children, if I "knew" what caused them etc etc!
Hugs and Prayers,
Rebecca

Piperlyne said...

I always respond to "questions" like that with another question. Such as "Why do you ask?"
It seems to be an automatic response to think we need to answer a question when it is asked no matter how inappropriate. I no longer believe that. I am so sorry her words hurt you.
Hugs.

Athena said...

As a mother of 2 preemies I can relate to the nasty comments and looks from people. My son was on o2 the first year of his life and I really reached a point where I hated taking him anywhere because of the "looks" people give you. I guess the thing to remember is you are teaching Jack how to handle rude comments by how you handle them. Grace and dignity is the best way I feel. Maybe a "I'm sorry you're having such a bad day that you feel the need to belittle a 3 year old" would have shut her up lol. I do believe you need to have a standard remark for people when they make rude comments because its hard to think of an appropriate response on the fly when you are just so angry they are mistreating your child. If I pass nothing else along to my children I hope I pass empathy because I feel it is a trait seriously lacking in society today!

Rebekah said...

Jessi, this just breaks my heart! I can feel my own mama bear coming out wanting to take on this lady. I can only imagine what your heart is going through. As a friend, I wish I could help take away the mean words that were said and help heal the wound. Jack is an amazingly beautiful boy! Too bad this lady could not see the beauty sitting right in front of her.

Becky P said...

I agree with the comments above. These ladies have said everything I wanted to say.

This has made me think ahead to Bella's future. It is sad that we have to start planning ahead of time what we will do in such situations. I, like you, do not want to be caught of guard and unable to defend my child.

I agree with you, it doesn't matter what makes our child different they are still a person with thoughts and feelings. Dr Suess got it right, "A person is a person, no matter how small"

Colin Raye sang a song that I would like to share the lyrics from.

"I laugh, I love, I hope, I try
I hurt, I need, I fear, I cry
And I know you do the same things, too
So we're really not that different, me and you"

That women needed to be reminded of that fact. We aren't really that different from others, we (our children) have just been given a challenge that is visable to others.

Sorry that this is all over the place. I had a hard time getting into words what my heart was saying.

Love and hugs to you and Jack! Becky

Anonymous said...

Jessi,

Rebecca's comment above will serve you well. I think being an advocate for Jack and having family and friends of ALL ages be an advocate for him, will be invaluable. Those children and families who have known Jack for his three years will also protect him, so you don't feel like you have to do it alone. I also believe that it is paramount that a rude person be told that they are out of line, in some way. I think the reaction might depend on the situation. The answer,no is good enough sometimes, but also letting the perpetrator know that the question/statement was rude/out of line may help him or her step back and think. When I read your post the first time, I thought about what I would say, and my first thought was, "No, Are you stupid?" I am not sure that lashing back is the best way to respond because the person will feel as though he or she has "won" by degrading an innocent victim. Maybe just responding with a "No, and that is a rude question." Less is definitely more in a situation like this. In addition, it will help if family and friends know how to respond to those questions as Jack grows. There may be a point, when he starts school, that you go in and talk to the kids about who Jack is and how students can support him in class and be his friend. The more one understands another's differences (and similarities), the easier it will be to develop a support system around Jack. Ignorance builds walls, understanding breaks them down. There have been so many amazing children that have touched my life and helped me understand the beauty of individuality, and it is because they had unique learning needs. Jack will have challenges, but he will teach people so many incredible things through who he is. He is truly a blessing.
Theresa :)

Mo and Will said...

No solution on what to say to that woman that would actually help. but i would recommend reporting it to the manager - even now. That is inexcusable and I'm sorry you - and Jack - had to experience it.

mo

Kristi DeLeurere said...

