Dear Grandmother from the park:

November 23, 2008 at 10:07 pm 16 comments

     You probably don’t remember me, but I remember you. You see, I used to be just like you, although I never would’ve been as vocal about it. I was one of those people in the grocery store who couldn’t stand the sound of a screaming child. I still can’t stand it, but not for the same reasons: now I wonder if the child is overly sensitive to sound and light, or if they have been stretched past their point of self-control.  I don’t always assume kids are “typical” anymore because sometimes it’s so hard to tell. How I wish you knew this fact.

     You see, this wasn’t our first visit to the train park. My son loves that place more than just about anywhere else on earth, and we’ve worked very hard to make visiting there pleasant for all of us. We’ve been going for years, but going with a friend is something he’s never experienced. I took him and his one friend, the first real friend he’s ever had, there after school. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him as excited as he was that day, hands flapping as I picked them up, jumping up and down as we waited in line for the train.

     Perhaps it was my mistake, but after years of his begging, I finally agreed to let him ride in the enclosed kids’ caboose in the back. I’ve never let him go on the caboose because I wasn’t sure how he’d handle it. What if it terrified him? There’s nothing that can be done until the train ride is over, and I can’t be in there with him to help him. But this time, with his special friend, I thought perhaps it was time.

     Sure enough, he screamed the entire time – but happily. Stopping only to breathe, he continued his high-pitched, excited screaming for pretty much the whole ride around the park. In the car in front of the caboose, just far enough away that he couldn’t hear me, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He was clearly so thrilled to be in that caboose he couldn’t even contain himself. Yet at the same time, I suspected some of the other kids didn’t like it, despite some of their eager participation in the screaming themselves.

    When the train stopped, I waited outside the caboose, speech prepared to remind him that when other people make loud, unexpected noises it scares him, and how he needs to remember there are other people around. Of course he let out one last little screech, which prompted you to scream yourself, so angrily, “Oh, STOP that SCREAMING already!”  Everyone standing there snapped their heads up at your tone, except my C, who was oblivious. Fortunately, you weren’t even on the train yourself (your granddaughter being able to go alone), so you didn’t witness the entire trip. Although I’m sure your granddaughter filled you in on the highlights.

     I had the chat with my C, after which he was appropriately chagrined. I saw you take your granddaughter over to the carousel, and I thought about approaching you to explain. I wanted so desperately to educate you about what we’ve gone through to get where we are. I wavered, not wanting to seem like a parent who makes excuses for their child, but also not wanting you to get away with feeling so self-righteous about this supposedly horribly behaved child of mine. I was so angry at you and people like you I wanted to strike a figurative blow for all of us parents out there who work so hard to even take our kids anywhere. We try so hard to protect your sensibilities, but frankly, I’m a little fed up at this point with worrying about people like you.

     So I find myself thinking it’s a good thing you are blessed with the lovely, quiet, seemingly well-behaved little granddaughter you seem to have, because I suspect if there were any hints of issues, you wouldn’t be able to handle it. It would probably surprise you to know how lucky and blessed I think I am. Wherever you are, oh grandmother, I hope you know how lucky and blessed you are.

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10 Things This Mother Wishes You Knew Thankful

16 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Holly's Mom  |  November 23, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    Your post made me so sad. I can;t fathom that there are people like that out in the world. So Cold, So Thoughtless, So Self Absorbed. He was just happy and excited and did nothing wrong, he wasn;t hurting anyone, why can;t she see that? I am so glad he had a wonderful time.

    I know – it amazes me how clueless people can be, but then I remember how clueless I used to be. Perhaps it’s cosmic kharma coming around to bite me for all those times I grumbled in my head (but dang, I never said it out loud!!!) about an ill-behaved child…we did have fun, though. He’s still talking about it.

  • 2. looksgoodinpolkadots  |  November 23, 2008 at 11:22 pm

    It sounds like C had a blast… and that’s all that matters.

    We deal with screaming all the time and I feel an almost constant need to explain to everyone. As parents, we shouldn’t have to explain our children to ANYONE.

    I like to remind older folks who are cranky with the kids that they once, were also young and maybe even a bit reckless. Why is it that so often we spend our “golden years” in a constant state of crankiness? Why can’t we all look at the little kids and remember what life was like when we were young?

    I’m sorry this person made your outing a bit unhappy. How wonderful that C had fun, did something new and all of it WITH A FRIEND.

    Yes, and that was the coolest thing – I’m frankly not sure we’ve ever taken a friend somewhere like that before, so it was big. He’s never had so much fun at the train park, and he definitely loves that place. It was new heights of fun, for sure.

  • 3. mama mara  |  November 24, 2008 at 5:36 am

    Maybe Granny has a touch of spectrum in her. That’d explain the oversensitivity to noise.

    Or maybe Granny just needs an attitude adjustment and an atomic wedgie.

    ESPECIALLY since we were OUTSIDE! Sheesh! Perhaps she is sensitive to noise, but I like the attitude adjustment and atomic wedgie better. Let’s go with that!

  • 4. therocchronicles  |  November 24, 2008 at 6:57 am

    Yea for C for riding solo!!! and for bringing a friend! great accomplishment!

    So far I’ve only had one person make a comment (yelling “that’s ADD Man!” and pointing while I tried to calm my son in a crowd) and I didn’t approach him. If they are so bold to make comments I figure they won’t “hear” me anyway. I don’t think I could come up with the right words anyway!

