I was at the Dollar Tree earlier today. We go through coloring books pretty quickly these days and I’m not about to pay the $5 each from our usual grocery store. Anyway, Simon was being a butt this morning and Adam wasn’t feeling well, so I took Simon with me to get him out of the house. He was fussing about riding in the cart and, to be fair, the Dollar Tree carts look really uncomfortable. I got him out of the cart on the condition that he walk with me. He immediately threw himself on the floor and started crying. Now, this wasn’t a meltdown. This wasn’t even a full-blown 3-year-old tantrum. This was just a tired, grouchy kid expressing his frustration with the world. He laid on the floor and cried for less than a minute.
Another customer nearby looked at me, laughed, and said, “He should have been raised when I was growing up and that wouldn’t be happening.”
The fuck you just say to me???
“Excuse me,” I reply, picking Simon up to carry him. “You don’t know my son. He’s autistic. Give him a break.”
“Excuses, excuses.” He kind of flapped his arms at me and smirked.
It escalated from there. I wish I could say that I was the bigger person and just walked away, but, nope. I yelled. He laughed. I screamed. I complained to the cashier about him (she agreed with me, by the way). I cried. He mentioned that autism isn’t real and it’s “just an excuse” and I yelled some more. When he got into line behind me, I told him to stay the fuck away from me and my kid, at which point he starts claiming he never said anything to me. I yelled some more profanities at him and then left, making sure to take his picture on my way out.
Then I sat in my car and cried hysterically on the phone to Adam, while Simon cuddled his seahorse in his car seat.
I wish I hadn’t let that guy upset me so much.
I wish I had remained calm and spoken without anger/yelling.
I wish I hadn’t even mentioned autism, because it had nothing to do with the situation.
I wish I had just walked away.
I wish I hadn’t cried in front of him.
I wish I had been a better advocate for Simon than this.
I wish people would realize that, autistic or not, kids throw fits in public. It’s what they do.
I wish that people wouldn’t make snap judgements about people they see in public.
I wish this guy’s parents had raised him to be a decent human being instead of ginormous asshole. (Snap judgement? Yes, perhaps. I’m not perfect. And he was a ginormous asshole.)
I wish that people, when they see a parent struggling with a crying or unruly kid, would offer to help instead of making snide cracks about parenting ability.
When you see someone in public dressed in a way you find improper, or with kids that are acting out, or behaving in a way you deem offensive, please remember, you do not know their story. If they are not directly bothering you or in danger or harming someone else, leave them the fuck alone. You do not know them or their story.
To the guy at Dollar Tree today: You do not know my son. You do not know me. You do not know our struggle. You do not know how far he’s come.
But you can be sure that I will remember you. And if I ever see you again and if you dare to open your mouth about me or my children, I will punch you in the fucking throat.
You do not know my son.