I wish I knew what the proper response is too! Last week was our annual church camp. On the last day, the evangelist pointed my son out in front of everyone and said "he's such a special boy" (emphasis on special). Caleb often wanders around the church because he doesn't understand that he should sit down, but most people like to see him and our regular pastor always says that he is so glad to see that Caleb is walking around and exploring since we didn't know if he would ever be able to do that. But this evangelist said at the beginning of the service "Caleb's mom and dad need to come and get him now because he is going to be distracting to everyone." I had to just about bite through my tongue to keep from grabbing my "special" son and telling this guy off. My husband wasn't offended because someone could punch him in the face and he wouldn't be offended. He said that the evangelist is old and we should cut him some slack. I say that we need to educate people about how inappropriate these remarks are. I just don't know how to do it, and it is especially hard to come up with something in the heat of the moment. I look forward to reading the comments on this and hopefully finding a comeback I can use!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm so sorry she was so rude. I'm amazed that you didn't punch her! lol

How about saying something like, "Did you just mean to say that out loud or are you just not thinking?"

Of course, it's true that Jack is watching you also, so teaching him to respond with grace and dignity is important also.

Maybe just tell her she's being very rude, and that you are going to report her to her manager would be enough to make her think again.

I just found your blog and I'm loving your story. Jack is beautiful.

Joanna B said...

I hate this, it just makes me sick to my stomach when people ask rude questions and make rude comments...I just want to shake them!
The other day someone we don't know told me my daughter would be a lot prettier if we got her ear fixed (she is missing the outer part of one ear. The problem is that she just got a hearing aid in her other ear, so she heard every word! I just wanted to cry, but I said she is beautiful just the way she is, and then I told the man he was rude, and took my daughter's hand and walked away.
So sorry this happened to you guys!

Cheyenne said...

Although I haven't had any experience in this department, I was raised by the most compassionate woman alive and she some how gave birth to 3 crazy tempered children... Of all of the things that my mother has taught me, the most valued lessons are compassion and not only how to control my temper, but also how to turn a situation completely around on someone, particularly when they are deliberately trying to hurt you.

"Do you need/would you like a hug?" ... simple as that and absolutely sincere... Like you said, this woman probably doesn't like her life and/or is having a terrible day, she probably needs a hug, & 9 times out of 10 she isn't going to be wanting one or to hear that from someone she just deliberately insulted.

When someone is talking down to me or insulting me I use my calm-est and most sincere voice and simply say "You are obviously having a really bad day & are needing a hug, would you like one?" And trust me I get a lot of not only nasty but also many weird looks, but I just showed them 3 things

1) I am aware that you are trying to be mean & I am not going to let you continue doing it.
2) I absolutely do not care how you feel about me and what you say isn't going to hurt me (although it usually always does, I don't want them knowing that!)
3) I am 100% kinder than you are and I also have enough compassion to be willing to give you, a total ass, a hug JUST to hopefully make you feel better.

Now of course I don't really want to give them a hug, usually I want to punch them in the face, but when you are kind to someone like that it truly makes you feel like you have the trump card! I am not say this particular saying is what you should use & maybe this actually wouldn't work for you, but the whole point of it is the importance of what you are teaching your wonderful son.

My mom was a wonderful mother, much like yourself, and she used this to teach us to stick up for ourselves, to be aware of others, to feel compassion for them, & to not let our temper get the best of us, because we are wonderful people and we can share that and we can also teach our children the same!

Michelle said...

UGH! I hate it when that happens! I probably would have had something like "No, and yourself?" or I might have just told them I was in a hurry to leave and ask the to please speed it up, in similar instances I do try to process with my son: "That lady was mean to say that wasn't she? If you ask someone questions like that it can really hurt their feelings." I do try to process things like that, I want my son to have an awareness that he has the power to hurt with words just as much as others have that power over him. I often find that looking someone like that directly in the eye will get them to back down a bit, and you're right, Walmart is not happy place for most of their employees, they are in the news a lot for being sued for all kinds of employee rights violations (nobody that works there really looks like the really are happy with their job to me), but it's still no excuse. I wouldn't necessarily report her, but I would call and give management some feedback, if I was a manager, I would want to know if one of my employees was treating a customer like that and take steps to prevent future occurences.

Some people are like that, which is hard, we can't change it. Personally, I think the key is giving my son a strong support at home with family and friends that love and accept him no matter what, so when he gets beat up in the world he can come home and feel loved, safe, and accepted, that I think matters more than anything anybody can say.

