Yesterday we went to the park. My husband’s students had a clean up day in downtown. I had to take the food midday and the monkey went with me. While the students were unloading the food from my car, I was struggling with the monkey. Since his hospital procedure this past Friday, he’d been a little fussy. My husband went to talk to him and assure him that he was fine. Eventually the monkey came over to be on the swings.
During this time, a mom and her two kids arrived and were also playing on the playground.
I was trying to keep the monkey safe since he tends to make a run for the street towards the stop signs, and I was also trying to help with the food for the students that I was pretty preoccupied.
Eventually the students decided to play kick ball and moved towards the baseball field. I stayed behind organizing the food.
Then the lady with the two kids comes over and asked me if this was my son. I excitedly said yes. Thinking we’d start a conversation about how old our kids are, you know, the usual playground mom talk.
Then she asked me, “What’s wrong with him?”
And that question stopped me on my tracks. It caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting her to be so blunt. Most people tippy toe towards the question. They aren’t this direct.
I asked her, “What do you mean?”
And she asked, “Isn’t he in special ed?”
And my heart broke.
How does one reply to that? How does someone think that’s ok to ask? And to a complete stranger?
I told her, “He has autism.”. And she replied,. “Oh, I see.”
And then she tells her kids it’s time to go and she quickly leaves. The situation became uncomfortable and it felt like she just wanted to get away as fast as possible.
I tried to ignore her questions so I went over with the students. The monkey wasn’t having it though. Too many people, too much screaming, he was done. So I told my husband I’d be leaving now.
On the drive home the tears stated to pour down my face. And I hate the fact that I can let complete strangers define my day. Before this, I was thinking how proud of the monkey I was. By simply getting out of the car and going to the park, even though there was a lot of kids and a lot of noise, he was being so brave. He had to overcome his sensory issues and he even enjoyed himself a bit. I felt he did it because he knew what I was asking of him. I felt his “Ok mom, I will try” mood was taking over.
And then this lady comes over and with a few words just breaks me. 💔
And I know we shouldn’t care what other people say, and I know we tell our kids to ignore the rumors or ignore the gossip because it doesn’t really matter.
But it does. It does hurt.
There was an accident coming back so it took forever to get home with all the traffic. It took me almost twice as long to get home and the monkey was starting to get fussy. I kept trying to calmn him down. I would reach over and massage his legs and tell him we’ll be home soon. He would take a deep breath and would stop complaining.
He tried to be patient because that’s what I was asking of him.💙
When my husband came home I told him what happened. And he stayed quiet. I could feel his hurt as well. And then I told him, “What I love about all of this is that at least the monkey doesn’t understand.”
And he said that that was exactly what he was thinking. Because if the monkey knew what people were saying, we’d think this would be a lot more difficult to take.
And then I remember how my morning started. My husband had left early to pick up students for the downtown cleanup initiative, and my daughter had left early since she had to go to work. I didn’t even realize they both had left.
And do you know how I was woken up?
I felt little lips on my cheeks.
I woke up with kisses from my monkey. ❤️
He was trying to wake me up because he wanted something to drink. And that is how he thought was the best way to do it. 😍
And these are the situations that mend my heart back together. Because in the end, he is what matters most. 💙