They had his picture up. We had waited for 20 minutes through a choir full of kids, all but my own, who were singing a song that my son can’t sing. We patiently endured a video, full of all the other kids, about how wonderful out door school was…an outdoor school he was not allowed to go to. We listened while the principal stood up an read off a bunch of excerpts from kids about where they think they will be in 10 years…
10 years…I can tell you where my son most likely will be. He doesn’t even have to write it. And it’s not full of joy, happiness, and freedom.
We waited nervously, watching as class by class, the kids were to get up and walk the podium, one by one, and receive their diploma. Our son’s class was second. My dad was with him in the hall to walk with him so there would be the best chance of the best outcome. One by one, the kids went up…
They had his picture up. Ready. Waiting for the owner of that face to walk up and receive a hard earned honor.
He dropped to the floor in the hall and wouldn’t get up. It wasn’t going to happen. I left the room; I had just endured 20 minutes of torture for nothing. Yes I said torture, and even if I had dropped an ‘excruciating’ before it, it still wouldn’t have been an exaggeration. I had to watch and listen to all the other parents’ children and be shown just how different, behind, incapable, left out, and difficult his life is. It slapped us in the face and punched us in the gut. We went out of that school in sobs and tears; The same as many parents, but ours were of pain and a camera ready and waiting…waiting and still empty. Our souls left empty too. We were embarrassed, not of our son, but that we let ourselves be vulnerable and dared to hope. And that hope was watched by all the other parents as it crumbled right before their eyes. I heard the mumbling. They could tell something was wrong. Please don’t mumble next time something goes wrong. The people it affects can hear you.
It’s been a long extremely hard year, filled with more pain and worry than the years before. This graduation would have been at least one special thing he got to do. You have no idea how hard life is for our family, how much stress we endure on a daily basis.
After a moment to ourselves, my husband and I slowly made our way back to the cafeteria to get the hard copy of our son’s graduation picture off of the wall that all the kids’ pictures were on. After sobbing on his teacher’s shoulder (which I don’t think any of the staff have seen me cry once), I left for my car. I received a text from my mom. They had taken the boys to Shari’s.
I pulled myself together in the car on my drive over to the restaurant. The only thing that remained was shell-shock over what just happened. I show up, the waitress grabs my coffee order even before I am able to sit down. 2 minutes later Taylor scurries under our booth’s table to get out. He wouldn’t come back, even for my dad, which was weird. I followed him, trying to pull him back, but it was useless. He wasn’t going to go. He dropped to the floor and just laid there. he was in the door way of the inner door to the dining area.
Then I saw you and your mother.
You were close to coming in, just reaching for the outer door. I cut my losses, tugged on Taylor, and told him to come with me, letting him know I was going to let him go out. (My mom had said that when he saw me walking to the restaurant, he started saying “Car? Car?” He wanted in Papa’s car, just in case I tried to take him back home; He wanted to go to Papa and Grandma’s.)
He moved aside toward the outer door on the other side of the entryway, which gave you plenty of room to walk in. You could have even danced in a conga line if you wanted. That’s when you snottily and condescendingly instructed me to please make sure he doesn’t trip over your mother. On the surface, anyone not knowing the situation might think that was a reasonable request. But they wouldn’t have heard how you said it, how you wouldn’t look me in the eye. It was as if I only existed to hear your words, but nothing more. On top of that, he was just lying there. He wasn’t flailing, kicking, crying, or screaming. In fact, you watched as I had him move out of your way. You saw he did so without incident.
Yet you still opened your mouth. After I said he had autism, you made your second mistake. You opened your mouth, again…this time, to start running it. You kept on running your mouth until your mom was through the inner door into the waiting area and you were almost through as well. I was so angry that I couldn’t think of some crafty retort to say. I had so many floating through my mind; I just couldn’t form one together. So I said quite simply, quite firmly.
…as I looked you dead in the eye, with a look that showed I dared you to bring it. I wasn’t afraid of you. I had tried to be polite. But the way you talked and what you said…you treated my son like he was some second-class human and a nuisance.
Your third mistake was to cowardly quip some uneducated retort while you were settling in to the waiting area where I couldn’t follow to counter. That would have just been a rude thing to do on its own, but it qualifies as a mistake, your most dire one, in my opinion, when you said so just as my dad was rounding the corner to come help me with my son. He hadn’t heard what transpired, but he sure as heard what you had quipped…
“If he’s like that, you shouldn’t bring him to a restaurant.”
Oh God, you didn’t…
He lit into you. He’s educated, extremely intelligent, quick, and unafraid. He can intimidate with just a stare and idle words. You picked the wrong boy to insult, the wrong family, and the most possible wrong time to act so stupidly.
He said nothing inappropriate. No swearing, no yelling; nothing but a quick remark about what autism was, he questioned your maturity level, and postulated it might mirror the level of my delayed son. It was awesome. Epic.
You had it coming. My dad is very protective of his family and their honor. He loves all my children equally, but he is extra protective of my son because he is defenseless against cruel uninformed people like yourself.
I told you to shut up.
And I’m not sorry.
He did nothing to you. Nothing, but just lay there, out of your way. Your snap judgement and insulting verbiage brought this on you.
All he did to you was nothing. He didn’t even look at you. He breathed. Maybe that was it.
I told you to “Shut up!” and I’m not sorry, because my son heard you. He’s had just as rough a day as us, and now he has just listened to you treat him like he didn’t matter.
When I told you to shut up…I showed him that he was worth fighting for.
As always, positive comments are welcome. Negative hurtful comments will be trashed before I can even finish reading them. I have many readers who are emotionally vulnerable, and I will not post comments that will further harm.
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