Yes, of course I heard you when you told the clerk you couldn’t hear what she said because that awful kid over there was too loud. I was standing right behind you in line. But of course you knew that.
I was ready to give you the benefit of the doubt, until you sat down at the table right next to that loud kid, when every other table was empty. You could have sat anywhere else.
When that loud kid screeched again, you looked up from your phone, gave him a dirty look at said, “not cool, dude, not cool.”
And then he screeched again. And you said “C’mon, be quiet! It’s not my fault nobody has bothered to teach you to use your inside voice.”
No, Judgmental Jerk, none of this is your fault. It’s not anyone’s fault that sweet, excited boy can’t control the volume of his voice.
It would have been my fault had I given in to my urge to walk over there after paying for our smoothies and beat your ignorant, intolerant ass.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to, because after the inside voice comment, that smart boy gave you a dirty look, glanced over at me and rolled his eyes, nodding over in your direction as if to say, “get a load of this ignorant, intolerant asshole.”
That look made me laugh, because it reminded me that he’s gained so much development in the past few months, especially in his interaction with and awareness of others. He read you perfectly.
You see, Judgmental Jerk, even if I did care what you think of my parenting skills – which I don’t – there is no way I’d let you take the shine off that sweet boy. We were at the smoothie bar to celebrate his first day of staying in his mainstream classroom the entire day, not having to step out one single time to take a sensory break. He maintained a level of behavior for several hours that can be challenging for neurotypical kids, much less someone who can’t speak, struggles with receptive language and is distracted by every toe tap, clock tick, nose sniffle, person walking by in the hallway, waistband on his shorts, texture of his desk and an ongoing struggle to convince his fingers to grip a pencil properly.
Given your lack of self restraint, Sir, I doubt you could have achieved the same feat.
So go ahead. Look at us in disgust when the boy climbs into my lap and gives me a rough hug so awkward that it knocks off my glasses. Shake your head in disbelief and sigh loudly when I hug him back and tell him how proud I am of him. Leave in a huff and go sit on the outdoor patio in the 104-degree heat in the hope that someone will acknowledge the injustice of your oppressive suffering.
We’ll sit here in the air conditioning and savor our hard-won victory without a care in the world.
Oh, and whatever you do, don’t try to elicit the sympathy of the guy in the athletic gear with the giant arms you saw talking to us in the parking lot as he walks by you and into the store. If you think that little boy made your ears bleed, you definitely don’t want to piss off his Daddy. (Although I secretly kind of hoped you would.)
Heather Anderson is a natural health educator, writer, blissfully happy autism mom, fintech marketer and lover of life in Southern California.
Please join me on this autism journey. Let’s create a positive, supportive community in which we can learn, grow and prosper. Where the focus isn’t just on your autistic child, but on your own personal growth as well.