Today has been good. I wanted to wait to write this on such a day. A day where I actively feel gratitude and blessed for my children. A day where Owen going down for a nap is a happy smile of contentment and not the exhausted deflation of relief I feel most days after listening to embattled screams of hourly meltdowns. Most days are hard, for obvious reasons, but I’m trying my damnedest to turn that feeling around. My kids deserve better and I don’t want to feel put upon any longer. Things are difficult but they will pass and I’m doing my very flawed best to make things fun again.
“You’re so brave!”
I know people mean well, and I appreciate the sentiment, but really I’m not. I’m an introverted loud mouth who gets enraged at how my kids are mistreated at times and quickly becomes an angry mama bear to defend and protect them. When it comes to my own treatment, I’m a coward.
A woman laughed good-naturedly at Owen’s attempts to say “rain” today as he hopped and stomped in the puddles. She had no way of knowing that it’s a ritual for him to calm himself after dropping off Nora at school. Something that upsets and saddens him. Her laughter was ill-timed and her further enjoyment of the meltdown she unknowingly caused set my teeth on edge because she kept laughing as he screamed in frustration at her braying.
He clung to me as I folded him into my arms. I heard her as she passed us, “Oh, always a mama’s boy, huh?”
The old me would have seethed, finished the conversation in my head, remained silent and moved along. Not the mom in me, not now. This is about them not giving into bullies. They don’t need to put up with this shit.
“Do you always pick on kids with disabilities or just today?”
She stopped in her stride and looked at me in shock and disbelief as she replied snottily, “What?!”
I gritted my teeth and rephrased it with over enunciation for her.
“Do. You. Tease. Disabled kids?!”
She stared at her feet and mumbled angrily as she stormed off, “Sorry!”
Owen was leaning his forehead against me. I didn’t expect him to look at me. He was staring at his hands that were tapping. But I looked at his face like I always do when I speak to him, secretly hoping he’ll look at me.
“Are you ok, bud?”
“You ready to go home?”
His face crumpled a little again, “Yep.”
I wanted to punch that cackling woman, I wanted to make her read a book on empathy followed by the DSM-V and then make her eat it, but my guess is she didn’t mean any harm. Anymore than someone watching and laughing at a person fall down and not offering help but just standing at a distance to safely enjoy their misfortune. That’s how most people react to his outbursts and it hurts. It hurts every time. Because it hurts him. He understands their tone, and most of their words, but can’t speak himself.
Owen settled into his carseat as I buckled him and scrunched up his face as I kissed his forehead. I watched him and saw no outward sign of the upset he just expressed moments before save for the tears on his cheeks but I could tell it was still within him as he stared out the window ignoring his favorite cars.
“You want to go to the park?”
He swung his face towards me with a theatric “oh” expression as he shouted, “YEAH!”
I’m not brave. I just have a big mouth and a brave kid.