Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Grumpy Yogurt Lady

I got yelled at in Aldi yesterday. It was no big deal, really--some lady just calling me out for what she perceived to be my kid's bad behavior (and my lack of fitness as a parent, no doubt) when Stow kicked a container of yogurt that someone else had dropped and left behind in a small, enticing puddle of creamy white. After he kicked it, Stow dashed in the other direction before I could either stop him or pick up the messy container. Not knowing whether he would stop at the door, I ran after him. That's when she yelled at me for dropping and leaving the container on the floor.

She couldn't know that the yogurt container was already there or that my focus was on keeping Stow from picking up the container and getting yogurt on his hands because I know it would make him sick if he ate any of it. She couldn't know that we don't even shop in the dairy section due to all of our food allergies. She couldn't know that I was much more worried about Stow careening away from me and into other customers or out onto the street than I was about a stray yogurt container. She couldn't know that the spilt yogurt on the floor mere feet from the check out lane was the last thing I needed to see at the end of a harrowing grocery store visit. She couldn't know that I was shopping with Stow because currently the best way to keep him calm and safe is to keep him close to me, even if it means taking him to the grocery store at the end of a long day. She couldn't know that Stow feels keenly the disdain of others even if he doesn't quite know how to make sense of or control all that's happening outside and within him right now.

All she knows is that she saw some rude lady and her bratty kid throw/drop a container of yogurt on the ground and then leave it there. So, she yelled down the aisle at me, "Ma'am?! Aren't you going to take this?" before angrily picking it up and thrusting it into the closest refrigerator. As I ran after Stow, I tried to explain, but she didn't want to hear it. Fortunately, Stow stopped at the end of the aisle, and when he realized she'd put the yogurt in the wrong place agreed to walk with me to get it and then to hand it off to a store employee. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, all she chose to see as I fought (and sometimes failed) to help Stow keep it together through checkout and bagging was an unruly kid and his ineffective mother.

Stow woke me up Sunday morning with this picture. "This is me," he said. "I'm a monster."
It's been awhile since I let the disapproving stares get to me. Part of that is because now that Sky is older, it has been awhile since I've had complete strangers judge me for the misbehavior of my kid. But mainly it's because I am feeling pretty raw about how things have been going lately. I wish Stow wasn't struggling the way he's struggling, and I want to help get him through this rough patch with as little heartbreak as possible.

The grumpy yogurt lady made me mad.  And sad. But, here's the thing: her reaction actually helped me remember something pretty important that I was starting to forget. She reminded me that my expectations and her expectations and your expectations don't mean much right now because right now is about breathing deep, drawing in close, and letting a little boy who's feeling pretty lost know that we've got his back no matter what.


viviane said...

No matter what.
I once talked with a woman who had a boy with the same syndrome as my two younger (Fragile X), and she told me the problem was that their issues did not show on their faces. Sadly, people are much nicer with Down children…
What do you tell Stow when he says "I am a monster" ?
Big hugs.

Mom on the Edge said...

I tell him I know he's not a monster because I know he's doing his best. I tell him I'm sorry it's so hard right now but that, no matter what, I love him totally and completely and will forever and ever. Both my boys need to know we see them doing their best even when other people can't.

viviane said...

After I posted my comment, I thought that maybe a monster was not such a negative thing for Stow, he may consider himself as a character in a movie, or in Monsters, inc. In his drawing the monster looks rather like a super hero.