6 Rude Things: My Version

middle276 Rude Things Moms Let Their Kids Do (Tsk Tsk) | The Stir.

Yes, I read this one. And I got pissed. I’m not sure why, but I did. Maybe it is because I have had so many encounters with unbelievably rude “adults” that it gets hard to swallow the critique of children. Yes, it is important to teach our children manners. And common courtesy. And how to behave in social situations. It is important that we not allow the carelessness of out children to infringe on the rights of others. But adults are not above these same guidelines. And before we can lecture our kids on manners, we have to set proper examples. So here is my list of some of the rude things adults do that completely get under my skin. And since they limited their list to 6, I will, also.Because I am a polite bitch.

6. When you see a mom bustling through a parking lot in rain/ snow/ sleet, don’t jump on the gas pedal to avoid waiting for her to cross the damned street. Just because you haven’t procreated, or you have and are fortunate enough to not have to go to the store with your children does not excuse you from common decency. Think to when your kids were small. All you needed was some milk, eggs, and maybe some random ingredient for dinner. You had to wrangle a squirming toddler into outerwear, wait behind him as he tried to climb into his carseat, because, hey, he can do it himself. Now it is cold, it is wet, and you are trying to hurry, carrying the 30-lb. mini-me through the massive parking lot, you get to the crosswalk and are about to make it into the store when a string of traffic passes while you helplessly watch rude assholes who can’t pause for 5 seconds to let you cross. And did I mention their cars are warm and dry while you and the little one look on in the freezing rain? People, if you are in so much of a hurry that you cannot do one this one thing, you have no time to go to a big-box grocery store, anyways. (The principles of this one can be extrapolated to apply to lot stalking as well. You see me with a toddler and another child. It is cold. You also see the cart full of groceries. There is a vacant spot 2 spots down from mine. Don’t sit and look annoyed/ honk/ etc. while I try to convince the oldest to get in an buckle up, strap the baby into his carseat, load all of the groceries, and put the cart away. It takes time. Don’t rush me. I’m sure when you had children back in 1952, all you had to do was toss them into the floorboard and speed away. We have better standards now.)

5. Treat my child’s cheeks as if they are magnetized, and that magnet, for some unknown reason, seems to get stronger during Godforsaken flu season. This one is simple. Quit touching my child. Yep, he has chubby cheeks. Yep, they’re friggin’ adorable. I made them. I know. He gets them from me. He also has the cutest little button nose. But after using enough public restrooms in my day, I have seen enough nasty assholes completely bypass the sink and head straight out of the door without washing their hands. And I have learned that these assholes  are generic in appearance, and thus cannot be identified among the rest of the population. And even if you are not one of them, how do I know that you are not harboring influenza/ MRSA/ syphilis/ scabies or any other nasty shit I find in my line of work? And then you touch my child’s face? Or his little hands, which he does not realize have he capacity to transmit the damned plague and thus puts them in his mouth without thinking? Shame on you.

4. Drawing assumptions. You know what they say, right? Assuming makes and ASS out of U and…. Scratch that. The saying is wrong. It just makes you an asshole.  What is it about seeing a mom/ dad/ both with young children that brings out this tendency in people? And we assume a lot of things. I have had people assume a lot. I have heard whisperings about morality .John and I do not wear wedding bands–John’s ended up down a bathtub drain many years ago and mine fell off of my finger and wasn’t found until John stomped on it with a steel-toed work boot many-many-many years ago. And, well, we just never replaced them. We keep meaning to and then forgetting. I assure you we are very-much married–12 years this very week thankyouverymuch. And even if we were not, it is none of your business. There are many types of families out there, and who are you to assume you have the right to judge any of them? Maybe I am “shacking up with my Baby Daddy”. What of it? This is in the same category as many other rude assumptions, like that I want your parenting advice. Or that, simply because my child is having a bad moment, I do not teach them manners.

