Part of the Solution

Posted by on Jul 28, 2011 | 5 comments

Part of the Solution

So yesterday’s post hit a nerve, and there’s been a lively discussion about the “no kids” movement since I put it up.  As I’ve had a chance to step back from the piece and read what others are saying, a couple of things have occurred to me.  First, I probably shouldn’t have brought up restaurants at all.   Even though there’s a restaurant in the article I cited that has banned all children aged six and under, most adults value a quiet evening meal out (especially if they’re parents, natch).  I really don’t have a problem with a restaurant observing adults-only hours, especially since I’m not likely to be bringing my children in at those times anyway.

My main concern is those places where we must be with our children and really have no other choice.  I cannot plan my shopping trips around when my grocery store decides to exclude children.  The chain cited in the article is Whole Foods, one where I spend a lot of time and money.  It is disheartening to have a store I love so much kowtow to people who are, in my opinion, just being snobs.  Seriously, if you want to grocery shop when there are no children around, go late at night.  It’s that simple.

The thought of a child-free park or airline gets my blood boiling.  As I said before, nobody wants to be cooped up in an airplane, least of all my children.  If my child acts out 30,000 feet in the air, there’s nowhere for us to go.  The idea that we’re “ruining it for everybody” is ridiculous when we’ve paid a lot of money to travel just like everyone else.  There are also a lot of adults who don’t comport themselves well on public transportation, either, in so many ways (smelling foul, drinking heavily, snoring loudly, taking my armrest, etc.).


Secondly, I want to share a couple of stories about people who have made my life better in uncomfortable public situations.  I had been saving these for another post, but they seem appropriate now.

There are angels out there.  People who take the time to inhale life around them, people who engage in their surroundings rather than merely passing through them.  They don’t often hang around long, and they rarely leave their names, but they’re out there.  We have been fortunate enough to encounter many on our autism journey, but two stand out in my memory.

The first is a gentleman who bought me a loaf of bread.  When Jack was four, I took him into the grocery store with me to get a few items.  My husband stayed in the car with the other two boys, but Jack was antsy and needed to walk.  I knew he was in a mood, and I hoped helping me shop would engage him.  Unfortunately, the checkout line was long and he lost his patience.  He ran around, fell to the ground, generally lost his focus.  I made it through the line, and realized the checker hadn’t rung up our loaf of bread.  I debated, and decided I couldn’t wait the extra two minutes it would have taken her to do it.  Jack was ready to leave, and I was ready to get him strapped into his seat.

As I wrestled with him to the door, the man behind me in line came running up with the bread I had abandoned.  He put it in my bag and offered to help me with Jack.  I politely declined, and he explained that he was a behavioural therapist, and worked with children with autism.  He gently helped me get Jack out the door, and ran back to pay for his own groceries.  He was gone as quickly as he had appeared.


The second is a gentleman who restored my faith in humanity.  As I mentioned in my post yesterday, Jack has taken to throwing full-body tantrums in front of the grocery store exit, prostrating himself across the door.  There are various reasons for this, but they all usually involve him not getting something he wants and exhaustion.

During a particularly trying situation a couple of weeks ago, Jack was sprawled on the floor screaming.  I spoke to him calmly, trying to get him to listen to me.  He was fully invested in his anger, and didn’t want to let go of it for anything.  I held my ground, knowing if I talked to him long enough, he’d settle down.  It was just a matter of finding the right thing to say (I’ve always said that words are keys to unlock Jack, we just have to figure out which ones will work at any given time).  If I could just calm him down, I could get him to walk with me to the car, or at least to a bench where we could talk it out (and he wouldn’t be blocking the door).

As usual, there were stares.  An older woman actually bent over and told him he needed to listen to his mama and get up (I’ve stopped trying to correct old ladies – I know they mean well, and as long as they’re gentle and nice, I have no problem with them. I also know Jack will turn away and not listen anyway).  Throughout the ordeal, a gentleman leaned against the customer service counter, watching.  I’m used to that, as people will tend to stop and watch when a child melts down completely in an inconvenient place.

I finally got Jack settled and on his feet, and he held my hand as we made our way out to the car.  Halfway there, the man caught up with us.  I braced for the worst.  “You did a good job back there, mom.”  He smiled and went back into the store.  I still tear up when I think about it.


I know there are good people out there who love children and live their lives engaged.  When it seems like the world is against me and my child and the walls are closing in, I try to stop and think about them.  They are angels, and they walk among us.

Namaste, my friends.



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