I have a lovely son. He is over excitable and finds it difficult to cope in crowds. As a result, we tend to stay away from crowds as much as possible when we go out to minimise any problems.
One weekend, I decided to treat my children to the park. It was busier than I would have liked it to be, but we stayed anyway. My middle son is highly excitable and will tend to get overexcited and struggle to cope. Many things will set him off. If he is teased by other children he will hit, and kick, or punch and swear. If he is bullied by other children verbally, or physically, he will hit back. The problem is that he is usually retaliating for something that has happened that few have seen, and his loud retaliation means that he gets caught.
I am not complaining about other children, because children will be children, and in the main, most ARE cruel while they learn the rules of life. What bothers me is how the grown ups react to situations, and how they deal with things. I could write a thousand blogs on this subject.
Back to the park at that weekend. There was a little girl and she had a tractor with her. it was one of those pull along things, and quite big for her. My middle child, being tractor obsessed decided to sit on it. At first the grown up smiled, and said nothing so my middle son carried on, and I smiled back (it was a dad, there with several other mums and dads).
Just as I was about to rescue the tractor from my boy, my youngest fell out of the large climbing frame for older children, so I quickly glanced at the two of them, and decided youngest needed my help more than middlie as he was still sitting on the tractor and safe with parents watching. I made a judgement, as you do, and ran over to see how the little one was. Thankfully he was okay.
After brushing littlie down and standing him up, I suddenly become aware of shouting, and turn round just in time to see the “dad” wrestling with my middlie who has the wheel of the tractor firmly tucked around his arms. My luvverly son decides to call this man all sort of “choice” pet names that come with the territory when children start school. I hear the dad shout loudly to my child “stop it, you are upsetting my daughter.”
I run back over, and free my son from the wheel of the tractor, just as he swings out his leg and aims a whopping kick at said dad, and it connects with his lower shin. Middlie is still calling him names and I am dragging him away from the scene. The Dad shouts after me and tells me it is obvious where they get their manners from. Excuse me, did I say anything, and well, sorry if I was so busy pulling my child off you and calming him down, that I didn’t get to say sorry in person.
So there you have it. I am the bad mum who has taught her child all these “wonderful things.” A woman approaches me afterwards while I am holding onto one child and trying to gather up two others. My legs are being kicked and the head is trying to bite my arms. Lots of parents are tut tutting around me, and I know that it is one more story for them to add to their little black book of my son and his inappropriate behaviour.
The parent who approaches me said she felt that the dad over reacted to the situation as it turns out the little girl had come over and tried to pull my son off the tractor. He, as toddlers do, decided he was not moving and stuck his heels in. The dad had told him to get off the tractor and that he was too big for it and had taken hold of the wheel and said “off”.
My son is a toddler in his brain only. The problem with him is that on the outside, he looks like any other child in upper primary school. Would the dad have treated him so abruptly if he had the facial features of a downs syndrome child? I think not. He would then have thought about the words he was going to use, and spoken in a softer, more calming voice, and my son would not have been set off into a tantrum.
The easiest excuse is to always blame the parents. And if i really approved of the swearing and the kicking, wouldn’t I have been joining in with him in swearing at you.
I do realise that you cannot know he had learning difficulties, but when a four foot five boy sits on a toy tractor and smiles at you, it kind of gives you a hint. There are a few lovely parents around here, but we are mostly avoided by other parents in our area, and there are many children who are not allowed to come and play in our house, in case my middle son offends them. That is their choice and their loss.
My son cannot control the damage in his brain, anymore than someone with a physical disability can. To let you know how affected he is, he still cannot write his name. His language receptors are perfect, however, and the wonderfully perfect children who never put a foot wrong in their parents eyes, are the wonderful little darlings who teach him all the swear words in the first place. He mimics them, but unlike neuro-typicals, he does not have the control tower in his brain to tell him that what he thinks in his head, should stay in his head. It all comes blurting out. Master and Miss Perfect whisper them behind titters and giggles, knowing that they would not get away with using them in front of a teacher or grown up, or another child.
Anyway, back to the park. On the way out, with middle child firmly held around the arm, I decide to apologise to the parent of the little girl, only for him to turn his back on me and my child. My comment was along the lines of, my son has a disability, but what’s your excuse?” Ok, maybe I should have dragged him off the tractor as soon as he went on to it, and yes I do take the blame for that.
Yes I am a bad mummy. And my bad mummy promises and expectations to everyone are these:
- I won’t hide my child away so you and your children won’t be offended.
- I will apologise for my child, only when I have calmed him down. HE is my main priority.
- I DO expect you to treat my child with respect, even if you don’t like what he does.
- I do NOT expect you to tell me that I need to read Gina Ford, or take parenting classes.
- I will NOT take kindly to you telling me that my child needs a good whack / has no discipline / shouldn’t be out on the streets.
- I expect you to understand that not all disabled children look disabled, and if in doubt, ask the other parent.
- I expect you to protect your own child, but NOT to ridicule mine in the process.
So there you have it, I AM a bad mummy in the eyes of many in the general population who see our family out and about. I am learning to care less and less about what they say, and how they stop and stare when he acts inappropriately for his age. Would they stare at a physically disabled child? Perhaps they would. I have many more examples that I will post as I get time. It really is eye opening.
Just remember, that only by the grace of a lucky genetic experience, these insufferable people are not the parents of a child just like mine.