3. If you visit a kid-friendly establishment, quit going with the expectation that there will not be children present. Kids will be there. And no matter how well-behaved, kids are growing, learning beings. In order to teach a child manners in a dining or other public establishment, there has to be some practice involved. Kids can get squirmy, fidgety, over-excited, over-stimulated. They are, by nature, impatient and self-centered. When they are hungry, they want food now. When they are stuck in line to pay for the jeans their mom or dad is buying them because they outgrew their old ones, they don’t generally like to wait in line. They never want to wait their turn, even if they have been thoroughly trained that this is something they must do. Expect that. They are children, for shit’s sake. You, on the other hand, are an adult. We expect that you have learned patience, as you have had ample opportunity. And we parents can teach and teach our children, but sometimes those lessons are forgotten, despite our best efforts. Are we never supposed to leave our homes because you might decide to go to one of the places we go? So just stop. Stop getting huffy when a kid whines for a candy bar in the grocery checkout line, when a toddler gets frustrated because he is hungry and has waited too long for his food. Stop acting like my children are infringing on your space at a kid-friendly business when, in all truthfulness, you are treading on our turf there. Or better yet, when one is at Chuck E. Cheese, expect for kids to get rowdy and excited, and just stop acting offended by playing children. You are at Chuck E. Cheese, for crying out loud. You are being ridiculous. In return for the improvement of this behavior, I will continue working on my children’s manners. I will request to not sit in the booth next to you so they can eat their kids’ meals freely while you enjoy your seniors’ country-fried steak or whatever other old-people shit you order. And I will not be so rude as to infringe on the swanky restaurant you visit for date night with unruly children. I will stick to places that give out crayons with the kiddie menu because I am civilized. (PS. Remember this experience on the day Obama passed through here, blocking roads for hours?)

2. STFU. If you don’t know what this means, Google the shit. My kids–and yes, even the little one–have issues. And this does not mean I do not discipline them. It doesn’t mean I don’t parent. I have to continue with my teachings that “no” really means no. That they cannot get everything they want. he end result is some tears and maybe some meltdowns. What I do not need from you is for you to turn around in line and instigate by making sure the kid knows that you would buy them the sugary candy if you were me. Or for you to turn around and tell me that you would beat them into submission. or that I need to control my kid. I prefer to raise a child who does not need to be “controlled” but rather has the self-direction, self-control, and logic to understand that behaviors have consequences, that we must earn what we want to receive. It is difficult to teach them this. It is especially difficult with mine, with one having a probable ASD and the other being largely non-verbal until recent months. But they still have to grow up in this world, to learn to function. And so I have to say no to some things. Regardless of their reaction, you have no right to put in your unsolicited comments to me or to them. It is none of your business. And if you would hurry up and quit the long-winded conversation with the blue-haired cashier, we can pay for our shit and get the hell out of there where not a soul will witness their meltdowns.

1. Quit acting as if my kid is the only child you have ever seen misbehave. And sometimes they aren’t even really misbehaving. We are learning more and more that some of Evan’s behaviors that could have been construed as being bad or bratty or manipulative really couldn’t be helped all along. Not all of them, but some of them. So you do not need to tsk-tsk. You do not need to gawk. There is no need to give dirty looks. And even though Evan looks like a typical kid his age, he isn’t so quit fucking staring at him. He is remarkable. He is probably smarter than you. But he has different reactions to some things. We’re working on it. Always working on it. What about you? And while we’re at it, even if he were to be completely like his peers, sometimes the best kids with the best parents can misbehave. And for you morons to turn around and stare like you have never seen this happen, to treat us like we are in some sort of freakshow, is completely unacceptable behavior from an adult. Because, in all honesty, your tendency to react like that makes me want to give in. Buy him the toy/ candy bar/ toilet scrubber he is so irrational about just to get you to leave us alone. Because the only other options are to deal with your lack of manners or never take him out of the house. I refuse to keep my kid like a caged animal because you have some sort of problem. And the same goes for the baby. He went through this shrieking phase. It was awful. And you people would hear me and see me trying to get him to be quiet. Telling him not to scream. Yet you would still stare and give largely the same reactions you would give to Evan and one of his meltdowns. And Zachy is obviously a little guy.

Maybe, instead of preaching on the bad manners of kids and the seemingly-awful parents who fail to teach them manners, maybe we all need to step back and consider others for a minute. Because ALL of these situations I have mentioned have happened to us. Some happen more than others. Some happen all of the friggin’ time. I am not perfect. My children are not perfect. But we are good people. We know right from wrong. My kid, who might have a mini-meltdown over a candy bar he didn’t get may turn around and gladly give his most prized possessions to a needy child or weep over a homeless man on the street. Later, on the same day as the meltdown, he may be so polite and well-behaved that strangers come up to us and comment on the polite young man we are raising. And the bottom line is that he is a child. He is being taught more and more everyday. Some lessons stick right away, while some take repetitive drilling. Some seem to stick and then he adopts the bad habits of his classmates, putting us back to Square One. He is, after all is said and done, still forming. You, on the other hand, are running out of time to let your asshole-ness wear off. And if you are so apt to help me parent, what with your assumptions, unsolicited advice, and comments, perhaps you could be more efficient by stopping the rudeness and serving instead as another example of good manners for these kids.

