Children are innocent, adorable, and totally hilarious. A young child’s laughter can capture my heart in an instant. I adore hearing kids say the craziest and profound things – it truly delights me. I admire a child’s honest and blunt heart – adults have come so far from that stage in life. They clearly do not know the wicked yet wonderful world in which they have been born, and it’s so great watching them learn about it and teaching them how life works.
I see children with their parents at the store or at a school events constantly; children are all over. Sometimes they are shy and sometimes they cannot keep their mouth closed for more than a second – I have encountered both types. Either way, they’re adorable, whether it’s hiding from outsiders behind mom’s leg, or shouting things that their parents would rather they didn’t shout. Kids that shout things are typically the kids that make me think, “That kid would be so cool to hang out with!” and I laugh to myself, thinking about the slew of various other phrases that may surface.
While I was perusing the Safeway redbox this Sunday afternoon, I was struck by something that a child said to his mother as they were passing through. Brian and I were just looking to see if there were any good movies in stock, and sadly, there were not. As I was searching through many titles, this woman and her child were conversing and Brian looked over at them as the child said something humorous. While I do not remember the child’s exact statement, I do remember that it seemed like such an incredibly classic thing for a kid to say to his mom, and that made both of us chuckle a bit. Kids are so funny and cute and so much fun.
As we move on from giggling at this classic statement and the mother is on her way through the sliding glass doors, she reverses and looks over at Brian with a fierce look. She whips back inside and harshly says, “Excuse me, could you stop staring and laughing at my child? I don’t appreciate you laughing at things that he says; he’s autistic. I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas!” Whoa. Her biting words were sharp and ice cold. As she hurriedly stormed outside into the cold wind, she shook her head and left us stunned.
My back was turned while this took place and Brian took the heat from her. Where did that come from? Nobody was laughing at her child or making fun of him in any way what so ever. Nobody was staring at him because he’s autistic, which we clearly needed to be made aware of. Nobody did anything hurtful to her or the child. I was unaware that is was wrong to enjoy children and the wonderful things that they say. She assumed that we were teasing her son for saying silly things and felt that it was imperative that we feel bad about it. She assumed that we wouldn’t be enjoying him so much if we knew he was autistic. She assumed we were Christian.
Her assumptions made her build up a lot of hate towards us in those couple of seconds in passing. While we were enjoying her son’s company, she was loathing ours. The fact that she got so defensive so quickly makes me sad for her son – maybe he gets teased a lot at school and that is her natural reaction because she loves him and wants to protect him from hurt. There is no way for her to know that we weren’t teasing him or laughing at him because we thought he was stupid, but there was also no need to be so harsh and make herself seem “holier than thou” by wishing us a merry Christmas after so harshly condemning us for her misinterpretation for our chuckles. Ironically, we were chuckling because his statement was predictable and classic, not because it was out of the ordinary and strange – which is why she thought we were laughing.
I hope that they have a merry Christmas and that she realizes that she won’t always be there to protect her baby. He seemed like a sweet kid in those brief moments that we were together, and he will be okay. Her reaction made sense due to the fact that there was no way for her to know that were aren’t mean spirited ignorant teenagers laughing at her son, we’re simply delighted by children and the wonderful things that they say. Her reaction made sense, but that doesn’t make it okay.
The “holier than thou” act was what really got me, though. Have a wonderful Christmas? Seriously? After attempting to make a person feel like poop, you find it okay to wish us a wonderful Christmas? It was very insulting. Imagine the irony if I were Jewish! What an insensitive comment to make after defending her son for the insensitive teenagers laughing at him. Not that I am Jewish… but she still tried to make herself seem better than the scum that we were assumed to be, by being equally as insensitive as she thought that we were! IRONY EVERYWHERE. Ridiculous. I wish I could’ve said back, “Actually, I’m Jewish. I celebrated a week ago. But a merry Christmas to you!”
Imagine if I were to seriously get offended every time someone had asked me, “Why can’t your mom just drive to the school?” or “Can’t your mom do that?” and so on. Or how about ‘your mom’ jokes? “Your mom (insert verb here)!” I would be a very hurt person. Uhm, no.. she can’t do that, actually. But am I going to get in your face about it and say, “Excuse me? My mother has MS. She’s in a wheelchair. So no, she actually can’t, but thanks for asking. Merry Christmas!” NO I most definitely am not. I am not going to assume that someone is mean-spirited and ignorant. I will never assume that! I am saddened that the mother I met in Safeway is clearly a very hurt person and I hope that she will one day be healed and not continually be hurt by things like her misinterpretation of Brian and I.