It was last August, and it still pisses me off.
I was with my sister-in-law and her two kids at one of those questionably sanitary play places with all the giant equipment for kids to climb up and around in. I was with my very recently turned three year-old (spoiler alert: turns out he has autism) and my four- month old son. Needless to say, I was tired.
Sidebar: I pride myself on being a mom who diligently watches her child in any group or public setting. I have to. My son is aggressive. He’s been kicked out of day cares (stories to share at a later date). I monitor him closely because I fear for the other children. His aggression is exhausting, anxiety-inducing, and downright embarrassing at times.
Enter cranky old lady. Rather, enter cranky old lady’s shouting, “That boy is hitting her! That boy is hitting her!”
The pit of my stomach drops. I swear I looked away for only a minute! Gulping, my eyes glance up to the top of the play structure (unreachable for any average-sized adult) and see my oldest son hitting a girl about twice his size. I can guarantee you what happened. The older girl probably bumped him as she walked by, and he assumed she was trying to hurt him. In a flight or fight scenario, he’s all about the fight.
Regardless, it’s obviously not okay to hit other kids, so I call to him to come down from the structure and “take a break.”
Big C (what my oldest will be referred to as from now on) sits with my sis-in-law while I go order some hot dogs and fries, baby in tow. As I walk back with food, I hear her (bless her heart) talking heatedly to the cranky old lady.
“What’s going on?” I ask.
The woman glares at me and says, “That boy of yours is bad! Maybe if you didn’t raise him to hit, he wouldn’t be!”
At this point, I’m visibly shaking with rage. I imagine myself decking the cranky old lady in the face, then standing triumphantly over her body.
Sometimes it’s so fun to imagine.
Instead, I take the high road and just get right in her face (Big C’s not the only one with the fight response). I say a lot of things I can’t exactly remember anymore, but it is something along the lines of, “Are you kidding? You think I teach my kid to hit? How dare you! He’s three! I’m doing the best I can!”
Whatever I said, or how I said it, must have been intimidating on some level because that woman backed away and didn’t speak to us the remainder of our stay. She did, however, speak to the two little girls she was presumably a nanny for, calling them “bad” when they made a mess throwing their trash away (clearly cranky old lady has her own set of issues).
Why do I bring up this little anecdote for my first post? Because it is a prime example of what I fear. People judging my son. Judging me. People’s inability to see beyond face value. It terrifies me. It makes me so angry I want to punch something. Hard.
So instead, I write. Writing about that cranky old lady is its own sort of reward.
And please, keep reading. I have so many more stories to share.