Sometimes I’m reminded that you are different.
This past weekend we were having celebratory pizza, or at least most of us were (you on the other hand were enjoying onions, carrots, and pink starburst) for your very sweet friend Evy’sbirthday.
All was going well for the first 15 minutes until you noticed that you were surrounded by stacks of napkins (pizza is greasy…). Oh, those dreaded napkins! You’re not a fan of their existence, that is a fact. There’s auditory fear you have that someone will use one to blow their nose causing your auditory senses to burst into a frenzy of displeasure & infinite sadness!
Ok, so stress and anxiety have now joined you at the party for fear of a potential attack of the napkins…it’s OK we got this. Deep breaths.
You were already slightly stressed and on edge, but the tipping point was Dad getting up to get a fork. Woh! That caused a bout of separation anxiety and you began to scream - loud.
Where was he going? Is he coming back? Was Dad abandoning you to live in a world of deliciously greasy pizza and mounds of napkins forever!?! Worse, did he need me to rescue him from an army of napkins?!
Your panic and anxiety was taking over and with it came the first disapproving glances aimed in our direction.
It’s funny because sometimes people will tell me I’m overreacting to what I see. They’ll go on to say perhaps these glances are from people just showing a look of confusion, or they were startled by the sudden noise. But honestly, most of the time I firmly believe that I’m aware of the intent, and it’s not innocent.
I’ve tried over the years to thicken my skin, and just not care, and some days I am successful at that. But, it’s very tough sometimes, especially when another adult looks at you in such a judgmental way.
So, back to the pizza place… I gave you my phone thinking it would distract you by firing up nursery rhymes on YouTube. It was working until hickory dickory doc came on, and the visual of the clock made you start mimicking your very loud, monotone donging of a clock sounds...repeatedly. Dong. Dong. Dong.
The looks were coming fast and furious and you were covering your own ears, only getting louder and louder. Realizing you were now in “skipping record” mode with clock sounds, I decided to take you out to the car, in hopes to help you calm down a bit. On our way out, a couple seated by the door was watching our every move and not in an approving manner. As I got closer, I mouthed “so sorry” hoping they’d understand we were doing the best we could.
Here’s the thing Addie, I know I didn’t owe them an apology, we had every right to be there just like they did, but I could feel their eyes burning through us, so I felt it was a kind gesture. We should always try our best to be kind whenever we can. Much to my surprise after my apology the woman looked at me and rolled her eyes.
Seriously?!? Was she really that bothered?! We weren’t at a fine dining establishment, it was a local pizza place for crying out loud! And you were being good. VERY GOOD my dear. Dad and I were so proud of how well you were doing all day INCLUDING at the pizza place. Yes, you were “donging” away as you gave us your best Big Ben interpretation. But it wasn’t anything super disruptive for a pizza place - certainly not compared to some “Best of Addie” moments, so I really was taken aback by her response.
I was angry. My heart started racing, I wanted to go over there and slam my fists down on their table and say “I wish you knew how well she was doing today!” among a few other choice words…
I wish you knew that when I left the house this morning, that for the first time in a long time she didn’t have a complete meltdown from separation anxiety.
I wish you knew that we just went roller skating - which was a field day of sensory assaults, and it wasn’t easy, but she did great!
I wish you knew that she tried so hard NOT to hold my hand while roller skating, because she wants to be a big kid.
I wish you knew how hard it is for her to be in a restaurant like this with lights, sounds, and smells that she has to filter through before ever getting comfortable just sitting here.
I wish you knew that after we left your eye roll defeated me and we stayed in the car.
I wish you knew that as we sat in the car my anger for you melted away and instead I felt grateful. Yes, it’s true. I was grateful that at the young ages of 11, 9, and 6 my children already had more compassion than a woman of your age. And raising genuine good people means more to me than you ever will.
Most of all, I wish you knew my daughter. The happy, sweet, amazing, resilient little girl that she is, because if you did - maybe, just maybe you wouldn’t have rolled your eyes and made us feel less than you.
You (not us) were in the wrong. You (not us) should have stayed home tonight. You (not us) deserve the shame of bad behavior.
Addie, I wish I would’ve said all these things to her, but I didn’t, because in that moment, you needed me, not her.
You my dear are loved by so many and we’re SO proud of you and the person you are growing up to be!
Yes, we were reminded that you are different, but always remember you are not less.
I love you.