List 10 things you wish you could say to strangers who share unsolicited advice about your parenting skills.
It was hard to limit my list to just ten things. And since The Boy is now almost 16, the looks and comments I get about him refer mostly about him, and not directly about my parenting skills or discipline (but I know that they're thinking about what a lousy job I've done). At this point, I get more looks than actual comments.
The look I hate the most is when they screw their faces up into the pity look. I don't need their pity; I sure as hell don't want their ill-formed advice.
And the comments are always from adults - kids, for the most part, keep their traps shut.
- "What are YOU looking at?"
- "Aren't you glad he's not twins?"
- "You take him home. Let's see you do better."
- "He's autistic, what's your excuse for staring so rudely?"
- Sometimes, after repeated looks, I'd like to say, "Come on, admit it - you're jealous that you're not me, aren't you?"
- I sometimes get the comment "You sure have your hands full." I hate that. It sounds like The Boy is a hopeless cause, and I'm so overwhelmed that I can't do better. To that, I'd say, "Bite me."
- When The Boy insulted the lady in the store, telling her "I can't believe God made someone as fat and ugly as you", I wanted a hole to open up in the floor, so I could disappear. My response? "He has issues. I'm very sorry."
- Another comment I get is "Better you than me." Oh, yes, that's helpful. I don't even know how to respond to that one, other than to give them the stink eye.
- One of my least favorite comments (said when he was younger, and more, uh, energetic) "A good swat on the butt would take care of that." To them, I'd say, "Only if a swat on the butt would somehow fix brain chemistry - go ahead, give it a try."
- At Eli's birthday party on Saturday, another guest said "I knew something was 'off' about him, but I didn't know what." To her, I wanted to say, "Yes, it would be easier for you if he wore a shirt that listed his diagnoses, wouldn't it?"
"They don't want the truth - they can't handle the truth!"
What they most want to do is retreat into their own perfect family and thank God that The Boy isn't theirs.
I'm glad The Boy is mine, he's still a work in progress - maybe one day, he'll be socially appropriate a majority of the time.
With current autism rates at an all time high, maybe acceptance of kids with special needs will become common, as more families have personal experiences with them.
One can only hope. And smile, wistfully, until then.