I would like to thank all the old ladies who gave me the stink eye while I was in the grocery store yesterday. For those who may not know, L is borderline autistic. He has frequent meltdowns if things aren’t done a certain way. He’s now in this routine for the grocery store: He “pushes” the cart (while I pull and steer from the end of it), and he has to be the one to put the groceries in the cart. Yesterday, I was grabbing something, offered it to him, he didn’t want to put it in the cart, so I did. Well, it just doesn’t matter if he says no, if anyone but him puts it in, he freaks out. Didn’t matter what I did, he wouldn’t be consoled. I think part of the problem was he had a very short nap and was tired.
Whatever the reason, he was in meltdown mode. Inconsolable crying, nothing could appease him, and of course, the best part, he now refused to move from that spot in the aisle. I asked him politely to move and follow me so we could go get Mr. Then I told him, still calm and everything, that we needed to go. He wouldn’t budge. So I grabbed his hand and began to walk. That’s when he decided to become boneless and try to fall to the floor. Now, his teacher has showed me a way to hold on to him, kind of force him to stand up when he does that. The only problem was, it requires two hands and I only had the one available. Also, have you ever tried to move a boneless, crying kid through a store while he’s wearing a heavy sweater? I kept grabbing sweater, not kid.
Needless to say, there were lots and lots of stink eyes as I hurried to the checkout and got out of there. Now, I was finished with my shopping and was out of there in under 5 minutes. I didn’t drag my crying child all over the store. Have I done that before? Yes, when I couldn’t wait until later to grab something from the store. Most of the time, if it can wait, I leave. Last night was one of those nights were I couldn’t wait until he stopped crying, but luckily, I had everything and had been on my way to the checkout.
I pushed the cart, and tried to avoid dragging my son, through the parking lot and, when he dropped and tried to lay down in the middle of the road, I had enough. I stopped the cart, picked him up, threw him over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and hurried to the van. For some reason, there were a lot of people just milling around the parking lot, and they all seemed to be older women. As soon as I picked him up like that, I swear to you, two different groups of women started pointing and whispering behind their backs. I try to ignore when people do that in public, because they don’t know L and don’t know what his issues are. I know there are some moms who have handy cards to hand out, explaining about autism and such, but I don’t.
One one hand, I think those cards are great, because people are usually more patient with a parent when they understand the child is autistic, but on the other hand, have we gotten so judgey as a community that no one will give a parent a free pass if their child is having a meltdown in the store? K, my daughter, is “normal”, yet I definitely can remember some meltdowns she had in public as a child. Hell, she occasional still has them. Maybe what I’m trying to say is, let’s give some parents a break, okay? Yes, the screaming child in the store can be annoying, but it happens. Next time you see a parent dealing with a child in the middle of a meltdown, offer them a kind smile instead of a scowl and whispered insults.