My Broken Mommy Heart
My mom always told me that parenting just gets harder as your kids grow up. She told me that the first time your kid gets their feelings hurt at school, it’s just awful. You just want to fix it, but you can’t.
Last week, a little boy at the Dollar Tree broke my mommy heart.
I try to make special trips to stores like this, just as an opportunity for Colin to practice being at the store. He was so happy, playing with the little stuffed monkeys he had found. He was making his happy sounds, and all was right in his world.
This mom started calling her son to her. I knew what was happening: she was trying to get her kid away from my kid. The little boy, maybe seven or eight years old said to his mom, “I wasn’t doing anything. He’s weird. He sounds like….”
I hurried in the other direction, because I didn’t want to hear the rest of that conversation. I didn’t want to hear what he said, and I really didn’t want to hear what his mom had to say. I was afraid of what I might hear. The angry part of me wanted to chase that kid down and say, "Hey, you're mean!" But then I remembered that I'm 33 years old and too old to act like a seven year old! Some days, the battle just isn't worth fighting...
Colin wasn’t paying attention to them, he was blissfully happy with his new toys. He’s so smart though, guys. He understands what people say to him. He understands what people say about him. He didn’t hear this at all, but I did…and it broke my heart.
I was on the verge of tears, but I didn’t want him to know that. That’s something that I’ve become very conscious of over the last year. I don’t want him to see me being sad, because he doesn’t make me sad. How other people treat him (or others on the spectrum), well, that often makes me sad.
In a way, we live in our own little bubble. We have family and friends who love him. Church family who understand, accept, and love him. We have his school where everyone is also a part of “the tribe.” I sometimes forget that others don’t “get it.” Then things like this happen and my bubble bursts.
I wasn’t going to share this story, because it upset me so. I don’t really want to remember stories like
this either. I do, however, want to educate others, and this is definitely a teachable moment.
You might ask me, “Well, what should the mom and son have done in this situation?”
Ask me about Colin! Introduce yourself and ask, “Why does he make that sound?” Or whatever the question might be. Then I can explain it to you, and you’ll understand. Exposure. Understanding. Awareness. Acceptance.
Finley got his first-ever report card this week. He had “Satisfactory” on his social skills and work habits. Listed were all of the letters and numbers he could identify. A list of sight words he can read. His teacher had written a couple of little notes:
Finley is a great student. He is very kind to others.
Do you know what I am most proud of?
“He is very kind to others.”
I am certain that Finley is kind to others because of his brother. Having a brother with special needs has made him even more compassionate than he was already. I've said this before and I'm going to say it again: we could all stand to be a little more like Finley.
I want to stress this: be kind. Teach kindness to your children.
I’m not saying that you need to like everyone, because that’s not realistic – but you can be nice to everyone! My son is different, yes, but different isn’t weird. Before you say something hurtful, remember this: he has feelings, and so does his emotional mommy.