It happens with typical kiddos too, for some reason people just feel the need to ask unsolicited questions or advice, or make comments I think we just feel it more : )

Anonymous said...

I think your son is beautiful-I have no idea why that woman said what she did. Even if a child is noticeably autistic, that would have been an incredibly inappropriate question. But I do wonder how you would respond if another child had asked a question, though I'm guessing it would have been directed towards their parent, not to you. Not necessarily the question that you were asked, but if a medical difference was noticeable (I'm not sure this is at all the case with Jack), how would you want that parent to respond to their child? I ask because my daughter is of an age where she notices things and isn't very discreet in asking me about them. I want to respond in a way that acknowledges difference, but doesn't do so in a negative way. I also want her to grow up to be a sensitive and empathetic person, not someone like the Walmart checker. Any advice?

Heather said...

Not to be rude or offensive because I'm in full support of anyone and everyone who can possibly hold gainfully employment but... after all... you weren't crossing paths with a brain surgeon or anything. I'd probably say something to the manager if for no other reason than to help this person amend their customer service skills.

Lori said...

I guess I'm not as nice as some of the other commenters, but I really think you should have challenged the checker by turning the question back on her - in the nicest and sweetest voice you could possible summon: "No, Jack is not autistic - not at all. But I'm curious - why on earth would you ask such a personal and insensitive question? Perhaps your manager would be interested to know how you interact with your customers. Please call him or her now." And stand there until the manager came to the station - at which point you would gently ask if you could visit with him/her privately. I guarantee you would have made a huge impact on that checker's day! More importantly - she NEVER would ask a question like that again!!!

Laura said...

We have recently begun to have similar experiences with our son, who has Childhood Apraxia of Speech. He is also big for his age (3.5 years) so people think he should say more than he does (and he should but he can't). Some friends actually hand out small business cards that explain their child's dx and give a website to go to for more information. I imagine that works for some but may not work for the rude WM cashiers in our lives. Simply saying, "He was premature" might suffice. Then again, you do not have to say anything at all. It is your right as a mother to chose what you say and how much. Oftentimes I am sick of explaining Apraxia and hearing the "Eisnstien didn't talk until he was 3!" or some such crap. I just say say, "he's fine" or "this is the way he is" and leave it at that. If they want to think I am in denial, fine. The people who are in our lives and care for him/us at the ones who need to know the nitty gritty.
And I agree with others, you need to report her to the manager!

Kelli Johanesen said...

The first response I read was this,
"Broke my heart but the best response is (I can be a bit snarky sometimes...but tried to moderate it!), 'Why thank you for asking. My son is a miracle and I love him just the way he is. Now, was there anything else I can help you with?'"

I agree with that. Not only will Jack hear the rude person, but he will also hear your response. Your response will help him understand how to deal with people. Sadly there are people around who look at those with disabilities as "less than". They are absolutely and completely wrong! We have so much to learn from everyone, especially those who have so much to overcome. Jack teaches everyone around him by his "never say die" attitude. I do think that a loving, but firm response of "he is wonderful and perfect just the way he is" is sufficient for those situations. As Jack gets older, you can find ways to talk with him about how he feels.

Sharayah said...

This post and Rebekah's comment about the beauty right in front of her made me think of some of lyrics in one of my all time favorite songs:

"You're addicted to your sadness, because it creates the touch of madness, the kind you like inside your veins...

And the lexicon of death is all you know. You feel suffocated in the falling snow, because you miss the beauty there, in the quiet holy air, and start looking for a desert you can roam. Your eyes to closed to see the secret ministry of the frost upon the windows of your home"

Jack is beautiful. Like the frost or a flake snow, God has created us all so uniquely beautiful. Sorry she missed the beauty, and tried to take you to her desert with her. Maybe get a cup of coffee, give the song a listen, and say a prayer that she has a beautiful day? Maybe she is just aching for one but doesn't know how to have it.

http://grooveshark.com/#!/search/song?q=waterdeep+hardened

Anonymous said...

