The first thing I should explain is that Crow really, really loves going to McDonalds for a Happy Meal. He barely eats it, because the food isn’t the point, it’s the ritual/experience.
The key is probably the fact that I let him bring ALL the toys.
He loves traveling in the car with his entourage, and I let him bring them inside because, well, it’s McDonalds. He’s delighted to be able to take his toys out of the bag and line them all up or name them all or sort them or tell me about their various features.
So, we stand out a bit when we’re there, because our table is covered in anthropomorphic vehicles and someone who is maybe slightly out of the expected age range for those toys is happily telling general-you which ones are boys and which are girls. Sometimes grandparent-age people stop at our table and complement Crow on his fine collection. He usually at least gives them a high-wattage smile.
Today we had a late lunch in a nearly-deserted McD’s, along with a lot of Planes toys. We’d had a busy day and Crow was chattering away and processing everything and I was checking email on my phone and doing my part of his scripts, which was all the interaction he wanted from me.
An older dude picked a seat a few tables down from us and had his coffee and newspaper, and when he got up to leave, he approached our table and asked me how old Crow is. I always go super-perky on this one, because sometimes it’s code for, “I can’t help but feel that it’s my business to be baffled by your son’s inability to let go of Thomas if he is as old as I think he is, but first I’ll make sure he’s not just a giant preschooler.” and, well, fuck you if it is, as we don’t owe you any sort of pre-programmed progression through the aisles of Toys R Us. This comes out as, “Oh, he’s SEVEN!” in my most excited voice. Smart people will interpret this as a chance to say he has such pretty eyes and move the fuck on.
Anyway, dude asks for his age, I sparkle back that he’s 7, dude then asks, “Does he have A Problem?”
Things I wish I had said:
You mean like, is he a rude git? Nope, but you should still go away in case you’re contagious.
No, but my foot seems to have a problem with (pause) YOUR NUTS (commits violent assault)
No, do you? Do you need us to help you with something?
I think I said something like, “No, but he is autistic,” and I started to say that spoken language is difficult for him but dude cut me off and said, “I see, well, he’s Quite Limited.”
Again, things I wish I had said:
(breaks beer bottle over trash container –suddenly we’re in Europe I guess?- and points it at dude) “Sure you don’t wanna rethink that? I came here to shut down stupid ableism and eat french fries, and while I am not entirely out of fries at this moment I will be soon.” Me = not a badass
OMG, you’re right! HOW DID I NOT SEE THIS BEFORE? Thank you, random person! You’ve cured me of my delusions.
Well…well…so’s your face! (cries) Note: this is probably the most likely of all the alternate scenarios
What I actually said was, “Well, that depends on how you look at it, and my son is awesome and very happy.” I’d like to say that I kept up my act-like-they-just-said-the-nicest-thing delivery, but that’s when I started to falter. I turned my attention back to Crow and the dude left.
It’s likely that my actual responses were better than the HULK SMASH, reptile-brain alternatives, not that it probably mattered to Captain Clueless there. So, yeah. That happened. And I wish it didn’t bother me but it does. (enough that there’s ANOTHER DAMN POST about it!)
Shaking it off shaking it off shaking it off. I so want to be the kind of person who isn’t bothered by this.
Everything up to that point today was great. I took the day off to hang out with Crow because school starts next week. We got a new Planes lunchbox, and then went over to campus to ride around on buses and look at all the construction equipment and wander around. We went into (empty) Memorial Church to look at the stained glass, and stretched out on pews to look at the ceiling. Someone was up in the loft practicing on the organ and Crow surprised me by being really into it. Every time she’d stop playing he’d say, “keep going!” or “play again!”
We re-created this shot from last year’s similar Crow/Mommy Day: