Friday, March 26, 2010

In which a mother chooses a mote instead of a pen..

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam [is] in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."

Matthew 7:3-5

Oh we've all been there. Your out shopping when all of a sudden you hear it. It is a sound like no other. If you are a parent,you recognize it in an instant. Your head goes look around..if your kids are with look at them. There it is the distance ..a very loud and perceivable "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" followed by crying and perhaps some screaming. A child is having a tantrum. And for one glorious moment you think to yourself - "I am so glad it is not mine." You're glad because you have been there, you have done that, you know what it can be like. If I happen to walk by this tantrum in progress, and I catch the parents eye, I always try to give a look of support, a knowing smile. I try to let them know that I have been there and I know what it is like...that it is o.k. A little kindness can go a long way.

I remember being in that same position so many times over the years. And although we have grown out of public displays of unhappiness..I remember too well what it was like being in the middle of one. To have one of your kids lying on the floor screaming and kicking in the middle of the feel helpless...vulnerable. I remember once, my boy had reached maximum capacity, he had hit sensory overload..there was nothing for him to do but break down utterly and completely. Unfortunately, this happened to be in the doorway of our local supermarket. I was eight months pregnant at the time and way too big to carry him, so the most I could do was slide him over to the side(so people could get in and out), sit down next to him and wait it out. To this day, I will never forget the kindness of absolute strangers. The knowing smiles, the kind nods. Letting me know that they too had been there in my same position..they understood and it was o.k. Of course there were other looks as well. The "My children would never behave that way" and "what kind of parent are you" attitudes. I admit that there was an evil part of me that thought "wait until you have kids of your own and then come talk to me.."

It isn't easy parenting children. The level of difficulty in doing things like going to the market or the library very much depends on a variety things.(do I have enough snacks with me?) I generally have four kids in tow. Most of the time things go smoothly. Sometimes they don't. We are a work in progress. A trip to the store is an opportunity to work on things like manners, patience (mine), getting along (with each other) and social interaction. I never much thought of how we look to strangers-I'm too busy focusing on the kids. Now I know that we might "appear" different. Some of us flap, some of us hop and some of us don't. It is who we are, and that is good enough for us.

A friend of mine ( brought something to my attention . It seems that a mother wrote a blogpost yesterday about her experience at the library. I would give you the link, but the post has been deleted. It WAS titled " In which Smockity considers jabbing a ball point pen in her eye". It seems our heroine Smockity, needed to kill some time, so she took a few of her children to the library. While waiting, they could look at books, use the computers and she could catch up on her bible reading. In walks our protagonist "grandma" and her young granddaughter. Smockity thought that she was about four years old. The little four year old ran to the computers, but they were all in use. Smockity describes the young charge as "flapping her hands", hopping..and GASP! perseverating. The young girl eager to use the computer, repeatedly told her Grandmother that she was doing a good job being patient. The Grandmother, used endearments and praise, telling her young charge that "yes, she was doing a good job." This ANNOYED our heroine. Why didn't grandma just distract her with a book? Why was Grandma using so many endearments? This girl's perseverating wasn't endearing! And why did Grandma keep looking over and smiling at our innocent bible bearing heroine? Was it to try and get her to remove one of her own children from the computers? No sir! If that was what Grandma was aiming for-she was just going to ignore her and continue reading her bible. In fact our heroine had a mantra going through her head.."not my child-not my business" Our saintly heroine was mighty pleased with herself...although she was worried that one of her own sterling examples of perfect reproduction might comment and say "But she is not being patient!" Then what would she have done??-because her little angels would have been right!! No, it was best she just keep her mantra going and her eyes on her bible. As frustrating as it was, (she did consider putting a pen in her eye) she would blog about it later. And blog she did-much to the dismay of many parents. I do not think that this was the response she had expected. To her mind she was relating an anecdote, an experience..she was taking the opportunity to express her disgust with what she perceived had happened.

Some commenter's thought that the little girl might be autistic (because of the description of her behaviors) I don't think that it matters. This isn't a mother who blogs on disability. She might not recognize autism. I can not hold that against her. What bothered me was the self justified arrogance of her post. The "I wouldn't let my kids behave that way" attitude. She could have of reached out to the Grandmother, offered her a smile, some reassurance. It could have made a huge difference, and been a learning experience for her children. Instead, she chose to deliberately ignore her-which is a great way to teach intolerance.

I don't know the reason why she pulled her post. It could be because of the many negative comments, it could be because she felt bad. But after reading this I don't think so. It just makes me want to change the world even more. sigh...way to go Smokity. Good luck with that mote, although I have to say, your pen would have been easier.
Update-thanks to Corina, I have the original post-


Liz Ditz said...

Thanks for writing this. I'm keeping a list of responses to Smockity as is Squid.

I've added your response. I hope Smockity can learn something from the responses.

Kim Wombles said...

Well done, Kathleen.

And you're so right, my ears perk up at the sound of a meltdown; I don't assume it's a misbehaving child throwing a fit. And even it is, the parent and the child deserve compassion.

Anonymous said...

Nicely said, Kathleen! I like that you picked up on her "ignoring" and how that is a good way to teach her own kids intolerance. Very true!

I thought about the mote, too. The pen is easier to remove!

I still feel gob smacked.

Caseybumpinalong said...

Following this drama, which led me to your blog. I HAD to write a response on my blog, too.

Life as the mother of 4 said...

Wasn't it an upsetting situation! Perspective changes everything. As I read Smockity's original post I was so proud of the little girl for being patient! I was echoing the grandmother.

Kelly said...

Thanks for the inspiration. My child is having some episodes of this lately and it really does frustrated me. But I understand that you just have to let it all out until it over and done...
For now, I just can't help but ask for strength and more and more patience to get over this stage :>

Your post just makes it feel better...

kathleen said...

Thanks Liz..I do hope it makes an impression on her..I agree Kim, compassion is everything-neuro typical or not..I really am thankful for the help I have been given at times. Hi Stork..yeah, This could have been such a great lesson for her own children to learn-i.e. tolerance, acceptance..seeing that everyone learns in their own way in their own time.Hi Casey-I'll go check out your blog..Momof 4, I thought that your post was really well done on this-I had a hard time reading smockity's was pretty eye opening..Hi Kelly, thanks for stopping by..I'm sorry that you are having a tough time right now..Do you have any good support where you are? When my boys were smaller, I had no was tough. Let me know how I can help..I've got info for lots of places..forums...I'd be more than happy to help out. Thamks for the nice compliment btw. :)

J. said...

Her blog was very upsetting, the child disabled or not shouldn't have been made fun of.. everyone has their bad days.

I wrote a response of my own, though I am not a parent but a person who is diagnosed with Autism I was not pleased with that blog at all.

Shannon Des Roches Rosa said...

I'm leaving this comment on all the blogs I linked to and which haven't yet cited it: SmockityFrocks issued a sincere apology today.