Thursday, September 20, 2007

Just Call Me Advocate Mom

Warning. This is not going to be pretty. In fact, by the end of this rant, you'll probably be shaking your head wondering how people can be so ugly. I'm so livid right now that I'm shaking, nauseated, and ready to just start bawling. First, a little background. Keep in mind that this entire time, it was me alone with the three girls. A 7 yr old, a 4 1/2 yrs old, and a 2 1/2 yr old. Grace (4 1/2, with Asperger Disorder) hasn't been feeling well since yesterday, with a crabby tummy, so she's been a bit more sensitive and touchy.

Juliana had her 7th year physical exam today after she got home from school. Since we missed the appointment yesterday (or was it the day before?) we were squeezed in during a busy time and ended up being at the office for a good 45 minutes or so.

By the end of the visit, Grace was getting a bit anxious and her skin was becoming overly sensitive, so she needed to take her shoes off. We walked to the car with her barefoot. Very carefully, but barefoot. Not really a problem. She wouldn't put the shoes back on, even though we had to stop at Walmart for Pull-Ups (Anneliese is starting to potty train!) and a birthday gift for a friend's child.

Since Grace couldn't put the shoes on with her anxiety and sensitivity (thank you, Asperger's) I made sure she rode in the basket part of the shopping cart. Of course, Grace wanted to walk in the store. For obvious reasons, I simply couldn't allow that, and we REALLY needed to get this done. She cried and "tantrumed" virtually the entire time in the store. I tried distracting her, soothing her, talking to her, but not making a huge deal out of it. If you over-soothe some Aspie kids, it can backfire and make the situation worse. Sometimes, you just have to let the episodes run their course. This was oen of those times. I had to stand firm and disallow her from climbing out of that cart without shoes, and she knew it, and no matter what, I know that even if I'd allowed her to walk, something else would've kept triggering the crying/screaming/screeching and generally inhuman sounds coming from her.

She was very clearly upset, and I was very clearly trying my best to get through the trip. I got some angry/annoyed looks but mostly sympathetic looks. Especially from people around my age that had children with them. You could tell the people who had children of their own just by the expressions on their faces.

So I'm in the shampoo isle, halfway down, right in the middle, trying to grab shampoo & conditioner for the girls on the way to grab wrapping paper for the gift. Grace is winding down from one of her "rounds" of upset, and trying to explain to me why she was upset. I was so proud of her for using her words to explain herself to me, even through her tears. Of course, by explaining it to me, she relived it and triggered a new round of crying, which I was expecting. I noticed a woman at the end of the isle. She was rather heavy set, probably upwards of 350 pounds. She was short, with a pug face, short spiky orange-blond hair, and beady eyes. From here on out, I will call her Behemoth Bitch.

Grace briefly calmed down, then again explained to me why she was upset, starting a new round of upset. By this point, I was tired and embarrassed and stressed and just wanted to get through the rest of the trip as quickly as I could. I'm very aware that some people don't like children, let alone noisy, crying children.

That's when Behemoth Bitch opened her mouth. "Oh little GIRL, we all know you're upset! Enough already! You haven't stopped once since you got here! We can all hear you, just stop it already! I could hear you from across the store! You need to stop it and JUST SHUT UP! Just STOP IT!"

That's all I could hear through the haze of embarrassment, anger, shock, and red that washed over me. She said more, but it was like a flock of seagulls in my ears, muffled and whiny and mean. I interrupted her and said "Excuse me? What did you say to my child? Did you actually just say that? Did you stop to think there might be something wrong with her? She has Asperger's Disorder, you cold bitch!" And she kept on going, with an "I don't care" thrown in for good measure. I'm sure I was standing there with my mouth hanging open, and I was keenly aware that other shoppers were standing still watching the whole thing. I could hear a woman (who was about my age) on the opposite end of the isle say "Oh my God! What a bitch!" with a shocked look on her face. It was a bit humbling to realize that other people were as shocked as I was, and I could see a few people bee-line to her with angry looks on their faces. She slithered away with a smug look on her face, but when she realized people were going to defend my daughter, she had the decency to walk faster and shut her mouth. Later, the nice woman came up to me and rubbed my shoulder, putting her arm around me, telling me "Just ignore people like that. You didn't deserve that." I thanked her.

