Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bitter Lemons Need Extra Sugar

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Squirting lemon juice into my cuts

Tonight as I sit here, still shaken, I pray for the psycho mama who chased me out of the theater, swearing and threatening me.  G accidentally hit her on his way out to go to the restroom, neither of us knew.  I was intent on getting him out without disturbing anyone in the mostly empty theater.  He went down the aisle, then back towards our seats, saying, "I want N to come!" and starting on a tantrum track.  I coaxed him out to the steps, then walked down 2 stairs to wait, since he'd quieted down.  He walked up the stairs, then back down, then back to N, then up again, then finally to me.  As I waited for him to get his stimming in, I watched a woman watch him, scowl on her face, nastier and nastier following his every move, staring.  When he came down to me, she turned her scowl on me.  That was where I should've left it. Well, maybe a scowl back at her.

But instead I asked, "What are you looking at, anyway?"  And shook my head on our way out.  I must confess, my mama instinct was rankled. I was irked that she was watching my son with such scorn, since he was quite obviously not a typical child.  But still, I should have simply walked away. 

I was unprepared for what happened next.  As we got to the door, the woman came barreling out, " Hey B____, you got something to say to me?  I'll smack you in the face!"  I said, "Why were you looking at my son that way?  I have an autistic son here."  She spat back, "He hit me in the face on his way by!"  I said, "Well, why didn't you just say something to us then?  I'm sorry, I have an autistic son here.  I didn't know."  From her, "I don't care, B____, I'll smack you in the face!"  I said, "Why are you talking this way, we're at a kid's movie!"  And again, "I don't care, B____!" and she stormed back into the movie. 

As I waited in shock for G to go potty, I started to shake.  I knew that I couldn't go back in and risk that G bother her any more.   Even just seeing her during the movie would unnerve me.  I made the difficult decision to leave the theater, knowing that the kids would be confused and disappointed.  I took G and asked for a manager, and as soon as I started to describe the scene to the young man, tense and hurt tears started to flow.  He was wonderfully patient and offered a full refund or admittance to another movie.  He even offered to get my kids from the theater for me.  I didn't want them worried so I went myself, accompanied by him and another usher, feeling like I was being guarded by secret service. 

I decided that I needed to get out of the theater to try to forget the scene, calm down, and return later for another movie.  My resilient kids weren't horribly disappointed, but instead got mad at the lady for attacking me.  My daughter said she saw the woman take off after me, swinging her purse like she wanted to hit me with it.  I'm not sure about that, but I can say that I felt intense heat from this lady.  It wouldn't have taken much to get decked.  Right in front of G...Yikes!

The only disability in life is a bad attitude. ~Scott Hamilton

Yesterday on our way into a store, G looking back towards me, walked right into a man, not hard, just a bump.  The man shook his head, started swearing and was altogether nasty on his way by.  Another customer dropped his jaw at me as we stared incredulously after the angry man.  We live in a lovely, calm suburban area.  Yes, it's hot as blazes outside.  Yes, times are tough and many have huge life-threatening burdens.  Yes, there are many reasons to be on edge, grumpy.  But really, could they forgive a child, look past an innocent accident?  When we go out into public places, don't we have to expect to have a bit of tolerance for others?  These 2 incidents could have happened to either of my neurotypical kids, to anyone really.  Because of G's social deficits, I'm more aware of other's reactions, but also more solicitous.  I always apologize way more than needed and have him apologize if I catch it right away.

When life gives you lemons, please, just don't squirt them in other people's eyes. ~J. Andrew Helt 

This post isn't about accepting differences or ASD awareness, it's about humanity.  Being humane.  Living compassionately. 

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.   I love this quote, try to live it, but forgot it today in my protective mama mode.

So I've decided to pray for the lady who pounced on us.  Send her positive waves.  She obviously needed the lighthearted children's movie more than I do.  It also plainly was not working for her, but maybe she got a few laughs in.  Maybe she feels better by blowing some of her anger out on me.  Better me than her kids sitting next to her I suppose.  G didn't realize anything at all, I'm grateful for that.

I washed my tears away in Target's bathroom and we opted for some retail therapy.  Afterwards, we checked out a free community relations event in the parking lot.  The kids got their face painted, jumped in a bounce house, got a tour of a police car, free food and each of them won a raffle prize due to low turnout.  Each of the staff was kind and understanding, and a father was beyond wonderful when G bopped his son with a beach ball in the bounce house.  I apologized and thanked him for his understanding a few times, typical me.  As we sat eating our hot dogs, a mom approached and asked if we wanted a kite that G said he wanted to win.  I said, "Oh thanks, but you keep it!"  She said, "No really, 3 of them will drive me crazy anyways, my daughters each won one."  Before we left, I sought her out and told her that her kindness was incredibly meaningful because we'd just had a pretty negative experience.  I wanted her and her children to feel our gratitude for going out of their way for us, for no reason other than kindness.  She humbly smiled.

And that my friends is why I built a pink Barbie kite for my son at 10 pm., turned on all the outdoor lights, and "flew" (waved) the kite down the driveway for G on a moonless, windless night.  Let hope soar!

Your heart is a sun -
Joy its stars,

Faith a moon, shining in your darkness...
~Terri Guillemets

Have you tried a sensory friendly film?
AWESOME!  I took G a few months ago for his 1st theater experience.  It went so well that I decided to try a regular viewing.  OOPS - guess that didn't work out so well!  Next time, I'm going back to this calm, accepting atmosphere.  Until then,  we'll be flying G's kite and praying for tolerance.

See my follow-up post for a helpful idea...