I know that look on your face because I’ve worn it plenty of times…

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Yesterday, while at the park, I noticed a woman with a child just about Jp’s age. The first thing that I saw was that she was in helicopter-mom-low-hover mode. She kept looking around, as if to see who was watching, with this extremely strained smile on her face the whole time.

She was apologizing every few minutes to everyone around her.

You see, while her son was beautiful, tow headed with curls, he had some atypical body movements that I picked up on right away. He seemed to pay little heed to what she was saying and continually was using the equipment in ways that it wasn’t intended. His social cues were nearly non-existent, barreling into other kid’s faces with no cognition that it wasn’t appreciated, and he made little noises that were slightly “off”.

I was looking at fellow special needs mom and one that was still very uncomfortable in her own skin.

I cannot explain it any better than to say that I could read the look on her face like an old, familiar book because I had felt every emotion that she was feeling in that particular moment. She was a mom that just wanted to take her son to the park like every other mom on the planet but felt slightly out of place amidst all of the seemingly perfect moms with Starbucks cups and designer strollers (you really would have to see our neighborhood park in person to believe it, it is like something straight out of a Parenting magazine article, probably the cover for that matter) with their perfect children in adorable jumpers that actually listened, albeit imperfectly, but could, at least, understand. Children yelling for their moms to ‘look’, ‘push me’,  and ‘come here’!

My little heart went out to her as I watched her divert and apologize, divert and apologize, over and over again.

I have so been there. When Jp was younger, nothing -absolutely nothing– that I said verbally got in. I would run around like a madman, doing my best to keep him out of the way of others, off of the bottom of the slide that other kids were actually using correctly, and having to explain how to take turns fruitlessly and met with tantrums. I was always full of grand apologies coupled with fleeting moments of embarrassment and those times where I wouldn’t know whether or not to explain why he was doing what he was because the other moms just seemed so annoyed with the fact that I couldn’t “control” my own child. Even in that exact moment that I was watching her, Jp was standing in the middle of a group of moms, doing his usual awkward social standard of hanging out with strange women (Hello? Kidnap me, much?), and interrupting their afternoons. Though, I am pretty lucky in one respect: my kid is a stone cold cutie, and while it may be the most uncomfortable thing ever for me…the other moms seem to think it’s sweet and funny now.

For a moment, it was kind of a tough call for me. I wanted to say something to her. I didn’t want her to have to feel the way she was obviously feeling in that moment with another mom that understood standing 5 feet away. It is a lonely place, at times, being around other tiny children that remind you of how different your child is. At home, they are your baby, and that is all that there is and all that you know. But out in the world…you can see with crystal clarity where they lack certain characteristics that other children so glaringly have. While I am a million miles away from that feeling of isolation (thank you, blog) I could plainly see that she wasn’t yet. Though I didn’t want to just bombard up to her and blurt out, “Hey, couldn’t help but notice that your child was different, you wanna be besties for life?”

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So I had to play it cool and do my best not to offend her in the process. Who wants someone to out-and-out say that they noticed that your child is different? Is there a nicer way to go about it? Being new to this territory, I just handled it like I always do in meeting new people (and I have never been renowned for my tact)…

I took a breath, walked up, and spat something out (Lord, what, I don’t remember) and hoped for the best (Is that not how everyone does it?).

As soon as I introduced myself and Jp and told her about our issues, that woman opened up like a dam breaking after a storm. Don’t get me wrong, she was really nice about it, but you could tell she was just grateful to have someone to talk to about her son that understood terms like Speech Pathology, ABA, OT, ECI, and expressive language. She told me that he had Fragile X Syndrome and that they had just recently found out for certain. He has incredible speech difficulties but their pediatrician just kept telling them not to worry that he would catch up (what is with Pediatricians and saying that?) so she is still just finding her footing as a mom with a label. She hasn’t been in Austin long -as she just moved back from Florida (weird, huh?)- and no one in her family knows anything about special needs children so she’s processing this all alone with her husband. She says she is mostly met with pity to which I replied, “For what?!”, and that made her laugh for the first time since I saw her. Pity is the one thing you never, ever show a brand new special needs mom. She needs strength, she needs encouragement, and the one thing she does NOT need is pity.

She is still in that phase where she keeps him home all of the time and he rarely interacts with other kids. Which I totally and completely understand. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt. So, I told her that Jp and I would love to have some play dates with them! Both of our rambunctious boys love pools and splash pads (both right around the corner, too) so I think that they will get along just fine. Besides, I feel like it is part of my journey to help someone who is still struggling out, where and when I can, and pay forward all of the love and support I have received here, right? Who, out of all of my lovely mommies, wouldn’t do the same?

As she was trying to write down my number by our cars, her son was becoming agitated and kept trying to dart into the street (he is a total little handful) and so I scooped him up, pulled him into me backwards really tight, and bounced him.

He calmed right down.

She was aghast, “How did you do that?!” and all I could tell her was that it worked for Jp when he was younger. Then I showed her how to hold him like that without making him feel trapped. Even if I never hear from her again, at least I got to teach her one trick that I have up my sleeve, so that is a wonderful feeling.

I may not know a ton yet about her son’s disability but I do know that I can’t watch another mom struggle or see a child not have a friend. Maybe that is another one of my superpowers, huh?

funny-dog-pictures-wtf-mom

 Photo Credit:

realmomshelpingrealmoms.blogspot.com

memegenerator.com

 forum.xbitlabs.com

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Amber Perea View All →

I'm just living minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day.

27 Comments Leave a comment

  1. You are amazing Amber. Your heart is sooo big. I don’t even know what else to say, except that you are amazing. I bet that woman is so grateful to have met you…..just like all of your blogging buddies are as well:))) Beautiful story. Love it.

