I’ve seen and heard so much in the past few days and it might be because I’m sick (no diagnosis! I’m a House case! Film at 11?) but I feel so overly sensitive to it all, especially surrounding J.
So, the topic that’s sticking in my craw right now is the inevitable public reaction when a child like J or his peers falls apart in public.
We’re all human. We stare. Whether we’re staring at the oddly dressed people or staring at the child screaming as though he or she is on fire, we do it. If someone tells you they’ve never judged another person amid that staring I’m willing to bet all my meager possessions that they’re lying through their teeth.
It’s okay. We’ve all done it. It’s not right, but it’s not a sin worthy of being stoned to death or otherwise punished either. It’s a social condition and one many of us learn from the get go.
Why am I writing this? Because I want the few people who read this to consider the world through a different lens when it comes to seeing that child just losing their mind in a public space. I am not talking about the child very visibly fighting with their parent over an assertion of boundaries and rules, I am talking about the child so panicked and so lost to the horrors of a meltdown that reason can’t break through to them. Their parents stand there with a mixture of embarassment, upset, frustration and sorrow trying to figure out how to move on from there, often retreating from the public eye with their flailing child and hiding away as though they somehow don’t deserve to be in the world.
I’m not so naive as to think the world can change overnight. I would like to think that, given knowledge, at least a few people can be changed. I want to feel that when it is my son who is melting down, for he has before and he will again, that at least one of the people subjecting me to stares is not doing so cruelly but doing so empathetically. I want to think that there’ll be at least one person who will either come over and say “it’s going to be okay” before going on their way or who will just simply take the burden of their gaze off of us and allow us to find center without being glared down like vile enemies.
My son can charm your socks off yet he can also have some of the most spectacular bouts of screaming and panicking you have ever seen. He’s only just three now. Three. These meltdowns are not going to get easier, they’re going to get harder. Louder. Maybe even more violent. They won’t happen every day I pray, but they will happen and are part of living with and loving J and I cannot, for a moment, stomach the idea of keeping him locked away from the world due to the fact a few people are going to misjudge the amazing kid he is or misjudge my hard work as his mother. He deserves the world and the world deserves him. The world deserves all our kids, whatever their struggle may be.
So, world, in light of that I am asking you for a little understanding. Next time you see that parent and that child, realize that there very well could be something so much larger at play that you’re not able to see in that snapshot of a moment. There are kids who run roughshod and there are kids who misbehave. Mine can be one of them. When you see the ones who are dealing with something bigger than mere misbehavior though it will be loudly apparent and you need to know that we need your empathy.
I’ll stop rambling now, the screaming just kicked in over here. Figures, right?