Saturday, February 23, 2008


We don't have a diagnosis for our rooster yet, for what his doctors and "ists" call "a constellation of issues."

Today, we took Peaches and the rooster for a quick trip to KMart to buy some cheap spare sneakers for him, since he usually has a wet or dirty pair just when we need to go somewhere. Last time we were there we didn't manage to get the shoes because it was Valentine's Day and as soon as the kids spotted the balloons, we were done. We spent ten bucks on a balloon that sang, just to have the rooster insist we "let it go free!" as soon as we got home. (Anyone familiar with Jamie Lee Curtis' book "Where Do Balloons Go When You Let Them Go Free?" knows exactly where the rooster gets his inspiration.) Today, with no exciting holidays on the horizon, we went in and made a bee-line straight for shoes, but of course they were having a sale, so we were forced to pass by, of all things, you guessed it, balloons. These were just plain pastel ones on simple strings, so Peaches couldn't have cared less this time, but the rooster? Well, for some reason we decided to plow on.

"No, rooster, those balloons are not for sale. They are for decoration. Look at them and enjoy them with your eyes. Then, let's buy some cool SUPER MAN SHOES! OR, LOOK, SPONGE BOB SHOES! DON'T YOU JUST LOVE THESE SPONGE BOB SHOES?"

Just then, a woman tried to make her way down the aisle, between our two carts filled with our two wonderful offspring. "Excuse me," I said, moving Peaches' cart out of her way. "No problem," she said, smiling at the well behaved little girl, and then turning her attention on my inconsolable boy, still screaming his balloon demands. Her face the picture of disdain, she proclaimed, "Is he spoiled or what? Whooooheeeee! Yes, you are SPOILED. Mmmmm Uhmmm...." and she pushed her way through and disappeared.

As quickly as it played out, another mom's blog was reading itself aloud in my head, a blog I'd read a few months back by the mom of a boy she calls her monkey. She had written about the clerk in the grocery store who tsked at the monkey for standing in a cart. And there was another one about a boy on the spectrum getting dirty looks for listening to an ipod... how many kids with special needs have received intrusive, know-it-all looks or comments from the ignorant people in their midst? So in one of the blogs I'd read, the mom said, "He's autistic," and shut that critic right up.

I had a split second in which I thought of this before the KMart Witch vanished on her broom stick, but no words came to me. None had the assurance or the diagnosis that packed punch; I don't think I'm ready to pronounce the rooster autistic before a doctor does. I don't know, does this sound like a snappy comeback to you? "No, he's not spoiled, he's POSSIBLY-GOT-PERVASIVE-DEVELOPMENTAL-DELAY-NOT-OTHERWISE-SPECIFIED-OR SOME-OTHER-THING-ON-THE-AUTISM-SPECTRUM, now kiss my balloons, you witch!"

Hey, I understand and usually empathize when people lose their patience with the rooster. He's hard! But he cost her nothing, and the public finger pointing at our whole family certainly didn't make our daily parenting challenges any easier. To her, he was a tantrum throwing 3 and a half year old boy getting on her nerves. To him, he was being forced to sit strapped into a cart surrounded by his favorite objects floating just out of reach, while his parents insisted he look at shoes -- boring SHOES! -- while every urge in his impulsive body rebelled.

We made it out with a pair of black pirate sneakers, some righteous indignation, and no balloon.

We might not have a diagnosis yet, but there are a few possible ones we've completely discarded, and SPOILED is at the top of the list.


tulipmom said...

You'd think by now I might be able to let those nasty judgmental comments roll off my back, but I can feel my blood starting to boil just reading this post. I've often thought about ordering those autism awareness cards that you can pass out to strangers like that witch. I probably should. It's only a matter of time before we run into another one.

Robin said...

I remember those days, I tried saying "He has Sensory Integration Disfunction" (my son's first diagnosis) and got even worse looks. Go ahead, use the autism word, it's not like families with autistic kids own the rights to it. And who knows, it could help the next family either with Autism, PDD-NOS, or just a really tired kid. Cause it is none of that witch's business anyway.

Joeymom said...

I have a friend who actually has business cards she gives out that say her child is autistic, and explain what autism is. There's a "shut the hell up you witch." It still irks me to have strangers come up to me in Walmart and make comments about Joey being in the cart. Just in the cart, mind you. Not screaming, not carrying on, just "that child is too old to be in a cart." No, he's not. He's five. Thanks. Move along. Nothing more to see here.

There really is nothing to be said to stupid people. And I think my friend is discovering those kinds of people can't read.