I am talking about the folks that give me dagger eyes as I’m walking towards the checkout with my son who is upset & screaming out the names of EVERY OTHER blind bag he wants to buy today. I don’t know what makes you think that I deserve those dirty looks OR why you think it’s ok to cast some kind of judgement on my son and I. You see, I’m the Momma that is pushing the cart and talking calmly to my son. Not because I condone his behavior, but because I understand that he is frustrated and doesn’t quite understand my instructions of “We can only get 1 toy”. My son, Dawson, has autism. He learns differently.
We use our Target shopping trips as a learning tool. It’s how we learned to wait patiently in line. That was HUGE for us because Dawson HATED LINES!! I never had to limit his toy choice before because he usually just picked 1 out. But, he has started asking for more and more. Because Dawson was using his words I rewarded him. HOORAY for using more words!! But, that reward was a double edged sword. Now he doesn’t want to leave the store without buying $20 worth of different blind bags.
So, as hard as it is for him. I HAVE to teach Dawson that my words have meaning and that we follow through with our actions. No, I don’t want to stand in line behind 4 people waiting to buy 1 toy as my kid melts down. But, I HAVE to. I HAVE to follow through on what I said, “We can only get 1 toy.” So, I can’t just leave and tell him we can’t buy this 1 toy because he’s upset. My words need to show him that they have meaning. So, we tough it out, stay in line, and we “only get 1 toy.” Today was tough, but maybe next time won’t be. But, if it is, maybe the time after that won’t be so tough.
Although you may see a stoic-looking Momma calmly talking to her screaming child, what you don’t see is when that Momma is turning to the side she is wiping away tears because her heart is breaking for her baby. You don’t see that when that Momma gets home she breaks down because she wishes it wasn’t so hard. Because it is HARD some days. REALLY HARD.
So, although I appreciate the grandmother and her grandson that tried to talk to Dawson mid-meltdown about not needing to be upset, please, don’t. I think if Dawson could just stop being upset & understand he would. But, right now he can’t. And no, tapping him on his shoulder won’t help him to focus on what you’re saying either. To the sweet lady who wanted to give him gum as we were trying to leave, thank you, but no. He can’t have the gum because I won’t reward his meltdown, and my instructions for Dawson were “We can only get 1 toy.” Remember, I have to remain strong and teach him my words have meaning.
If you want to help a Momma in this situation, why not ask what you could do to help. Perhaps you could pray for that Momma from where you’re at. I promise that would mean the world to this Momma. Maybe let that Momma and child go in front of you in line. But, whatever you do, DON’T cut side glares at them. That moment is tough enough. There is no reason to make it more stressful. As thick as my skin has become, it still stings a bit. Be kind.
Thank you, Harold, for being so sweet every time we come through your checkout. Thank you for just patting my hand when you handed me the receipt and telling me to have a wonderful day today. Because, you got it. You got that today was tough. And instead of glances, comments or questions, you gave me a little encouragement with that small gesture.
Please be kinder than you should. You really don’t know what someone is going through.
Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverb 3:3