Its true that its sad that this world harbours so many people who are either too stupid, insensitive or just plain mean. But you said it when you mentioned that its not going to be the last (and I'm sorry you had to deal with it and that you and Jack and anyone else in this world will have to shoulder this burden).

This is obviously the start of a you starting to prepare Jack for life being different. You have the power to teach him so many things. To be angry at people like this, to be rude, to be ashamed or to be sympathetic to those who are ignorant. Its not the ideal way (yes, as a mom I too would have preferred to punch her) but maybe for Jack and all the obstacles he's going to face moving forward its time to be his hero as I'm sure he is to you.

Maybe a reply (with absolute pride in your voice) like "This little guy has faced and overcome obstacles that someone such as yourself couldn't even imagine. Rather than addressing these challenges with scorn you should strive to be more like him...someone who pushes his boundaries and doesn't work at walmart" (ok that last part was a jab meant to offend but I hope you know what I mean).

Of course its always easier to offer advice when your not on the inside looking in but as much as it breaks my heart to wonder how that comment made Jack feel, it also breaks my heart to think of him getting older and thnking that comments such as that may make you feel ashamed (because your reaction to them is negative suggesting that person made you ashamed (not saying it is but what his perception may be).

Show that boy you are proud of everything he is even in those moments when you just want to fight for him.

Renee
(Mom to 2 angel micro-preemies)

Laura said...

First, you seem to be an amazing mommy and Jack is an extraordinary little man. Just wanted to say good luck. I've run into this stuff some with my son's conditions, but as he's still an infant he can't understand yet (I hope!). All our prayers.

Allison said...

I found your blog through Mo's and love it! Such a hard, horrible thing to listen to. I agree with the others, report to the manager. As a mom of triplets, I hear all kinds of inappropriate questions but nothing like that. So far beyond the line.

Anonymous said...

I think the best way to insulate Jack is to continue to remind him how special he is. I know this is completely different, but it somehow strikes me as similar. I was adopted as an infant, and instead of trying to hide it, my parents celebrated it. I was God's gift, they chose me, and I was special because of it. I was also different. It led to interesting conversations with eye doctors, grocery store checkers, teachers and my peers, but everytime someone mentioned it, or said "so you don't live with your REAL parents?" I was armed with their love. I know that you've already done that for your son. Just keep reminding him and yourself.

Emily Real said...

I don't have wise words to share about what you should have responded (thank God you have great responses here), but what you said about being an advocate for your child is right on. You and Jon know it better than anyone else already because of how you already have advocated for Jack, but let that Mama Bear come out.

Theresa is right, though, in the same breath. You don't have to protect Jack all alone. You have a community who loves Jack and you and Jon...we will support you and protect Jack as best we can. And someone else said it too, but Jack will hear the completely inappropriate, and he will also hear and see your response. He saw your grace this time, and he will watch you express your love for him in these situations.

I pray you have just the right words to handle every situation. Love you guys.

Ashley said...

Hi Jessi: You already know that I don't take rude for an answer... We still get questions about why Bea is so small; in particular "How old is your baby, like 9 or 10 months?" Me: No, she's two and a half Them: "Why is she so tiny? Is she sick?" My response is usually, "Why are you so stupid?" and then I walk off. I will never, ever ever apologize for sticking up for my sweet girl and you shouldn't have to either. Mama Bears don't have anything on Mamas to Preemies!

Anonymous said...

My little preemie Isabela is fed thru a gtube due to severe reflux which developed into a full bliwn feeding adversion. We are in process of weaning..Once I fed her in public and I had a lady approach and ask "what is wrong w/her?" right away my hairs went up. I gave my little rehearsed response about her and she followed it up with "wow, she looks so normal"..!! i was speechless! I think I just laughed or something and said "yeah". should have said "thank you sir, may I have another". people just dont think. this lady and your walmart lady probably wanted to "bond" with you in some weird way and maybe had a family member or aqaintance w/autism and ready to tell you their life story. obviously she is not a developmental interventionist or she wouldnt be at walmart, not that there's anything wrong w/that job, just saying. Keep on keeping on and just think of yourself as a "Special mommy" to a "Special boy" and educate others with your grace and dignity :) jessica k

Anonymous said...

