living after the death of a baby, living with Autism, living as a family of six, living on our organic homestead, living miserably, hopefully, and with joy, and somedays just living

tougher skin

I need more protection from my feelings.  I can’t stand that I’m so sensitive.   I’m constantly seeking out the approval of others.  Any sniff, glance, or scoff is soul searingly hurtful.

I have a big family, I have four kids under five, and one of them has autism which can make him socially awkward.

We don’t go out a lot, it can be a overwhelming,and it’s easier to have one of us go out and have one parent hang back with the kids at home.  Today that wasn’t possible.  We never eat out either, and today we did.  It was just the Costco food court, but as always, it was busy.  Elijah, Natalia, Micah and I sat down to wait for Ky and Petra to go order our food.  While we were waiting a lovely woman came over to chat.  She was very nice.  Elijah was playing ipod, and my hands were full with the baby, while Natalia whined about something I couldn’t quite figure out.  While trying hear Natalia, Elijah got up and went over to the table beside us, and said to a kid about 16-18, nice hat.  The guy sorta ignored him with a snooty look.  He had a white fancy baseball hat with black swirls, likely some ‘It’ brand name.  Elijah, not getting the brush off, turned and made eye contact by placing his face way too close, and said “I said nice hat” grabbing his hat. It hard to explain, but Elijah has this sing songy way of speaking, somewhat common to autistic kids and other developmentally delayed kids.  All off this happened too fast for me to get up, I did say to him, ‘”Elijah come back, don’t do that” , but it was too late, the kid snatched his hat back and, glared at Elijah with some intense hatred.  His parents looked over at me with disapproving faces, and the dad shoke his head at me. They got up and left.  A few steps away the kid took his hat off to inspect the brim to make sure Elijah hadn’t ruined it.

I hate this, I hate that in just a few minutes that people get to make some sort of judgment about me, my kid, my parenting, and come to the conclusion that we are either losers, or skipped parenting all together.  I really hate the you have too many kids looks and the comments that are thinly disguised as, you must really like a challenge, wow your hands are full, or best of all, you do know why that keeps happening right? (usually said when I’m pregnant or have a new baby)

It totally ruined my day.  It shouldn’t care, I really should shrug it off and leave it at the store.  But I can’t, I really work hard with E, and no one can see it.  I have very high expectations of my kids, I’m always on their case about manners and obedience, yet in a moment it all goes out the window.

I  wish I was less thin skinned. I just want to cry, and my tummy hurts from the oh so oily pizza that was my dinner.  So not worth the stop on so many levels.  From now on we’ll eat before we go.

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Comments on: "tougher skin" (14)

  1. I wish I could take that hurt away. Trust that you are a great parent, though I know that that doesn’t help the hurt feelings. Those people have no idea of anything about you, and they don’t matter.
    Though I know that right now, they kinda do.
    Wish I could give you a big hug.

  2. Oh, sweetheart, there are other ways to look at it. I love that Elijah talked to someone and wanted to make sure he heard the compliment. Sure he got in too close, but that’s a refinement. Kids his age struggle with that anyway. You are a ray of light in the world. Don’t ever forget that. Your children will carry that with them and make the world a better place in ways you can’t imagine now.

  3. Zoey says it so well. You are a fantastic person with a fantastic goal of raising a fantastically large family when the status quo only calls for one or 2 kids. I would hazard a guess that because Elijah “looks” like any other 5 year old, people hold a certain expectation toward him to “act” like any other 5 year old. Unfortunately, it’s just not possible to explain your story to every stranger out there who gives you the look. Be strong on the inside, Erron. And perhaps one day you can scoff at the people who are given a complement and don’t acknowledge it. Especially when it comes from a child. Your child.

  4. Just judge them right back! haha. (Kidding, kind of). They are the bad parents, with a kid with an attitude that they just might have taught to him. Sorry it was so rough at Costco. Get some sleep, put on your armour for tomorrow and surge ahead! I can barely keep up with two, you are stellar doing it with four. And, it is your choice as to how many you have. All the power to you to have so many children to love and have them love you back. You are lucky (you know what I mean).

    Tara

  5. Erron just for a second remove yourself from the situation and look at it from the ceiling of the Costco. Elijah had the courage to walk up to this kid, say “I like your hat” then “I said I like your hat” while moving in face to face and taking the hat.. not backing down and also not hurting or hitting or biting anyone, right? The image I have in my mind is absolutely Hilarous and really made my day. Awkward moments happen, You know how good you are, so one must make like a duck.

  6. On the few occasions that I had the pleasure to meet Elijah, I was quite impressed. I knew that he was autistic before I met him and have encountered many autistic children and young adults whether it was through babysitting them, paticipating in programs through school or having them as students. When in Canmore, I mentioned to Lauren how well Elijah seems to function and listen. It is awesome that he is able to go to someone, make a point of making eye contact with them, and compliment them. It is wonderful. He has learned lots of good lessons through your hard work with him. It doesn’t matter that other people can’t see it, and, remember, there are people who can see it. Maybe it is a failing in humanity that we are often quicker to share or show our negative judgements with people than we are to share our positive judgements. I experience that in my profession all the time. : ) I’m sure that there have been thousands of times when people have looked at your family admiringly and simply smiled in pleasure and kept walking. I know it! You have something beautiful that you chose, even if it is hard sometimes.

