Can I get a Do-over, please?

Lost my cool yesterday, just for second (but that’s all it takes).  Not that I never have had that happen before.   It was just one of THOSE days, but I wish the little things wouldn’t bother me.  I wish I could always be above them and I could walk around uninfluenced by stupid or mean remarks, but I am FAR from perfect, so I can snap when you push my buttons too many times.

We went to the county fair.  The hubby was volunteering to work the floor in the Woodworking building and had a 3-hour shift, so that meant Micah and me would wander the fair…. Alone.  For 3 hours….  The fair environment is a rather overstimulating place with all the lights, visuals, noises, smells, & people mingling and merging together.  Multiple that by 100, and put all that stimuli  into the brain of a 2-year old with autism and you can imagine how the fair feels to Micah.

 

With that in mind, (and also remembering how last year I tried to juggle a running away toddler AND hold onto the stroller for 2 hours) I had a plan:  Last year I found on the infield area a permanent, playground structure & picnic area.  It was heaven for us!   It was a quiet enough area, away from all the blaring sounds & stimuli, but still allowing my kid to run around, get out some energy/de-stress a little …and to PLAY.  🙂    I was so happy to find this tiny refuge.  I marked this down in my memory logs, and was determined to utilize this place again the following year.
Problem is, it no longer existed.  We went to where the playground was, and….the fair tore it down to put up a zip-line attraction.  🙁      Money always comes first for these places.  Why have a free playground when they can utilize the space with a profit-making ride?  Makes sense for them, but it was a loss for us.  I was counting on this area to help Micah and me tide-the-time till daddy was done with his shift.

My only back-up plan was the ipad.  I brought it to entertain Micah while I browsed through the the different vendors in the halls.  The ipad is a lifesaver. It really is!  Micah likes it.  He will sit STILL in the stroller, transfixed by all the apps, just playing them happily for quite a while.   By focusing on the ipad, he can block out all of the overstimulating stimuli surrounding him.  He can focus just on what is in front of him.    It helps Micah by lengthening the time he can be in this type of environment before he becomes overstimulated, or worse too the point of a meltdown.   I hate to say it, but it’s also one of the few things that will also keep my kid in the stroller (and not running away) every time he sees something interesting, which for him is every 10 seconds.    The other two that can keep him in the stroller are food and sleep.

So, I gave Micah the ipad and we started our journey of killing 3 hours of free time.

It went pretty smooth.  Micah played happily while I pushed him around the exhibits and vendors.  He was also missing his nap this day, so I worried a little that that might push him quicker into over-stimulation, but he seemed to not even notice what was going on outside the stroller.

I did notice what was going on all around us.  I’m pretty observant, more than most people, and it served me well in my career days of Recruiter, HR/Payroll, and Admin Assistant to a research doctor.  Today it was my enemy.  Today I was noticing THE LOOKS and the under-your-breath comments.  Most of the time was pleasant, but as we would pass people some of them would notice Micah in his stroller playing the ipad.  That would follow with a disapproving look and sometimes a comment to whomever the individual was with about how kids nowadays get electronics to entertain themselves.   A few people thought it was a good idea, especially if they were parents themselves, but it was unbelievable the number of elderly individuals that looked at me and mumbled as I walked by as if I were wearing a Parenting Scarlet Letter!

I tried to ignore these people and kept reminding myself that they didn’t know, and it’s natural to judge – we all do it (even if we shouldn’t).  I got by most of the time with this strategy,  but hit my limit of remarks in the gemological showcase area.  Two, elderly women, who were running an exhibit for kids to play with caught a glimpse of Micah and his ipad, and had to say something.  Not quietly either.  They said for all to hear, “Kids nowadays! Playing with all these electronics,… ipads…before they’re even 2.” “Geez!”    I snapped & shouted back, “He has autism & the ipad helps him.”  “It keeps him calm.”    They changed their tune after my remarks and agreed that it was a useful tool & that he was soo smart (though that wasn’t relevant to the topic), but it angered me that I had defended my parenting to someone, that I had to justify what choice I had made,… AND that it was alright once they learned why.    Had Micah not have autism would it still be unacceptable?  Probably yes.

I was disappointed that I got angry and snapped.  I was also disappointed that we are so critical and judging of others.  When will we learn?

We could be a much better community if we just learned to be supportive, not assume, and not being critical when others do things differently from us. Tomorrow’s a new day.  A day to start over.  Let’s try to look for opportunities instead of criticizing, and to educate instead of defending.  I’m not perfect, but I’m gonna try to do better.  I want my kid to be part of that world, a world where we can rise above and care & support.

Here’s to do-overs!  Serving it back at ya.  🙂

 

“Judge not, and you will not be judged…”  – Luke 6:37a

 

“Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. This happened so that the works of God might be revealed in him.” – John 9:3


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