Because I had the children with me, I didn't want to continue to make a scene in the store. I just boogied on over to the gift wrap section and was thankful more than you can know that Grace was distracted by all of the pretty colors and patterns of the cards and wrap. She still had her little hiccups of crying, and was alternating between being upset about not getting a dozen helium balloons, a handful of birthday cards for herself, and wanting to walk in the store barefoot. I distracted her long enough to help me choose a card and gift wrap, and knew she felt important with making the decision with me. I also let her pick out her own $0.66 pink gift bag, that she's still holding and playing with 1 1/2 hours later.

We got through the line without much more drama, and the cashier knew I was upset. She said "Oh, honey, are you the upset little girl? You made your voice all froggy! You know, we don't cry when we're in line. That's a good girl. It's nice to see you smile!"

On the way out, I saw Behemoth Bitch going through her own check-out. I could tell she knew I was there, because she kept lagging behind, even when I stopped and let the girls toss some pennies into the donation box near the exit. I got the girls to the car, and she was serupticiously watching me get them all buckled in without ANY drama. Grace was relieved to be in her safe, snug car seat, holding her pink paper gift bag. She gave me a hug, almost as if to say "I'm sorry Mommy, I just couldn't handle it!" I loaded up the car and got in. Only when I pulled out of my parking space did Behemoth Bitch feel safe to go to her own car.

I pulled around the parking lot and as she was loading up her own car (thank God she had a ton of shit to take out of her cart ha ha ha) I parked right behind her car, blocking her into her parking space. I rolled up the windows, turned off the car, and held onto my keys. I got out of the car and closed the door so that the girls wouldn't hear me if things got uglier than they already had.

With icy steel in my voice, I gathered up my courage and said as loudly as I could: "Excuse me, ma'am, but I need to tell you exactly what I think of you. I was shocked that you felt it was OK to speak to my daughter like that. You upset me and made me VERY angry." She tried ignoring me, and wouldn't look at me, and I said "No, you're going to listen. What made you think it would ever be OK to talk to a little girl like that? The next time you decide to yell at a clearly upset little girl, you'd better consider the fact that the child's mother may say something to you AND the fact that there might be something wrong with her. My daughter has AUTISM. It's called Asperger's Disorder. Think about that next time you decide to yell at a small child."

She stood stock still, like she was relieved that I wasn't going to deck her or pull a knife on her. In fact, the whole time, I made sure to stand about 4 feet away from her and a couple of feet away from her car. I made sure that I was visible to witnesses as not being close to her, only close enough to raise my voice to her. I kept my hands together, holding the keys. I wanted no misunderstanding that I didn't intend to physically hurt her, just advocate for my daughter.


"LOOK! I'm SORRY. All right?"

I know I looked shocked, because I fully expected her to start bitching me out and shouting back at me. I paused, calmed myself as much as I could and said "Thank you." Then I got in the car and drove home. Shaking the whole way, feeling like yonking, and teetering between wanting to cry and wanting to punch someone.

When I got home I told Manny what happened, and his face hardened into an angry mask. All he could say was "She's lucky I wasn't there, that bitch! Why were you so nice to her?" And then "Oh honey, let it go. It's over now, and she's lucky that I wasn't there to say a few choice words to her. You handled it fine." He could tell I was reliving it over and over again, the same way Grace relives her triggers. I couldn't calm down until I called my best friend and told her what happened.

I'm still shaking, but feeling better. And I'm proud of myself for standing my ground and saying something to that Behemoth Bitch.



Dreen Pie said...

Oh My god, first of all, what a rude and insensitive bitch she is to even DARE say something. She will likely never have the pleasure of having children, not that I think she would make a fitting mother. Secondly-GO YOU!!!!!!! You have way more courage and candor than I could ever have in a situation like that, how amazing you must feel! I would have loved to hear this!

Leah Kerchner said...

Good for you! It can be really hard to stand up to people like that. Obviously she was a crazy person, but sometimes in the middle of a "Walmart Meltdown" as I like to call them, you are already so embarassed, you'd rather just slink away, run out to your car and get home as fast as you can. But telling her off was the right thing to do. I don't know what makes people think they have the right to say anything about our kids. My daughter Lilly is ten and nonverbal. I would think that at her age, it would be obvious while she is screaming nonsense and making turkey noises that this is not your average child, but people still treat us like we just have a spoiled brat who needs a spanking. So again, Good For You!! We have to stand up for our kids, who else will?

Anonymous said...

I'm proud of you too hon. The first incident I had with a woman concerning Cayla...let's just say I feel you. You handled it beautifuly, and again, I'm really proud of you for standing up for your little girl.

Jill said...

Woo hoo! I'm so proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Good for you, Mama! Where do some people get the nerve to even think of correcting someone else's child? You handled it well. I probably would have had to punch the bitch!