Suit Up

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I still haven’t shaken off that jerky encounter from yesterday.

I want to expand on what I said about not wanting to let things like this bother me, because if you don’t live in my awesome world, you may think that people being dicks because my kid stands out is something that happens rarely.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

At the BlogHer Special Needs session, Shannon from Squidilicious said that we need to learn to wear an emotional flak jacket in public. I tend to think of mine as more like body armor.

Last year, I helped chaperone Crow’s class on a field trip to the children’s museum. His sweet young teacher was shocked by some of the rude comments she got from other parents at the museum. She asked me if that happens a lot, and I started to say that it doesn’t but then I realized that it happens all the time but I barely register it at this point. The looks, the little comments made to someone else but loud enough for me to hear, the disapproving head-shakes – they still happen, I’m just not thinking about it.

I think the part of my brain whose job is to generate fucks to give about random people’s approval of my child/parenting has mostly shut down from lack of use.

this is me

this is me

Mostly.

And then something like yesterday happens, where it’s clear that there are people who don’t think I should be out in public with my kid, that we haven’t passed some kind of ‘you must be at least this normal to ride’ bar. And on the one hand, fuck those people gently with a chainsaw, but on the other (the hand without a chainsaw), I’m still capable of feeling shame when someone is trying to make me feel ashamed. Even when they have exactly zero legit reasons for doing so and we have exactly a millionty (¬©Crow) rights to be exactly where we are, doing exactly what we are doing. It still hurts, even if the hurt morphs into anger pretty quickly.

Train!

Gratuitous Pic of Crow on a Train

I said it’s body armor, I didn’t say it’s always effective. It sucks that just being out in public while disabled has to feel like so much disobedience and rebellion. It’s energy I’d rather be putting into other things, but that’s not an option. This is my life now. It’s why breaks like Doobie going to High Sierra Music Festival and me going away to drunkenly craft with my friends in hotel rooms matter so much – it’s a chance to slip the armor off entirely for a while.

Maybe one of my new responses should be to (perkily) ask people who are sharing their wisdom with me if they are familiar with Wheaton’s Law, and if they aren’t, just say, “It’s simple. Don’t Be A Dick.” with a big smile and turn away.

5 thoughts on “Suit Up

  1. Sherry G.

    Yes, I realize my kid is bald. No, he doesn’t have cancer. (Either way, do you think that’s an appropriate question?) No, it’s not from mites or lice. No, he didn’t pull it out. No, he doesn’t have anxiety issues (that’s the other kid). Yes, I have heard of XYZ treatment. No, I really don’t want to try putting honey/tar/bee pollen/whatever on his head. No, it’s not contagious… Fuck it, “Don’t be a dick” works.

  2. Julie

    I’m sorry that random people are rude to you and Crow. It happens to us occasionally too, though often the only people who make nasty comments to us are people that know us. Rarely do strangers say anything. And comments are generally directed at what people perceive to be my poor parenting skills. Obviously when a child is having a non-age appropriate tantrum in public it must be because I have failed as a mother.

    I’ve finally decided that I don’t need to respond to the critics, the people staring at us, or the folks mumbling about us nude their breath. Instead, for every bad encounter I have, I look for an opportunity to give another family a good encounter. I go out of my way to praise a mom who is having fun with her kids, or empathize with a parent who’s kid is in the floor screaming at Target. Somehow it makes me feel like I’ve restored some sort of balance to the universe.

    • Pearl

      Yes! I think there should be an addendum to Wheaton’s Law, to the effect of ‘Strive to be the OPPOSITE of a dick at all times.’

      Maybe that’s easier when you’ve been on the floor at Target a few times yourself.

  3. I once had to have my husband talk to a waitress who had screamed at our son, because, as I told him, “If I go do it, I’m leaving here in handcuffs.”

    It does get so old, doesn’t it? And, as you said, you get to the point where until someone does something scary or really awful you don’t even notice anymore.

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