When Clueless People Attack, Part III

Being a Mom 22

Davis Library Children's RoomI had a topic all picked out for this week's column. A happy one! We took Noah to a Halloween festival at his school on Friday night -- a festival that turned out to be bigger, crazier, and more costume-focused than the flyer in his backpack had led me to believe.

In short, it was EXACTLY the sort of thing we avoid like the plague, because Noah simply can't handle that sort of thing.

But guess what! He did great! He had fun! While we had some initial costume-related resistance and freak-outs at home, he willingly donned his Jedi robe (over regular, soft clothing) once we arrived. The other kids and adults in costumes? No big deal. We found a Darth Vader and Princess Leia while waiting in line and they all had an imaginary battle of poses and the occasional swipe of a glowstick.

Inside, Noah not only handled a scarier-than-I-expected "haunted hallway" presented by the fifth graders like a fearless champ, he begged to go through it again and again. He got over some anxiety about the school and classrooms looking so "different" and even sat down and decorated a pumpkin in the art room. The only time he got genuinely upset was when it was time to go home.

I was THRILLED. And so proud. It was the kind of positive my-kid-enjoying-normal-childhood-stuff experience I can live on for a month.

And then today happened.

A few mornings a week, I have a babysitter. She's been watching the boys for close to a year now. She knows and understands Noah's quirks and challenges about as well I think anyone can. She's read every book we have on SPD and special needs and participates in daily sensory diet activities. I am routinely jealous of her seemingly endless levels of patience with him. WE LOVE HER SO MUCH.

She took the boys to the library today, because it was raining. There was a special Halloween kids' book and craft activity there, and everybody was to come in costume. She'd brought their costumes, though I'd warned her that Noah probably wouldn't put his on until he saw other kids wearing theirs, like last Friday. Or maybe not at all, and that was okay too.

Less than an hour later, they were back at home. It had been a disaster. Noah freaked out at the sight of the costumes and started screaming (in the library!) for everybody to take them off. He cried and tantrummed. He wouldn't sit still or participate and demanded that they go home. She tried to stick it out for poor Ezra's sake (because he, of course, was having a blast), but eventually hit the point I've reached so many times at birthday parties and gym classes and weekend activities I was sure were going to be SOMUCHFUN.

Right before they left, another mother looked at Noah and turned to our sitter and said, "Wow, he's a real pain in the neck."

It was all she could do to tell me the story without crying. "She didn't understand! Why would you say that to someone? About a little kid?"

She was embarrassed because everyone looked at her like she was a bad babysitter. She was frustrated because she wasn't sure she'd made the right call to go in the first place, to stick it out, and then to finally grab the kids and bail. She was angry that people were judging Noah when they had no idea what his real problem was or that he wasn't behaving that way on purpose. She was FURIOUS that someone would say something like that about him, right where he could hear it.

Basically, she felt everything that I've felt, and everything that I would have felt, if it had been me at the library today, instead of her.

I was really upset for awhile, after mulling the story over. I was saddened that Friday's success story didn't carry over, and guilty that maybe Noah could have been better prepared via some social stories or that I could have done something different if I hadn't had to work that morning. (Even though, given our overall track record, I know that's not really likely, because I am not -- as I've repeated ad nauseum -- made of magic when it comes to stuff like this.)

And of course, I was overcome with the urge to track that mother down, call her on the phone, and school her proper on sensory issues and pervasive developmental disorder and the need to keep her trap shut when she sees a small child obviously having a rough day for reasons she knows nothing about.

I still am, a little bit. But instead I've decided to focus on the fact that man, my kid could not have better people in his corner, to protect and encourage and defend him the same way I would, even when I can't be there for him.


autism, boys, developmental delays, tantrums, toddler development, working moms


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jodifur jodifur

1.  I love your babysitter that she would react in such a protective way of of your kids.

2.  I am appalled that someone would say that, (but sadly not surprised) IN FRONT OF A CHILD, to a babysitter.  What was she supposed to do?  Be like, you are right, the kid is terrible, let me work for you?

