When you live with Autism, or any other difficult life situation I know there are some very dark times.
I know I have considered myself in dark situations, trying to escape this current reality...but I always come back to a good place inside my heart. I never let myself go too far in the direction of hopelessness.
I try every single day to do the best I can.
I love myself, my son, my daughter, my friends and family.
I remind myself how blessed I am to be able to live this life and experience all it has to offer me...ALL of it.
I know I chose this journey in life for whatever reason, and I accept the lessons that come my way no matter how hard some of them may be.
I have learned to forgive myself for times I wasn't as strong as I could have been.
I let go of guilt, judgement, and worry...because honestly none of them will serve any positive purpose in my life ever.
I try to fill my heart with as much joy and hope as possible every day, because you just never know when powers out of your control or conscious will point at you and say, "You, it's your turn now"...
Then...there are days that I get slapped in the face and some of that familiar pain I work so hard to dissolve every day comes right back.
We were at the store a few days ago and Kannon, Kalena and I all went in to the Ladies restroom.
Kannon went into the handicapped stall and Kalena and I shared a smaller one next to him.
Kannon finished first, I heard him flush and come out and start to wash his hands.
Within a second I saw someone walk into the bathroom and go to the handicapped stall, then turn around and right in Kannon's face yelled...
"Next time use the regular bathroom...and the boys bathroom...AND put the toilet seat down..."
Then she slammed the bathroom door shut and muttered something under her breath...I'm pretty sure I heard the words "stupid kid"...
My face immediately became a frustrated shade of red.
I calmly came out of the stall, where Kannon was cowering in the corner scared of this stranger who had just yelled at him...and I am not exaggerating...YELLED at this 7 year old who has no words for her in return.
He immediately grabbed onto my shirt and hid behind me just staring at the stall where the lady went into.
I continued to wash my hands and Kalena's hands, then we walked out and stood waiting outside the bathrooms...Oh I was not going to let this one go...
I had maybe 4 minutes to compose myself, figure out what I was going to say and try to remain calm...because at this point I truly wanted to explode...and cry.
I haven't felt emotions like this in a long time...I have learned to not default to anger or frustration because I know it will not do me any good to allow others to affect my emotions.
So, out came the lady.
She was in her 50's and she was using a cane, so she clearly was handicapped and thought that since my son didn't have any visible faults he was "fine" and abusing the use of the handicapped stall...
She walked right up to me before I could even think about approaching her and said "You need to teach your son to put the seat down and respect the use of the handicapped stall...what kind of mother are you?"
What kind of mother am I?
If this grumpy old woman only knew.
So, I said in response to her...
"First of all, I apologize if you felt my son was being rude by not putting the toilet seat down, we have been working with him on putting the seat down and we will continue to work with him on such things..."
"Secondly mam, HE IS HANDICAPPED...(I did raise my voice on this one)....in fact in the eyes of the state he considered Severely handicapped..."
"He has Autism...I don't know if you know what that is, but if you'd like I would be more than happy to educate you on the disorder so that you may understand why my son who looks perfectly normal to you used the handicapped stall and left the toilet seat up... ALSO he used the Women's bathroom because he cannot be left on his own EVER, so I needed him to be with me in the bathroom..."
"SO the fact that he left the toilet seat up is something that he has yet to understand why it is wrong...and the fact that he used the handicapped stall, well I think you can figure that one out for yourself now that I had to explain this to you after you, an adult, yelled at an innocent 7 year old..."
She was silent and looking at Kannon while he peered around my back at her.
One last wave of thoughts came to me and I finished with them...
"You scared my son because of a toilet seat...did it ever cross your mind that maybe he IS handicapped and that's WHY he was using the handicapped stall, and maybe even WHY he left the seat up?"
Her face dropped, and my heart did too...
I have been faced with this so many times in public.
People either act out of ignorance or impulse and then once they are faced with the reality of it all...the fact that they acted like an a** to a little person who has NO control over any of this...well it is written all over their faces...they feel like crap, they feel embarrassed...as they should.
And once again, I am the one who feels terrible that I just raised my voice at a complete stranger...doing the very thing that she did to Kannon.
She obviously felt terrible, lowered her head and was speechless.
She managed to say that "I just need to continue working with him on the toilet seat, because it's just gross..."
And she walked away.
Kannon was still very sad and confused as to why he was being yelled at by this woman,
As she walked away he looked at me and said "EEEEWWW...mad mad princess"
I don't know about princess....
He then gave me a big hug and kissed my arm.
I knew right then I did the right thing by talking to her the way I did, Kannon knew it too.
I hope this lady learned something from all of this.
I hope she will think twice before judging or acting again.
Most of all, I wish she could know that even after all she did to Kannon he still called her a Princess.
After all, he only knows good.
Bless his heart.
And those who live every day with a difficult situation, I hope we try to be better people to the ignorance of human compassion and patience.
I hope we will not let our situations in life get the better of us, we cannot let what other people think or think they know affect our daily search for happiness.
So what if we have to be the better person sometimes...or ALL the time.
Live by example.
I'm o.k with how I reacted to this situation.
I'm just sad that it ever had to happen.
I hope it never happens again, and if it does I will continue to fight for the right thing.
I will always choose hope over anything.
I will always choose the light over the dark...only I can choose my happiness.
If we allow others to affect our lives emotionally then all the good people in this world will allow guilt, worry, and helplessness overcome them.
I say No Thank You princess.