Jack is going to learn from you how to view the world and himself, and the world is going follow your lead.
Sometime when I'm in a situation I have a hard time distinguish what the person said or is asking from the way I personally feel about the issue.
I try to remember that even though my children hear everything and I have to take the lead. I answer truthfully and with glowing pride! (A mom of a child with autism might be thankful that more
awareness is coming. Questions can be off putting but it opens up the door to a conversation to further educate! You should hear my best friend with her autistic, non-verbal 5 year old, dang that woman makes me proud). Breath, Count to ten(sometimes I have to get to 100) but try answering nicely & politely (tears are all fine in my eyes but tone is key) I usually start with nope he doesn't but he's incredible and follow with as much of a quick basic outline you feel comfortable with, I usually end with a postive Q - can you believe a child could ever be this strong? Every situation is an opportunity teach Jack he has nothing to be ashamed of and teach
those around you how great he is!

Anonymous said...

My soon to be three year old son is Autistic. My husband and I along with our three children live in rural Kentucky. We have been trying to introduce Andrew to activities with other children outside of the home and we've had our share of snide comments from the ignorant and intolerant population that is proving to be common to this area. We started taking Andrew to gymnastics classes and he seems to enjoy them but prefers to explore and do the activities at his own pace. He is prone to melt downs, as is any 2 year old but he can really put on a good show when he gets frustrated from not being able to communicate what he wants. This past week, a gym mom brought her mothe with her to the class to watch her grandchild. This lady had a comment about everybody. Towards the end of class, Andrew was tired and hot and so he threw himself in the floor and cried. Her statement was "looks like somebody needs to being a fly swat wih them next week, maybe they can make their kid mind." and before I could even stop to think about the room of parents and children, my response was, "my child is disabled,ate someone should hit you with a fly swat." I know it probably wasn't the best way to handle it, but I love my child and will do whatever it takes to protect him from all bullies.

Brittany Davidson said...

First off let me say how adorable Jack is! I found your site and have not been able to read through all of your posts yet and I have started at the beginning (however having a newborn in the house is slowing down my reading a bit) I am constantly amazed by people and how rude they can be! I am with you, why did she ask that? What does it matter? But by you not responding it just shows Jack how strong you are! There will always be people around to judge and try to hurt you but those people do not matter. The people who love you and raise you up are all that you should concern yourself with. All we can do is pray for those who are not understanding and hope that they will see that a child is a blessing no matter the case! My prayers and heart go out to you and your family! Stay strong and don't let anyone bring you down!

Leslie, Mn said...

Dear Jessi- Your son Jack is an amazing miracle! Our son Chris was born at 31 weeks so I do (just a little) understand some of what you are going through. He scooted on his butt until right before he turned 2 and this caused questions and comments that REALLY ticked me off! I am so sorry that you have experienced these and worse. I love your blog, you are an awesome writer and your family seems wonderful. Our little guys are lucky to be here and we are so blessed to know them. Thanks for writing this blog! Love, Leslie hennigarleslie5@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