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On Laughter and Sadness, Relief and Distress

Autism_Awareness_by_thisfleshavenged

They called. After being on a waiting list since September of 2011, they called and we started the process to finally find out what is going on with Evan. It started with an appointment with a developmental pediatrician. A very long appointment. And it was so frustrating that I ended up sobbing for the second half of the 4-hour interview. How do you replay every little issue a child has had since birth, through age 11, into one appointment? And of course I totally had unrealistic expectations for the appointment. I knew how the process would work way in advance, that this was just the start, but still—maybe it is the mom in me—I clung to this appointment like our lives depended on it. It was my lifeline.

Because Evan has gotten worse. He seems to be deteriorating before our eyes. In truth, the differences between him and his peers is probably just becoming more noticeable with age. But still, this is how it seems from so…up close.

So the doc did his job. He gave me some assessments to complete. Written ones. One for ADHD and another for autism spectrum disorders, which confirmed my gut feelings all along. He doesn’t just have ADHD. There is more going on. Simple as that. But what? Turns out that Evan met as much criteria for an ASD as he did for ADHD. So referrals were made and appointments were scheduled. Speech, OT, psych, IQ evaluations over the coming months. Today…Well, today was Day 1. But first some background information.

Since we have suspected Asperger’s for Evan for some time now, I have really been paying attention. And suddenly, as we are meeting with and speaking with these experts at a major pediatric research institution, and they are asking questions about Evan. About early childhood, how he has developed, how the problems have surfaced. And everything…everything…is making sense. How, when he was little, Evan would flip over toy cars and trucks and just play with the wheels. As he got older, he did the same with his tricycle, bike….How Evan never could sleep well. I remember one time in particular that John and I had not slept in over a week, and we were so sickly-looking that Ev’s pediatrician gave him a powerful sedative for 2 nights, giving us orders to give it to him at bedtime and we were to go to sleep. All of his independence. I thought he was just really smart, and he is, but the independence at such a young age…He still has trouble with his shoelaces, yet he has been able to operate a computer since he was 3. And then there is the freak-out we get when he is tickled, played with. We found out yesterday that he feels like he has to have his feet on the ground. And he likes deep pressure. Thus the embarrassing resurrection of the outgrown clothes that are waaaaaay too small.

So his first day of evaluations came. First, the ADOS, or Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule. A speech-language pathologist did this with him. It was 3.5 hours long, and I had no participation other than to sit in a separate room and watch on a video monitor with a set of headphones. It was so surreal to watch my baby, and while we have witnessed his behavior first-hand, there are just some things you block out. Watching him on that screen, I was able to see him how an uninterested third party might. And I saw.

I saw the little boy who barely made eye contact. I saw the mix-up of literal and implied meanings—I didn’t even realize he did this. I saw the kid who, despite a huge vocabulary and intellect to match, could not keep basic emotions separate. And then the part that literally left me gasping like the wind had been knocked out of me: she was talking to him about friends. Well, even though I hate it, I know Evan has no friends. So I am saddened to hear him describe his classmates. First the girls, then when the therapist asked him if he has any who are boys, he started to name the boys in his class. She asked him to describe the difference between classmates and friends and he could not. She asked him what made these boys his friends and he named one boy in his class and said he is his friend because he doesn’t bully him as much as the other boys. And the blood rushed to my head. My ears began to hum and tears stung my eyes. This. This is the part that hurts so badly.

So on we went. Next eval was occupational therapy. The therapist didn’t know what he was being evaluated for in order to keep an unbiased opinion. And after reading his history, she asked me about Asperger’s. And after telling her I didn’t think she would find anything other than handwriting and a couple of other fine motor issues, I was stunned. He has no coordination. He couldn’t catch or toss a ball with any accuracy whatsoever, had very little by way of dexterity, and after assessment, seems to have major sensory issues, She gave him some stiff putty to play with and he came alive, kneading it and working it with his fingers the entire time. She gave him an exercise ball to bounce on and for the first time in a long time, he looked content. He looked happy. Animated. He looked relieved.

