Thursday, November 17, 2011

McDonalds Tears and Triupmphs

Today, I spontaneously headed to McDonalds with three friends and their kids (three ladies whom I lovingly refer to as "my bermuda triangle"...we have stood in church gyms for hours after activities, sat in parking lots, til our husbands wondered if we'd ever return...yup,  when we get chatting we just don't stop!)
And despite totally forgetting about an appointment I had, I had such a great afternoon.

Now, McDonalds has not always granted me such happy memories.

Aaron has been diagnosied now for just over three years (I remember because the day we met for the offical pediatriacan appointment, I was in labour with McKye!)

That's three years of trips to McDonald's.
Aaron loves McDonald's. Loves it almost too much. 
Let's see, he regularly snatches fries from random tables. He's stolen sips of people's pop. 
He never wears socks, which is hard for little rule keepers, "But mommy THAT little boy isn't wearing HIS socks!!!!" (You see Aaron is a rule keeper too, and his rule is either socks AND shoes or both off!) His latest trick is spitting pop on the floor, mesmerized by the little puddles. But he also loves to sneak up and give random people hugs, mostly ladies with long hair. Although he has hugged the occasional rough-gruff grandpa (he likes beards too!) and once or twice as I pull him off  with an awkward "Opps, hugs for strangers day!" I've thought I saw a tear forming in some lonely person's eye, and I think, man sometimes social restraints really prevent us from giving each other what we need. 

Well a family today was not so "touched" by my sons behaviour. They were down right annoyed.

Honestly, I was having such a great time chatting that I wasn't as vigilant as I normally am at play places that experience has proven so precarious.

My one friend, who has developed quite the soft spot for my little man (every time she heard us do his little primary part, found in the middle of this post, she admitted choked up every time!) was the one that noticed they were getting a little fed up. I had pulled him down off their bench a few times, had tuned jut in time to hear the other mother saying "those aren't yours buddy" as he snatched some fresh fries, to which I went and bought him some more, which probably made him look incredible spoiled (even though my kids never even get happy meals).

I could tell my friend was frustrated that they didn't understand.
And I totally get where she's coming from, because I was there for a long time.

Right after Aaron was diagnosed it coloured EVERYTHING. Every odd action or non-response (oh how many cute little grandmas and grandpa's would try and make small talk with him in the shopping cart: "Uh-oh someone's not very chatty today!" "Nope not today." Or ever.

I felt like I had to jump in and make sure everyone understood. He has Autism everybody! 
I just wanted to shout. I would constantly be deliberating when I was going to jump on my soap box and give them my little speel. Me trying to match some still forming ideal of what it meant to be an "advocate". When I got tired of dropping "A" bombs, I found myself actually considering t-shirts like this:

. Because, I see now I was so afraid  Afraid that if they didn't know the right "whys", the obvious other explaination was that I was a "bad mom". But the flaw here is facing the world as the enemy, assuming everyone is harsh and judging...which in this journey I've discovered just simply IS NOT TRUE. 

Sure there's some ignorance. (My fav was some one who asked if he had a little "tism" of a lot.) But there's lots of diseases and disordered I know nothing about...because we can't all know and experience everything. We just need to assume everybody is doing there best.

Today I thought back to what I see now as a very insecure, new mother, which honestly, until today I didn't think I'd made much head-way with. I could have gone over and given an "excuse me my son is actually autistic" speech (which has lead to some really positive experiences in the past), but at that point it would have been for me, and it would have just made them feel bad. So I didn't. And I didn't go away flustered or aggravated, it was okay that those particular strangers thought I was the mother of a spoiled brat, who doesn't listen, because I know that's not the case.

Three years ago I couldn't have done that, I didn't. I have very vivid memories of leaving the exact same McDonalds in heaving sobs, so mortified and feeling so abnormal that I couldn't even take my little boy, who loves McDonalds to go get fries with out emotional upheaval!

