Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Look.

Taking Koala and/or Roo to the supermarket can be a memorable experience.

One trip to the supermarket with Koala when he was 3 or 4, is embedded in my memory for all the wrong reasons! I can no longer remember the reason for his spectacular meltdown, but I certainly remember the event. Koala was often prone to supermarket meltdowns, but this one was a doosey! Children on the spectrum often have very loud voices and often unaware that one should use a lower volume in certain situations. On this occasion Koala had worked himself up into a frenzy of screaming. He had thrown himself on the ground, and I was unable to move him. Neither he nor I had any control over the situation.

It seems inappropriate, but I began to quietly laugh. Laughter seemed like a better response than having mother and child sobbing together on the floor! All the while people were stopping what they were doing to look. Not the kind of look that says, "Oh, I feel for you, I know you're doing your best." but the looks which says in no uncertain terms " That child needs a good smack." or "How dare she allow her child to scream like that." We left as quickly as we could with Koala thrashing about in my arms, while his screaming threatened to bring down the ceiling!

Even now, at the age of 9 Koala can still behave in such a way to attract "the look." Add Roo into the scenario and you can imagine the potential for chaos!

Today Roo turned on a show for his fellow shoppers. I even started to run after one lady who gave us "the look", to explain the reason why my son appears to be so badly behaved. Mid-way through my sprint I thought better of it. I couldn't be sure that I would say what needed to be said with sufficient grace.

I've begun to avoid looking at people when one of my children is in the throws of a meltdown. I know that if they knew the reasons why, then they wouldn't give us the look. But we don't live in a perfect world, so attempting not to look is my survival strategy.

So next time you see a child throwing a paddy, smile, offer a prayer for them or even a simple word of encouragement. It could make someones day a little brighter.


Erin said...


Many hugs{{{}}} my heart goes out in sympathy. I'll remember your story next time I see a child melting down.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tricia! I didn't know you had a blog!! I was just looking on the Home ed website and thought "who is this" and it is YOU!

I am probably one of those folks who gives the "he/she deserves a good smack" look when I see a child running amuk.

Perfect example was the other day at Blackbutt, there was the brattiest child there that I have seen in a loong time. I was making all kinds of comments and giving all kinds of looks and really had to hold myself back from giving her a good talking to.

It wasn't until a little later that I thought "hey, what is going on in her life?". It doesn't excuse the behaviour, but it made me realise that I need to pull my head in a little and try and see the bigger picture.

It is easy for those of us looking in from the outside to cast judgement, especially in your situation, but I think it comes down to not understanding your challenges. I'll admit I don't really 'get it' when it comes to things like aspergers/autism etc, so maybe the more educated folks are the less likely they will be to give your kids the 'look of a good spanking'.

Anyway, I'll add your blog to my morning coffee list!

Maybe I'll see you at something soon? Not that I am actually planning to be at anything (not that there really is anything on...) but if there is, and if we are both there, I'll see you there ;-)