I found this post in the Autism Reddit today. It's by a mom who had a bad Mother's Day out in public with her autistic son, not because of his behavior so much as the comment from a stranger. I've been this mom and I feel for her. Apart from wanting to tell her that the ice cream probably wasn't doing her son any favors that day, I want to tell her that she's not alone. People can be jerks. Since Isaac was diagnosed I tend to be less judgmental of people with kids melting down in stores, running around like crazy, etc. You just never know the whole story, and giving someone the benefit of the doubt is the kindest thing you can do in that situation. Hold the door for them while they exit with said kicking child, smile, and don't you dare stick your nose in the air like you are parent of the year. Anyway, here is a pretty typical public scenario when trying to take a spectrum kid out to eat:
Isaac will still have moments, like today, where the crowd at the mom to mom sale was a little overwhelming and he felt like and did run for the door without me several times. This is TAME compared to some of our past public incidents...like at library story time. Or how we used to have to avoid play dates too close to ponds, lakes, rivers and the like because he would relentlessly try to get in them. I'm happy to say those days are mostly behind us, and unlike the poor mom who wrote the post on Reddit I had the best Mother's Day ever. Would you like to hear about it? Of course you would.
My last minute husband who usually does little or nothing for this Hallmark holiday decided to get it together this year. Maybe he was feeling appreciative for all I've been through this past year...or maybe he was feeling competitive since I gave him an early Father's Day present already. I had a landscaper come out and do a spring clean up of our large yard- including the scary job of cleaning out the gutters on our two story house. Either way, he managed to make this Mother's Day better than average. He stayed up late the night before and prepped a fancy picnic- including special bread for Isaac. We packed it up and rode our bikes out to our new favorite park on a country road near us. The weather was warm and sunny, the scenery something like a modern Little House on the Prairie. Cute houses spread out between rural stretches of land, mature trees and flowers in bloom, and a perfectly behaved little boy in tow.
We ate our lunch and then Isaac began playing with a nine year old boy at the park. You can always tell an only child, especially if they are psyched to play with other kids- even a 3.5 year old boy pretending to be a crab. And this little boy, Michael, was just such a boy. He put up with Isaac telling him that his name was Isaac Crab and didn't ask why our weird kid would not break character or stop pinching at him. We watched as Isaac happily played games with this boy, climbed without our help, and did all the things almost four year old boys should be able to do. Andrew and I watched and reminisced about how terrified Isaac used to be of play ground equipment- feeling very off-balance by a bridge or frozen with fear while climbing up to a slide thanks to his SPD. Michael gladly pushed Isaac on the swings for as long as he wanted, and during this time they managed to produce the best mother's day present I could have asked for; a conversation. Michael asked Isaac if he had any pets at home to which Isaac told him that he had a caterpillar (totally true). He asked what kind of caterpillar it was and Isaac said it was brown and black. He asked a few more yes or no questions and Isaac answered all of them. My kid was having a conversation with a nine year old boy right before my eyes. Michael never looked to us to clarify what Isaac was saying or what he meant about anything, because he didn't have to. Isaac was, for all intents and purposes, a completely typical 3 year old boy that day. I sat at the picnic table with tears in my eyes. Initiating reciprocal play with other kids and a conversation is the same as diamonds and a massage as far as Mother's Day gifts go for moms of spectrum kids. Best Mother's Day ever was brought to me by Andrew, Isaac, and 9 year old Michael. And for that, I'm grateful. I hope the mom on Reddit gets a Mother's Day this monumental next year.