But then I took McKye once when I was pregnant with Levi, and Aaron was at school. Chasing a 23 month old, 8 months pregnant is...challenging? nope it's impossible! McKye was going through his "hitting" phase (I wonder if we'll ever leave that phase?) and some lady came up all confrontation "Your kid just punched my little girl in the face!" (which he hadn't, I'd been watching the whole time, there'd been some age-appropriate and mutual-mauling, but of course my boy was the perpetrator.) I felt very pregnant and very picked on and me and McKye left in tears.

And that's when I realized. All our kids are special. Nobody truly "understands" or knows any of my kids, like I do. And that's okay. Because they have me. And when the world thinks, their weird or quirky or undisciplined, I think they're perfect, cuz they're mine. And we all deserve someone to think we're the best. Our confidence in our kids helps them decide, huh maybe I am capable. (Which I realize is exactly what my friends do for me! If I'd been alone in McDonald's this post may have been a lot different. Almost like because my friend cared so much, I felt secure enough not to care what others thought.)

So to the me three years ago, bawling her eyes out in the parking lot wiping her nose with rough McDonalds napkins smelling of ketchup--

chin up girlie. Today it matters. it matters so much. And then one day (November 16th, 2011) you'll suddenly realize, it doesn't any more. And you'll realized, all this time when you thought you were spinning your wheels, you we're growing and becoming stronger. That doesn't mean you won't ever leave McDonalds in tears again, I'm sure you will, but today you didn't. 
You walked out not caring if some lady thought you were the worst, cuz your too happy you have such great friends who know and love you and your kids. And today that was all that mattered.


So this is a great deleted scene form the movie "Snow Cake".  Alan Rickman goes to try and clear his conscience of a fatal accident and ends up staying with the victims mother, who has autism. Sigouney Waver, I thought did such a good job portraying autism in a less stereotypical Rain Man type way .

                                       JUST WATCH FROM minute 2 to 5.


Andy said...Best Blogger Tips

Autism or not - Natalie eats off other people's trays all the time. Why not?! In fact one time when I lost her at Costco, I found her sitting at a table eating fries and drinking someones drink while they put ketchup on their hot dog! Oops!
I think it's more about the adults in the situation than the kids. Really, would I care if some kid came and helped himself to some of my fries? No way! ( and I think that's how most people are...) But for the few who arent'... it's really too bad because their missing out on an experience to make someone else happy. Because really.... what is happier than fresh, hot french fries!!

p.s. If Aaron hadn't shared my fries and pop I'd have been totally wounded. I loved getting to know him while he stayed here and it was hard to give him back to his real and totally amazing mother.... I might be a bit jealous... just sayin'.

cc said...Best Blogger Tips

Well, andy pretty much said it all, so I'll just say DITTO...and I love you:)

Chelsea Belle said...Best Blogger Tips

Thanks ladies...yup amazing, supportive friends, alright.

Melissa said...Best Blogger Tips

Yea, in pretty sure I can't say it better then Andrea! But I adore your little boys and admire what an amazing mother and person you are.

It's such a nice reminder to just hear that we really don't need to worry what others think, cuz usually they do not have the full story or know the circumstances of the situation they are judging.

I'm really grateful for the amazing example you are to me.

yoga mamma said...Best Blogger Tips

I once was sitting on the bus and I was the person staring. The man was enjoying his juice so much; he gulped each gulp like he had never had juice before. He made it look so delicious. I drifted off to my imaginary world (still staring) thinking how wonderful it would be to enjoy such a mundane action, truthfully, whole heartily and in the moment. I was then the person who got the speech about the man and how it was terrible that people always stare, and she was so sick of it. I wanted to tell her so badly that I was enjoying the scene, loving how happy he was...but instead I turned a nice shade of red...
I think most people are just jealous that they have to wear socks and are not allowed to eat hot fries off someone else's plate, because who are we kidding...we all want to do that.

Chelsea Belle said...Best Blogger Tips

we're suppose to wear socks Juli???

Really Aaron teaches me so much about truly having joy in life.

I think I stare....or watch coyly as I special needs people MORE now that I have Aaron actually, because I'm interested in what they think and feel and if they're happy or lonely.

If I would have caught you "staring" at Aaron in McDonald's I'm sure we would of ending up having a lovely chat Juli...because your such a lovely person!
thanks for your comment.