    Most people don’t know how blessed they are AND how blessed we are…

    You are exactly right – people who would say things like this probably aren’t going to hear us anyhow. So it’s probably good I didn’t bother, because I would’ve been even less satisfied with the entire event than I was in the first place. We are blessed, aren’t we???

  • 5. Kate  |  November 24, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Dear Grandmother at the park –
    I’m not as nice as C’s gracious mother.
    Next time, shut the f*ck up and mind your own business.
    C’s mommy’s friend.

    Can I print this out as a generic alternative to the “You have encountered someone with autism” cards I’m always hearing about??? I like this a LOT better. Thanks for the hooting and hollering you gave me. Once again I think it’s good I don’t drink coffee while sitting at the computer.

  • 6. tiredmama  |  November 24, 2008 at 7:33 am

    Glad he had such a wonderful time on the train! I know that “grandmother.” I’ve met her many times before. I always want to educate people who react like that, but most of the time I just have to walk away (well, because usually if I stop too long, we will have other issues). Thanks for posting your feelings.

    I guess that grandmother gets around, huh? 😉 ‘Nuf said.

  • 7. T$  |  November 24, 2008 at 8:49 am

    her and her stupid grandkid are probably on prozac

    That’s funny – I thought prozac too. Now even though the pic is showing Jess, I think this is T$. It sounds more like a comment you would make, dear brother. A little Uncle Bear in you here???

  • 8. Good Fountain  |  November 24, 2008 at 9:56 am

    THank you for such an eloquent post. Ugh. This is, unfortunately, one of those BTDT moments. Not with screaming, but with Chee’s inability to sit down in a group function. I have seen the eyerolls and looks down the nose.

    I have to LOL at Pixie Mama’s comment.

    I figured just about everyone who reads here has had one of these moments! These people who judge us so harshly really need to get a life, don’t they?

  • 9. FXSmom  |  November 24, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    i’m with Kate…lol

  • 10. hopeauthority  |  November 24, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    She must’ve been the inspiration for that old Danny DeVito movie: “Throw (grand)Momma from the Train…”

    Here’s wishing her a vomit-inducing ride on the carousel with her granddaughter…who probably can’t stand her either…and a long miserable life in a smelly nursing home where her fat red ass sits in a wet diaper, til she herself experiences the need to scream uncontrollably. Oh, and surrounded by a herd of the worst, most neglectful nurses in history, who yell back at her angrily.

    Yes, I can be mean. I hate her. Miserable Old Fart.

    But glad ‘C’ had fun. Next time will be even better. Congratulate yourself for the victory…and for restraining yourself from unhitching the carousel horse.

    This reminds me of my solution for drivers who irritate me – of which someone chastised me so greatly one time, and here I thought it was the perfect non-harmful solution. Picture the person in a paper bag full of mosquitoes, completely naked. It kinda worked for me! Of course, this was in the days before both wicked mosquito born illnesses hitting the US and before road rage seemed so prevalent. Now I calmly let the idiot tailgating me pass on by, figuring his heart attack will surely come soon.

    Funny that she didn’t even go on the ride with her granddaughter – actually, either ride. Weird. I still stand there and hold C on the horse because he needs me to. I’m always surprised when a little kid is on there alone.

  • 11. robinaltman  |  November 24, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    I’m so glad C had a nice time. Why do people have to be like that? I hope I’m not a sour old crone when I get old.

    I think karmic retribution is going to get her. She’s so yucky that she doesn’t enjoy her life, and the people around her are probably disgusted with her grouchy attitude.

    OK. I’m trying to be mature. Forget it. Screw her. Atomic wedgie time. Old bitch!!!!!

    That felt waaaay better.

    It’s so funny, because I was trying to be nice in my post – especially to her granddaughter, who, truth be told, was so calm and quiet I kept thinking “Prozac,” but I’m not used to calm and quiet around here, so I don’t really know what that is supposed to look like. She was a pissant. I always try so hard to remind myself that I have no idea what her life is like – perhaps her daughter and SIL died and she’s raising the little girl herself, or something of the sort. But leave it to me to try to make excuses for everyone else! There goes my spine again!!! 🙂

  • 12. goodmum  |  November 24, 2008 at 7:47 pm

    I think what Granny really needed was your foot up her arse. Ahem. Or something.

    I have a really obnoxious thought about that, but my puritan sensibilities (lol) forbid me from saying it. I have an image to uphold, you know. 😉 But yes, she definitely needed something, and I think your “something” was probably exactly what the doctor ordered…

  • 13. Goldie  |  November 24, 2008 at 7:55 pm Rage, sadness…I have SO been there! So many times I have wanted to march up to people who roll their eyes, stare, mutter under their breath… but I also don’t want to look like someone who just makes excuses for their child’s behavior and doesn’t even try.

    This insensitivty of people never ceases to amaze me. And I agree… miserable old fart! lol

    Well written. glad c had fun. gotta love trains!

    Exactly. If all those folks knew how much we DO try! And while I’ll never let an unacceptable behavior slip by without doing something, it may not be in the form people around us expect, you know?

    Yes, the train park is wonderful here. So cute and has been his favorite for so many years. We love it!

  • 14. Jesch  |  November 25, 2008 at 7:10 pm

    I’m with Kate too.

  • 15. Chrisy  |  February 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    I just stumbled on your page. Thank you for this granny story. It made me cry. How many times I feel like screaming at the top of my lungs when people stare at me and my “badly behaved” autistic son. Why can t the world have more compassion?

  • 16. fiona2107  |  June 21, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    YOU meet the same people that I do!
    You were so controlled and that must have broken your heart!
    If only there was a heck of a lot more education out there!


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