Monday, September 27, 2010

The Jackassery of Others

Who are you to judge the life I live? I know I'm not perfect, and I don't live to be. But before you start pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.
--Bob Marley

This is my third attempt to write this entry. Sometimes an issue is difficult to write about--but I had no idea how hard this one would be.

Today's entry is about other people. People who are…well…douchebags. Many of these people are people who do not have, nor do they know any kids with Autism. Some of them also happen to think they are the best parents around. And some of them don’t even want kids, but yet esteem their own opinion of parenting and all the strategies they read about once in a People magazine while waiting to get their nails done. Some of them are even parents of Special Needs kids, but have a system they "swear" by, and no other strategy matters. Most of them are people who, I must assume, have never had, in the old terms, any "home training". (that's southern for manners, y'all)

Parents of kids with Autism, or any variety of explosive disorders already know where I'm going.

Yeah, I'm talking to you miss Snooty McSnicker and your gang of giggling cohorts. And to you Frowny McWrinkly and your narrow nose of disapproval. And especially to you, Angie Mcstagewhisper, who feel it is necessary to voice your opinion just loud enough to hear, even if it is hurtful and ignorant. You are one of the reasons I had to give up coffee and start drinking chamomile tea. YOU are the reason I am angry 70% of the time and YOU are the reason this country is going to hell in handbasket dressed with fireproof ribbons!

*takes a deep breath*

(Disclaimer: yes I know this isn't a phenomenon limited to parents of kids with special needs--Typical parents experience it too. Perhaps not as commonly as we do, but they can get it too--especially if their kid is having a bad day. I get that. Its just that our kids have bad days A LOT, so this topic is near and dear.)

My question to these people is this: Who the hell are you?

Yeah, I know it's annoying that my kid is crying in the middle of Ralphs. And I suppose you think I should "just leave" so that you can buy your processed foods in peace, instead of enduring my kid for maybe 10 minutes of your life, while I have to deal with him all day? Or that I should just give him whatever it is he wants to "shut him up", because it is somehow smarter to spoil a kid and teach him to be a tyrant? Or better yet, that I have "spared the rod" and therefore have a child with poor training.

(and these are just the things I've heard)

Ok, you say--why let the comments of others bother you? Sure, why don't I just go out in public and let people say nasty things to me and just let it slide off my back? Yes, I know their opinions don't matter. Yes, i know they're just uneducated eejits with no sense of propreity. And yes, i know i shouldn't worry about the opinions of people whom i do not respect. (contrary to some of their voiced and unvoiced opinions, i'm not the moron here) But I challenge you with this: you step out every day and have at least one stranger say something negative to you, and never hear a positive thing from any of those strangers, and then tell me to just pour a cocktail and ignore what others say.

*gets the shaker ready*

Look, you deal with something enough, occasionally you gotta say something. If people keep cutting you off in traffic, eventually you flip someone off. If someone cuts in line repeatedly at Disneyland, eventually, they get the beat down. If the bartender keeps ignoring your empty glass, chances are his tip will no longer find it's way underneath your coaster. It's the American sense of "karma" (not really how it works, but the idea tends to keep some people in check) So if I hear one more unsolicited comment about the character of my child or how to raise him, I may have to open up a can of economy sized verbal whoop-ass. It’s really just an effort to keep sane, really. It has nothing to do with the fact that you're an asshole.

You know, now that I think about it, I think I've held my tongue plenty of times when it would have been funny and hurtful to say somehting. I think it was enough to warrant a little tit for tat. So perhaps you will let me share a few thoughts I kept to myself over the past few years:

--You do NOT look good in that top--in fact it makes you look like a tramp. Would Jackie O be caught dead with camel toe? Then neither should you.

­ --What, did you spend the morning eating paste?

­ --No, I'm sorry, your kid isn't that cute. In fact, he's a little bug-eyed.

­ --Seriously--you're letting your kid have ANOTHER ice cream cone? Mix in a salad for chrissakes.

­ --Nice work. Can I take a day to suck at your job, too?

­ --Why don't we save some time and just send you home to re-dress yourself.