I am so sorry that happened.  Poor Noah.

nonmember avatar JB

So I am NOT AT ALL sticking up for the other mom (in fact I'm still stabby from a fbook comment I got from a clueless "friend" yesterday), BUT is it possible she meant like..."oh kids, they're such a hassle, they can be a pain sometimes, amirite?" Like a mom saying "we're not having a good day today, are we?" when her toddler is crying or etc. Know what I mean...? No? *crickets*

Obviously I wasn't there, but that's the only possible explanation I could think of that ends with her *not* being a b!t@h. OTHERwise.....GARR SMASH and I feel your pain. >:-(

nonmember avatar Annie

That is appalling!

I am so happy to hear that the school trip was so much fun for all of you, though.

I went to my daughter's daycare Halloween "parade" yesterday where they went trick or treating at the local community college. Some of the other moms that had taken off work to be there watched my daughter and I together and definitely had questioning looks on their faces when her issues became more apparent, but they didn't say a word and were kind and friendly. I have NO idea what I would have said if someone had been rude and cruel.

nonmember avatar HereWeGoAJen

What a terrible thing to say at all, LET ALONE in front of a child!

You know, I was nice and understanding before, but your stories have made me even more so. Before, I might see an older kid in a stroller and think (I never SAID it) "wow, that kid is old to be in a stroller" and now I think "hmm, there is probably something going on that I don't know about." I guess what I mean to say is thank you for sharing, your experiences have made me a better person.

nonmember avatar Christen

Your sitter sounds amazing! It sounds like she really respects you and your family, which is just so awesome.

How is it productive to say something like that to a parent/caregiver and in front of the child? Did she think she could shame Noah into behaving or something?

nonmember avatar lolismum

People can be real a-holes. I was looking after my neighbor's son one day. I took him and my daughter to the neighborhood bookstore. They were both 3.5 at the time. He had just been diagnosed with severe cataract in one eye, so he could not see out of that eye. We were going down the steps slowly, he was holding onto the banister on his left/bad side. A woman and her small son were behind us and the kid was pushing to get in front. So I turned to him and gently asked him not to push because my neighbor's son might fall down the stairs. The mom said, "well he could go a little faster. He is walking down like a baby." I was livid, I think I actually saw red. I hissed, "He is partially blind you insensitive dimwit. ". I still get mad when I think about it.

nonmember avatar Kristine

I know the frustration (and confusion) of our kids doing great one day and then really struggling in a similar situation on another day. I always find the days my Noah struggles to hit me harder when they come after a good day. I guess I'm never going to stop hoping he stops struggling at all, ever.

And the other mother? Seriously? What happened to compassion? Sadly that has happened to us more times than I want to remember.

Your baby sitter sounds awesome!

cagey cagey

Truthfully?  A few years back,  I would have been looking awkwardly off, thinking "Jeez, Louise".

Now? I know better.  My nephew is autistic  and was diagnosed in 2007.  I am not only learning from my sister's experiences but also from mothers such as YOU who continue to share your stories.

Please continue to share your experiences, Amy.  It makes all of us pause and listen when we hear a child start to fuss and cry.  You help us see far past the wicked ways Beyond the Brat.  I am far more likely to actually ASSESS the situation now, rather than sitting backing on my fat, padded parenting laurels in sumptious glory.

In short, you rock, Amy. Have a glass of cheap wine.  Or two. ;-D

nonmember avatar Kathleen

I am constantly amazed what people will say in front of kids as though they can't hear or be hurt. However, I do appreciate this series of columns because while I don't think I'd say that stuff aloud (I pray I have that much sense..), it does make me think twice before mentally momjudging that lady on the bus with a five-year old in a stroller. Thanks for making us all think!

aiden... aidensmomma508

you are so lucky to have even a babysitter

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