On Parenting and Getting Ugly Looks From Strangers

Photo by Adam Edmond (cc)Yesterday was not a good day. It started out happily enough. We decided to go out to Fort Worth and have brunch at a favorite Mexican restaurant. Then me and the fam were going to go to the gourmet grocery store (my personal Disneyland) to shop.

Well, in between that, I saw there was a Barnes and Noble in the same parking lot as the restaurant. So after our lovely patio brunch, I decided we should walk over so that I can sign stock copies of my books.

(For those who aren't aware what it means to sign stock...This is where you just walk in, grab your books off the shelf, and ask customer service if you can sign them and put "autographed copy" stickers on them. This is a good thing to do because a) autographed copies are more enticing and b) the store can't return signed copies so in essence you're guaranteeing the sale of those books by signing them.)

Okay, so anyway, I tell hubs to watch kidlet while I go look for my books. Well, kidlet, who is normally pretty well-behaved in pubic, is having an off day--an off weekend really. He has high-functioning autism and seems to hit a patch every few months where he morphs into nightmare child, where everything and anything sets him off. I still haven't figured out if these times happen because something is hurting him or he's going through a developmental leap/growth spurt and it's throwing his sensory systems out of whack. I don't know; it's a mystery. But regardless of the reason, they happen and it is highly stressful for all involved. If he was like this all the time, I may have to pick up a drinking habit. j/k...mostly)

So instead of behaving for his daddy, kidlet tears away from him and is basically an obnoxious, whiney 4-year-old when my husband tries to wrangle him again. Meanwhile, I'm tracking down my books, and can hear kidlet's non-"inside" voice from the other side of the store. *cringe* So I hurry up and take care of what I need to do and then go to help hubs.

Well, kidlet is having none of it. He doesn't want to leave, he wants every book in the store, lots of "I don't wanna, I don't wanna, let go of me, don't touch me, etc. etc." He starts crying.

I'm getting down on his level explaining that we need to go, that boys who yell in the store don't get to leave with new toys, and that this behavior is not acceptable. Of course, he's hearing none of that because he's in the meltdown zone.

And while all this is going on, we get a lady walking by giving us the disgusted, judgey McJudginton look. You know the one--"incompetent parents, can't even control their own child."

Seriously. SO not necessary.

Look, I get it. No one likes the sound of a crying or whining kid. And yes, if someone is letting their child run wild and ignoring the behavior or checking their text messages on their phone while their kid bothers other people, then maybe a look is in order. But when parents are obviously trying to fix the situation, doing everything they can to take care of things, do people really need to give the snotty look?

The bitchy part of me wanted to say, "Thank you, ma'am, do you feel better now that you've judged two obviously harried parents and their special needs child? Does that make you feel good and superior?"

Of course I didn't. Because it's not worth it. But still, the words did cross my mind.

And it doesn't matter if my child has special needs or not. Everyone should have a little sympathy now and then for parents and their kids. Parenting is the hardest freaking job on the planet. A kind, sympathetic look can go a long way for a mom or dad who is ready to pull their hair out.

So try to remember (and I try to do the same when I'm on the other side of it): You don't know what someone else's situation is. You don't know what kind of day they may have been through. And it's not anyone's place to lay judgment.

Needless to say, we ended up skipping the grocery store and coming home (with a 45 minute raging tantrum the whole ride home in the car--from kidlet, not me, though I was close.) It was not a fun day all around.

The only thing that made me feel better later was this little scene from True Blood. Did anyone else find this clip ridiculously hot? (I think I've been reading too much m/m romance because I kind of wanted them to kiss, lol.)



So have you ever been that parent getting the mean looks? Have you found yourself doing the judge-y thing? (I know I had my moments before I had a kid and knew what it was like.)