See? The world is much nicer if we just keep these things to ourselves--or at least blog about them in an anonymous fashion so that the original recipient isn't hurt or insulted. By all means--take a moment and update your FB status with your opinion about my parenting, but maybe you can remember your good manners and keep your comment there, and not 2 feet from my ear--loud enough to hear but just out of striking range? Coward.

Or better yet--here's an idea: take a moment and think about what that mom or dad is dealing with. It might be bigger than anything you've ever had to deal with. And it probably does not have an instant off switch to make your world more peaceful. And realize this, if you are annoyed by it, I'd say it's a good guess that the parents DIRECTLY DEALING WITH IT are annoyed as well.

I don't know--maybe it's the Midwest upbringing. I mean, I was taught that if you don't have anything nice to say, keep it to yourself. That includes all opinions and views on Jesus too. That's why G-d created liquor--to keep your mouth busy. It was one thing to think all manner of things about parents of whom you do not approve, but it was a social taboo to state it out loud in their presence. hell, i remember any time my grandmother would say ANYTHING about someone else, she had the decency to wait until she got home (or in the car) and even then she STILL whispered it as if the taboo police were right outside. To make a remark that could be heard by ALL was a sign of "poor breeding" or "lack of home training" and was the one thing that would single you out as white trash. That and the dirty cut offs with a torn monster truck rally tee. And a sixer of Natty light.

I've noticed it in the last few years--the uprising of rudeness. I mean, it's one thing to stop in the middle of a grocery aisle not allowing anyone to pass while you peruse the choice of Jell-o flavors, but we are way beyond that now. There is some sort of entitlement/my opinion is the most important/how dare you drink milk in my presence attitude that has taken over. And it is this attitude that seems to justify people telling me or any other stranger around that my child is monster.

So here's the deal, douchbags. If I ever turn to you while my son is screaming his head off for a chocolate milk I would never let him have in the first place, and ask you, "what do you think of this situation?" you will then be free to regale me of all opinions, bible verses, song lyrics and casserole recipes that you think are appropriate at that moment. Because I would have asked for it. Until then, shut it.

I can't stop the looks and the frowny head waggles, and while it may bug me, at least you are keeping your mouth shut until I am gone. And good for you for trying to have some semblance of manners. I cannot teach you compassion. I only hope that at some point in your life, you will learn some, and maybe instead of judging me, you'll pat me on the back, make a joke, or even pour me a drink. Until then, I can only model the behavior that would be helpful at that moment, and then later eviscerate you online. Yeah, I'm talking about you, miss picklepuss at Ralph's last Friday, over by the eggs. And btw, that top made you look ten pounds heavier AND a middle aged tramp--which is no mean feat.

As I come down from this well deserved tyrade, I am reminded of an old lesson. Having recently returned to some of my Wiccan habits, I remind myself daily of the one basic teaching, or rede: "an if it harm none, do what ye will". Similar lessons exist in all religions. So here's a thought: maybe it would benefit us all to return to the spirit of that lesson and just give everyone a break. Odds are, they've got their own issues to deal with, just like you do. Ain't nobody got the right answer, because everyone has their own paradigm to live. So ease up a little, eh? And move your friggin' cart over when you stop in an aisle at the grocery, for petesakes.


She's Lost Angeles said...

A-freaking-men. I have nothing but sympathy for parents who are trying to deal with a meltdown, because they have to deal with it - I don't.

Empathy trumps entitlement, people.

I have stopped and complimented one or two people for the grace under pressure they've shown when their child - special needs or not - went nuclear. I hereby resolve to do that more.

Anonymous said...

Amen. I was just counseling a friend of mine who was pissed at a coworker who made some non-work related, jack*ss comment. I reminded my friend that everyone has crap they are dealing with and sometimes they accidentally throw that crap out at someone else. My friend reflected and then said, "Well, that coworker is having problems with his wife," yada, yada, yada. My friend's pissy mood started to deflate.

Sometimes, we just gotta cut people some slack.

(And, yes, please, move your friggin' cart over!!!!!)


Anonymous said...

*Stands up clapping* WELL SAID!

Janet said...

This is such an amazingly true post that I may have to print it and store it in my wallet! Very well said!

Heather said...

love love love it. it's what we're all feeling but don't always get it out there. Thank you for posting this!

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