I HAVE WALKED IN YOUR SHOES NOW FOR 30YEARS,AND THE REMARKS WILL NOT GET EASIER,BUT WE HAVE TAUGHT OUR GORGEOUS JESSICA TO LOVE & LAUGH AT WHAT PEOPLE SAY,AND YES WE HAVE HEARD THEM ALL...BUT ONE DAY IN PARTICULAR WHEN JESSIE WAS 3 OUR DOORBELL RANG AND MY JESS LOVED WHEN COMPANY VISITED AND I REMEMBER OPENING THE DOOR TO 2 WOMEN STANDING THERE AND MY BEAUTIFUL JESS COMMANDO CRAWLING HER WAY TO THE DOOR WITH A GREAT BIG SMILE ON HER FACE TO SEE WHO WAS THERE AND THIS WOMEN LOOKED DOWN AT HER AND SAID "OH IS SHE RETARDED" I LOOKED UP AT HER AND SAID 'NO ARE YOU' AND SLAMED THE DOOR IN HER FACE!!!! I LOOKED DOWN AT JESS AND SHE DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THE WORD,BUT SHE UNDERSTOOD THE HURT AND ANGER ON MY FACE AS A TEAR FELL FROM MY FACE AND I BENT DOWN AND PICKED HER UP AND HELD HER TO ME AND CRIED AND SHE TOOK MY FACE IN HER HANDS AND MY WISE LITTLE GIRL SAID YOU ARE THE BEST MOMMY AND KISSED MY TEARS AWAY!!! EVERYDAY MY JESS TEACHES ME LOVE AND TO LAUGH AT ALL THAT LIFE HAS TAUGHT US SINCE THAT DAY JULY 20 1982!!! BRAVO TO YOU & JACK AND YOUR LOVING FAMILY <3 STAY STRONG AND JUST LOVE & LAUGH AND YES CRY TOO...BUT I KNOW THAT YOU AND I WOULDN'T CHANGE A THING IN OUR LIVES,BECAUSE WHAT WONDERFUL ,FANTASTIC GIFTS WE HAVE ... OUR CHILDREN :0) XOXOX

Anonymous said...

I too am the mom of a preemie (35 week twins) who was at the receiving end of rude comments. My son has a developmental delay and still wasn't talking much last summer at age 3, especially around strangers. While he can assert himself plenty with his sister, when he's in a group of strangers he's very quiet and keeps to himself. I had joined a new gym and was taking my b/g twins to the daycare there while I took group classes. Many times I would pick him up and could tell he wasn't having a great time or had been crying. I would ask about if something happened to him and this one particular woman would always say he was just sitting watching tv. I would point out that he looked like he'd been crying and she refuted any knowledge about that or why. One time this same woman told me that he looks like the kid Sid from Toy Story...At first I was just like, "What? Who?" and then I realized who she meant: the mean kid who terrorizes the toys. My son is gorgeous to me. He has light brown hair, blue eyes and the sweetest smile. With it being summer he had a buzz cut. I thought momentarily, stunned, about how to respond. I said something like, "Oh the mean kid? Hmm, I don't think so." When I got home I looked the character up and was stunned to think that she was comparing my shy, quiet, sweet love to this character simply because he has a brown buzz cut and blue eyes. Needless to say I haven't been back there with my kids much since and have been wasting my $ ever since on a stupid gym membership. And this has haunted me to an extent. Analyzing why I didn't have more to say or go back and give her a piece of my mind. To me, she was clearly saying it to be hurtful because in her eyes he's different than the other kids. It was so mean spirited. My membership is up next month and I think I am going to tell them that she's a part of why I never wanted to come back, especially with my kids. Not that they care because they got my money anyhow...

Anonymous said...

So, I don't have a preemie, but am an aunt to a boy with fairly severe Autism. When he's been in my charge and I've gotten questions like that I'm tempted to really go off. There isn't a need to answer, but clearly there is a desire. I've actually been asked "What's wrong with him?" So my answer when the intent of the other person is to be hurtful or condescending (and you can almost always tell harmless curiosity from nastiness) is "He's Autistic and he's 6...what's your excuse for such rude & insenstive behavior?!" It satisfies my need to explain but also lets them know what they've said is not tolerable. If that doesn't elicit an apology from a random person, they are soulless monsters beyond repair; move on. But in a scenario like yours, I add "what's your name? I need you to call the manager-on-duty over." I proceed to rehash and point out disparaging comments are a violation of the spirit of the Americans with Disabilities Act and they could get sued which has always garnered an apology, and hopefully more responsible and educated employees. Works every time.

Ms.Outback said...

Thank you for writing about this. Someone made some insensitive comments about my four year old son who has some delays in front of his SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher) as well as him today. He was playing with his friends. And, I guess this woman, another child's grandmother, decided it was open season on preschoolers with disabilities...?

She reported the incident to me and that he heard...
every.
last.
word.

He's four and feeling the shame she should have felt herself.

As my mommy heart is filled with blinding rage I came here. To reread this and remind me that insensitive, cruel and unfortunately vocal people are everywhere.