    On another, less appropriate note, if I were you, the next time someone says, “You do know why that keeps happening, right,” I’d say, “Heck yes I do! And we do it real good.” (I’d probably be more graphic but…_ Lol! Hugs.

  7. Lauren Ruhl-Epp said:

    Erron,

    I want you to know that there are people out there, like Tessa said, that see a big family full of young kids and smile.

    I am one of them.

    Kids don’t always act the way adults expect them too, and that is an unfair expectation, because they’re not adults and they all have their separate set of circumstances. People on the outside of any kind of relationship can never know all the details of what’s going on inside that relationship.

    Know that I walk by a family with kids, I just smile down at the children and the parents. Regardless of what the kids may be doing and if it’s “socially appropriate”. Those kids are a gift. It just makes me so happy to see those little lives. And there are other people who feel the same way I do!

    I can’t imagine how hard it must be to deal with those kinds of judgements, as I am not a parent, but remember that you are a good, giving parent. You spend most of every day with your kids and the fact that you’re devoting your time to them, says wonders about your parenting. It’s sad, but some kids don’t get that kind of attention and love. Try to know that you provide your children with a loving environment that some families could only dream of.

    God blessed you with Elijah’s challenges because He knew that you and Kyle were to kind of parents who could give him the environment and love that he needs.

    What other people see, should not replace what you know to be true about how hard you and Elijah and all your kids work.

  8. Your blog post brought tears to my eyes. I too am the mom of a special needs child and while he doesn’t look any different than anyone else he is (in a wonderful, loving, caring way).

    My heart ached for you in that instance but the tears are ones of joy for you and the apparent success of your hard work and that of your son and your entire family.

    Every child is a blessing and the love you must enjoy from such a large family must make your heart overflow. Remember that love in times of others’ unkindness. (((HUGS)))

  9. I agee with Tyler. I can just picture Elijah doing this and it made me laugh. Too bad for the older kid that he couldn’t take some pleasure in Elijah’s interest. Thick skin my dear. xoxo

  10. christine said:

    ((((HUGS)))) to you!

  11. Erron,

    I have found it helps to get pissed rather than hurt. Just swear your bloody head off at them (in your mind of course), let all the blood rush to your brain or whatever it does, then shake it off. These people are ignorant and are not worth a heartache. Unfortunately, there are too many people in the world who are so not worth it. Remember this and next time a situation like this arises, dig quick and deep to remember the people who love you and support you. I would give my right hand to see Elijah try to grab my face and give me a compliment, I truly do miss you guys so.

  12. Erin, the fact that you are so loving, sensitive and warm, is what makes you a fantastic mommy. Your willingness to be so vulnerable and open your heart 5 times over for your little ones is a sacrifice so few are willing to make and therefore, makes you a hero-mom. You set a standard few can attain or even dare strive for in this day and age with so many competing priorities. When I think of you I tire instantly. I don’t know how you (and Kyle) do it, and I know I am too weak a mother, a woman, a parent to take on THAT MUCH LOVE. I truly admire what you do. The fact that those ‘costco parents’ don’t have the understanding to see that; simply is a reflection on who they are and exemplifies their ignorance not only of children with autism, but CHILDREN IN GENERAL!! Elijah’s reaction to being snubbed was so honest and wouldn’t we all love to be free enough from ‘social norms’ to grab some dumbass by the name brand hat and say “HEY I’m talking to you punk!!”. Good for him! lol Honestly any ‘good parent’ would be mortified that their jerk-teenager would treat a young admirer with such disregard! And don’t worry about the tough skin, it’ll come when it’s needed. Right now, be proud that you love so much, feel so much it’s a testiment to your committment 😉

  13. That’s one of the things I still have to get out of my way when parenting. I get so uptight about the idea of my children fitting in that I miss out on the fact that they are awesome.

    Yes, they are right up front and talking to people who probably feel they are too old to talk to my kids, or who believe my kids are brash or uncouth because they’re speaking outside of their expected social circle. I continue to need to work on understanding that my kids are not afraid of social interaction under any circumstance. They’re so far ahead of me in that area that it’s almost laughable.

    I’ll pile on with everyone else and say that I think you’re doing a wonderful job with your children. I look forward to seeing the changes to the place when we get there this weekend.

    Liam

  14. Erron:

    You are a wonderful mother and do a wonderful job with all your children. It is always easy for other people to make a snap judgement not knowing what is really going on. It is in our nature to be protective or our children (I also take it to heart and get very upset when people give my kids a look) Kids will be kids, when I look back on some of those situations I laugh (at the time it was not so funny though). You guys are wonderful parents, don’t let the rude and ignorant people get to you (I know easier said then done, I have had a few instances where I have wanted to get in someones face) Elijah is a wonderful loving child (just like all your other children) it is a missed opportunity for those who do not see that, it is there loss in life not yours or his. HUGS

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