I have been both amazed and, well, wrecked a little if I am being honest. Every little question, every little nagging thought you have as a mother…knowing something is not right, but nor being able to point it out specifically. Well, over a decade’s worth of that is coming to a conclusion, so it is like a weight has been lifted. And then there is the knowledge: will he ever have friends who appreciate all of the amazing gifts he has? Will he have a date to the prom? Goals for his future? Can we overcome this, too?

Today, I got info in the mail to get him registered with the Autism Treatment Network. That one killed a little bit. I carefully filled in his name, his city and date of birth underneath the letterhead with the dreaded A-word that can invoke terror in the hear of any parent. And I thought back to the day he was born. The hopes we have held just for him. The memories of smiles and laughter, of amazement at his ability. And I knew, suddenly. Just like that, I knew that, just like when he was a baby and we helped him through colic or reflux, or formula intolerances, just like I helped him when he had an ear infection or a scraped knee. I will help him through this. I will champion for him. He is my baby. He is still perfect.

Autism Awareness Month

April 1st isn’t just for pranks. Today kicks off Autism Awareness Month.

But this shit ain’t no joke, ya’ll.

This was not supposed to touch my life at all. I had no clue what autism even entailed. I pictured Rain Manand Ju-Ju-Judge Wapner. I had heard of the vaccine controversy, but that’s it. Yeah, I know that’s offensive, but that is the God-forsaken truth of the matter.

Then one night I was googling some of the crazy crap my odd child does. Surely, in the vastness of the interweb, there existed someone who had seen a child do some of these things. Somehow this had an answer to it. Everyfuckingthing has an answer. I did not like what I was reading. But suddenly everything was making sense. The trouble in school, despite his giftedness. The ADHD diagnosis that didn’t seem to explain everything, with treatment that should’ve helped and didn’t.  His irritability and all-out rages. His lack of ability to make friends his age. His harmless obsessions with weird subjects. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. I could go way back and link up trouble he has had his entire life–sleep disturbances, now-apparent sensory issues, temperament…..All of it–every single bit—pointed to what I was reading.

Asperger’s Syndrome. An autism spectrum disorder.

And when I made an appointment with a therapist and psychiatrist, telling him what his symptoms were, they were supposed to tell me it wasn’t so, that I was reading too much into it. Instead, they referred me to developmental specialists who have such long waiting lists that we are still waiting for that appointment six months after the referral.

And I didn’t get to dip my toes into the icy water, aclimating myself to the change. I had to cannonball my way into the shit. And I still don’t like it. The water is still freezing. I have not adjusted to the upset just yet. I just never thought  we would have one of those things associated with our lives. You know, one of those things that they name a month after. Like April and Autism Awareness Month. I mean, my child has an IQ somewhere above 160. He’s gorgeous. He’s funny. He was supposed to go on and be the quarterback of the football team in high school while still managing a full academic scholarship to Harvard.

Okay, so while we wait for an “official diagnosis”, we know he has it. So how do we fix it? C’mon, doc, write the prescription. Only this isn’t strep throat that can be wiped clean with bubblegum-pink amoxycillin. We can’t fix it. It just is. But what caused it? This way, we can prevent it in the future. What do you mean, nobody knows? If nobody knows, then we can’t fix it, we can’t prevent it, we can’t eradicate the damned problem. Is it my genes? Did I do this to my son? Did I hug him one too little times as a baby? Did I let him eat too many Happy Meals? And why is it that one child “on the spectrum” is in diapers and cannot speak a lick, yet my son can do math 4 grade levels above his own, is almost too independent, and speaks like a fucking Ph.D, yet is on the same spectrum? How in the hell is that possible and what accounts for the difference?

And then comes the whopper. This is just how Evan is. You cannot do a thing about it but love him. And would you want to fix it if you could? Isn’t this a part of who he is? There is still so much to learn, so much to understand.

And that is why we need Autism Awareness Month. In honor of the occassion, I have placed a clickable puzzle-piece icon on the top of the right-handed sidebar where you can donate to a worthy autism cause, if you feel so inclined.