If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “But he doesn’t really even look autistic.” Usually, it ticks me off…. Today however, he looked the part. Given the chance to dress himself for the local high school show choir performance he decided that his plaid shorts matched a totally different plaid shirt then added a blue stripped tie for good measure. “Don’t I look handsome, mama?” “Yes baby, you look very nice.” “Mom, did you notice I even have my TIE SHOES on?” “How could I miss them Steve, how could I miss those beautiful bright blue sneakers with laces!”
So in he walked to the event he had NO INTEREST in going to. He walked in with his “nice clothes,” tie and a stack of Captain Underpants books. “I know mom, no screen time in a dark theatre.” HE HAS GOT THIS, I said in my head.
He waited patiently while the older people coming to the show voiced their issues with having to be bothered to wait in a line BEHIND those people who had been waiting for over an hour for the first come first served general admission seats. Steve followed all the rules. He kept his hands to himself. He didn’t throw a fit, not even once. He didn’t even spill his pizza or lemonade he ate in line. Steve was VERY VERY well behaved. Yeah sure, he got kinda excited when he saw his sister’s idol/role model we came to see…. that was nothing compared to what he could have been doing.
Yet still… someone complained.
Let me mention here by the way, this was not opening night at 8pm. This was the afternoon Sunday matinee at 2pm. Which I purposely chose because I know my son is autistic and has issues. Just wanted to say that because even if my kid HAD no issues….. there were plenty of them there that were being way more wiggly than my Steve… just saying. Sunday matinee, don’t you expect more “younger” people in attendance.
So yes… i digress…. someone complained.
A very handsome gentleman in a black Tuxedo who meant well approached me and let me know that it is my duty to try and keep my children quieter during the performance.
I looked at him, (yes, I was thinking he must mean the two kids that were in the row behind us that got up and moved around in the row bumping my chair at least 4 times) and I said, “I’m sorry, I don’t think i heard you correctly.”
He says to me, “someone around you has issued a complaint that your son has been disruptive to the performances and asked if I could help keep him quieter.”
I said, “Oh, this kid, my son sitting right here reading a BOOK?” “Yes.” He said kindly. “I know this is awkward but we really do like to show the performers the respect they deserve.” “Well,” I responded, “I’d like my autistic son to be respected as well when he is behaving the best he can during a very LONG performance. Please tell the person I am sorry they are disappointed that my son who has autism isn’t living up to their standards.” The man looked at me clearly not knowing what to say…. said…” Well, I understand, please just do the best you can.” I responded, “I always do, sir, I always do.”
This bothered Steve, more than I thought it would. He was upset and said, “I’m just terrible, I ruin everything.” I explained to Steve, he isn’t terrible, he didn’t do anything wrong. He was being age appropriate and behaving appropriately but that when he gets excited he simply forgets to whisper in a quiet place. That seemed to do the trick. FOR HIM at least.
The lights flickered and it was time for the second part of the show. I asked the woman next to my daughter if my kids were being disrespectful, we had been talking before the performance and she pointed out her daughter to my daughter during her stage time. She said, “No, I don’t believe so.” That made me feel better, I took a deep breath.
Then the top choir took the stage performing their competition set to the musical TOMMY. It was fantastic. And even Steve said, I’m going to take a break from my book. It was awesome. Truly. And Steve was moved and he (forgetting to whisper in his instantaneous joyful moment) let out a “Whoa… that’s so cool”. We were instantly shushhhhhhhhhhhhed by at least 6 people around us including the family behind us whose kids are STILL moving around back there.
This is when I became sad.
Here they are telling a story about a child, Tommy, who needs love and support to overcome his obstacles and such a large group of the audience was so unsupportive of my son.
Silly me, I thought music was supposed to move you. I thought music was supposed to bring you joy. This is clearly a boy, who in his good clothes, tie included, who has been moving his book to the bare light just to be quiet. This is clearly a boy who has no interest in being in this situation and place but knows he needed to bring something to occupy himself and when he finds something he FINALLY connects with… you Shhhhhhuuush him.
It makes me sad. It makes me sad that someone just couldn’t whisper to me and so I could explain. It makes me sad that there are so many judgmental people in the world. It makes me sad that no one anymore seems to understand or remember the phrase, “everyone is living a life you know nothing about, be kind.”
KINDNESS COSTS NOTHING…. Kindness, costs nothing.
Could you same judgmental people not see and tell that I was doing my best? That I was holding him every time the lights went out and he got scared. That he constantly needed my arms around him because it was super cold in there (and being 105 outside we didn’t bring a blanket this time – lesson learned there by the way!) That he wasn’t able to sit as still as other kids his age but wasn’t walking up and down the aisles. Just fidgeted in his seat a bit. Could you judgmental people not show ANY compassion for a mom alone with two kids. Maybe there is a story there? Maybe just maybe she didn’t want to bring her autistic son to this show but needed to do something for her daughter this one time since the autistic boy takes up so much time and energy of the single mother who is sitting there. Did you even for one second think of anyone other than yourself Mr/Ms Judgey Pants?
My daughter, before we left simply looked at me and said, “I’m not really understanding what happened with Steve, Mom.” I just took a breath then she asked, “Am I going to have to go the other High School because these people are so unaccepting?” My answer…. “I am not sure yet, Brooklyn. I am not sure yet.”
This is where I use this blog to work through things… Like this… but I am desperately trying not judge those who judged us. It is not easy. So I will say this… and I will keep saying it until I can move past these feelings, I forgive you Mr/Ms Judgey Pants… I forgive you because you may just have a story that no one knows about. I would like to believe that there was a reason. Something more than you just were a jerk. So for now, I forgive you and I will hope and pray there will be a little more understanding and acceptance next time we attend an open to the PUBLIC (which means no one should be excluded or judged) event.
A girl can pray!