This kindergarten/real world business is hard for me. Last night bubs' school had something called 'Family fun night', it was like a mini carnival for the kids and it was held in the gym and the cafeteria. Me being in need of control of my surroundings volunteered to work it. It was my first 'pta event'. I feel like I need to get a handle on this school and maybe make some friends. But I find that we are straddling two worlds here, not entirely comfortable in each. We left the autism world in which we were immersed to join the land of the neurotypicals. Not sure how to toggle both.
First off, I was in the gym manning my bean bag station when a little girl came up to take a turn. Her aunt was with her and I could tell she was in kindy. She had a somewhat unusual name, which I will just abbreviate as 's'. So after hearing her name, I asked 's' if she was in bubs' class. She said yes, and I told her that bubs came home with a picture she made him the first week of school and it was beautiful. She proceeded to tell me how annoying my son was. She actually said 'bubs annoys me'. I asked her just what did he do to bother her so much. You know what her answer was? 'He always is saying 'hello' to me and wants to play with me'. She went on and on and on. Ya know we spent the better part of the last 4 or so years trying to get my son to say the word 'hello' and navigate the maze of social interactions involved in getting someone to play with you. It is hard to kind of regulate, and my bubs does need to learn some boundaries and improve his ability to read social cues. I just don't believe he is as horrible as this little princess made him out to be. In all fairness, her aunt was mortified and she did report back to the girls mom who was manning the popcorn station in the cafeteria.
So now I spent the duration of the evening wondering if my son is socially inappropriate. I got transferred out of the gym and moved to a table in the cafeteria. A woman came up to me and asked me if I was bubs' mom and I said yes. It was 's's' mom. She profusely apologized for her daughters remark. I of course told her it was no problem and that she was just voicing her opinion and that my son is super friendly and doesn't always know when to quit.
I must also explain that bubs' is in the inclusion class. Which means that there are 12 'typical' (and I use that term loosely) in the class and 8 classified. I feel like I need an instruction manual on how to deal with this. At some point in the convo with 's's' mom she of course had to ask me where we lived. This is not our neighborhood school. I told her that, and I told her that my son was one of the inclusion kids, because she looked like she already figured it out. Of course another mom close by who has a daughter in bubs' class scooted on over to join in our convo. Look, they were really friendly but I just felt like I was cornered. 'S's' mom proceeded to ask me what was the matter with my son, and why was he in inclusion. She said she noticed that all the inclusion kids seemed fine and that none of them 'had a third arm growing out of their head, or anything'. Gee, think of all the countless hours of therapy I wasted on my child, since he didn't have the requisite third leg growing out of his skull. I think I had a 'look' on my face because she then said I didn't have to answer if I didn't want to. Oh really. I made up some vagueness about speech delays and early intervention just to end the conversation.
I am VERY proud of bubs and under the right circumstances I will share. But this woman should have controlled her curiosity, and I really think that was all it was. She wasn't mean, just overly nosy. But it was the third time that night someone asked me what bus stop I was at/where I lived/ who is my son's teacher. Normal questions I suppose. Nothing outlandish. But it was a real conversation killer when I delivered my answer. You can almost hear the crickets chirping.
I know I am super sensitive. I probably sound like a paranoid nut job. I just don't know how to handle all this.
We were super insulated, super nurtured and I had a really tight (and still have)bond with some of the moms I met at bubs' old school. It was a wonderful support system. I am now in a world where people don't know where we came from. They think that I came from where they came from. I am not ashamed of my son at all. I am just fiercely protective of him. Fiercely. I never want anyone to not want to be his friend because of a label or to gossip about him, or to even look at him with a strange curiosity. I want them to see the goodness in him, to know that he is an individual. I am afraid people will just hear the word autism and think of rain man or headbanging and be frightened. I also feel like the burden should not be on my child to change their mind about it. I don't know where we are headed down this road, and into or out of those proverbial 'woods'. Once you are 'out of the closet' you cannot go back in.
It's different for everyone. I have friends who have cards they hand out in public places, for the very same reason I don't want to tell anyone. So that people will treat their children with kindness and understanding. They don't want anyone judging if their child is stimming, or having a meltdown. It's really all part of the same post traumatic stress disorder we are collectively going through.
I know I am reading way too much into this. I know most people aren't that judgy (or at least I hope not) . I know that 's's' mom was just being nosy and trying to gain an understanding of what makes a child qualify for special ed, although I really did think her daughter was 'one of us' and perhaps had some social issues. I know. I just don't know how to handle it.