This afternoon I needed to mail some packages, so Carter and I stopped at the post office after I picked him up from school. I saw the line of over 20 people and groaned, but what could I do? Those packages were full of eBay auction items and they had to be mailed. We got in that line and Carter was busy acting like Carter: windmilling his arms, making his noises, spinning. His usual dervish thing. This, I am very used to, and I’m also so accustomed to the exasperated sighs, dirty looks, and whispered comments that I’ve become adept at (mostly) ignoring them. Besides, I don’t have time to pay attention to people’s reactions; I’m too busy protecting those poor, put-upon people. I don’t even try to control Carter’s behavior because I know from hard experience that it won’t work. What I can do, though, is make sure that he has the space to move in the ways that he needs to without punching anyone in the knees or knocking down racks, displays, and small children.
And then the man in line behind me spoke up. “You kid is out of control.”
“Yeah, well, there’s a neurological cause for that behavior,” I said, and I could feel my blood pressure rise just a wee bit.
Louder now, he said, “Even if he’s a brain-damaged brat, he’s still a brat.”
Pause for a breath. Or six…
By that time, almost everyone in line was watching the man and me, including Carter. Believe me when I tell you that it took every bit of will in every cell of my body, plus the presence of my emotionally fragile boy, to respond with anything other than physical violence. I hissed through my teeth, “You have no idea what you are talking about.” I turned to face the front of the line and pulled Carter close to me. We finished our business and didn’t hear another word from the man.
There is no shortage of judgment for modern parents, any parents. But for us parents of behaviorally and emotionally different children? Watch out, back up, and get out of the way because it’s coming, and sometimes it comes big. Oh, my lovely friends whose kids have behavioral and/or emotional differences, can I hear an amen?!?