    • Thank you, Michelle! But I don’t really think it was that amazing lol. You can’t really tell that Jp has special needs in that environment and I just wanted her to know she’s not alone. I know everyone doesn’t have bad-a blogging buddies like me to make them feel better when they are feeling weak. 🙂

      You rock.

  2. Way to go, Texas! You will probably never realize the full impact of your actions. There is nothing worse than feeling like you are all alone while facing adversity, and you just threw her a life preserver.
    I heart you so hard right now.

    • Thanks Cookie! At first I was worried I’d be intruding but when she started talking about not having anyone to talk to about it I was really glad I took the plunge.

      It’s crazy to think that wacko ol’ me would ever impact someone’s life lol. 🙂

  3. “Hey, couldn’t help but notice that your child was different, you wanna be besties for life?” <— Ha ha! I had to chuckle picturing you doing this. Psycho much? Hey, btw, we're not all mommies you know!!?

    Good for you though for being nice to this poor woman. She'll get the hang of mothering soon enough I'm sure.

  4. Bless you for stepping up and being a much needed friend for her. It may not have been me that directly benefited, but I still feel the encouragement and am grateful for your actions. : )

    I also have to say I couldn’t help but laugh at your comment ” ‘Hey, couldn’t help but notice that your child was different, you wanna be besties for life?” as I had a similar encounter last Saturday where a similar phrase went through my head. haha

    I was stationed at the art show while a family event was going on in the park the gallery is located in so I couldn’t leave my post. I couldn’t help but notice the sweetest boy though being pulled around in his family wagon, batting at a toy, holding the phone upside down and backwards to his ear, giggling, and flapping his hands repeatedly. While the others that noticed him were making faces and avoiding the family, I was grinning from ear to ear while waving at the boy and hoping I could catch the parents’ attention in hopes of making a new friend. I even went as far as asking one of the volunteers to see if they would ask that family specifically to come see the art show. haha My thought was to just get them close enough to the gate that I can say hi without getting in trouble for leaving my post. lol : )

  5. I was in the ER around midnight with my allergic reaction and hives covering my entire body with my hubby nervously waiting our turn. A very young new mother had a newborn in a carseat with RSV and the baby kept gagging and choking. The grandmother was there, trying to keep them both calm, and help out. There I was covered in hive heaven, and I whispered to them to roll a small blanket and place it under the baby’s shoulder blades while sitting in the carseat…that the position of the windpipe and tilt of her skull up would help free the drainage and blockage. The baby had been crying and gagging for the hours we were there, and in just a few minutes, the baby was more quiet and you could hear productive breathing. Everyone in that room acted like I had leprosy, except that little group of gals…they were desperate for any help, and I usually would never have spoken up, but my foster babies have definitely taught me newborn care. Makes you stop and wonder how many others out there are running around clueless and desperate and trying to act like they have it all together. Definitely changed how reserved I am…I’m an open book of advice if I see someone struggle. The worst they can do is chew me out. The best…a clearer vision. You go girl! Look at your playground mom skills now! You’re going to have to watch out…you’re going to have a line waiting for advice one of these days!

    • That is so cool! As a newborn mother onto it first…you don’t know jack except you love the heck outta them and they’re cute. Way to go, momma!

      Developmental delays or autism or social communication disorder or whatever it ends up being called are like having a newborn all of the time, right? Until they learn to communicate properly its all trial and error. We have to band together! 🙂

      Thanks for sharing such a cool story!

  6. I just love love love “pay it forward” stories! I am an Educational Consultant for a children’s book company and to the average eye – I sell kids books. But oh my…it is sooooo much more!! I get to do book readings at all kinds of events and play with kids at book parties, home shows and school/library book fairs while the parents look through our books. And while I did join originally to get a discount on my childrens books – and then stuck around to make money at it – it is SO much bigger now! I LOVE meeting parents (especially with special needs kiddos)! It is so much fun to meet different parents and children and learn about them and their stories!! It is often disheartening when I come across parents who think books and reading just aren’t important – but I mostly go home with a new smile attached to my heart and memories that make me who I am. And because of people like you that will step forward to make a difference – there are a ton of low self esteem parents out there that make it through some of the hardest days. That is what I hope I achieve when I talk to people too. It isn’t just about selling books – it’s about changing the lives of children and making impressions on people that will last a life time. ❤ Nice story!

    • Thank you! I grew up with my nose in a book but can’t seem to get Jp to latch onto them. As a professional, do you have any recommendations for children that seem to have no interest? Something that has wild pictures or would appeal to boys without being too long winded? (Kids with receptive language disorders can’t always understand the plot and so they don’t care for books).

  7. Absolutely Amber! Depending on his age – I can definitely recommend a few books. But in a nutshell – I will say that it sounds like he would enjoy what I call “colorful words” books. In my experience there are 3 types of reading books – basically – for children: Chapter books – 90-100% words (maybe a few pics or drawings thrown in every 100 pages or so. Picture books (or Early Readers) – 90-100% pictures (maybe a few sight words or easy reader words at the bottom or tops of pages. And what I call Colorful Words books – these are books with pictures and reading all throughout and not necessarily in any specific pattern….think “comic book”…but a bit more educational. How old is Jp? And what types of things is he interested in? I’ll send a few recommendations based on that.

    And in the mean time – think about starting a “reading time” every night – even if it is only 15 minutes!! You would be amazed at how much he will learn and connect with you if you read to him! No matter how old he is. Mine are 21 months, 11 years and 13 years – and I read to all of them! Think about this: “Reading aloud builds higher reading scores because listening comprehension comes before reading comprehension. If you’ve never heard a word, its unlikely you’ll every say it. So how are you going to read it and write it? ” Just one of the reasons I feel it is so important to read to your kiddos – especially those that don’t like to read on their own. Food for thought. 😉

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