Here’s the thing. People sometimes suck. They might not mean to, but we all do it. Yes, dear reader, sometimes even I fail to follow my own life motto of “don’t judge” and invariably suck once in a great while.
Today was not that day, however. Today it was someone else.
Let me tell you a little story.
Once upon a time there was a boy. (Oh lawdy, is she really going to speak about her son AGAIN?! We get it lady! ADHD, yea yea yea, sensory crap, blah blah blah. We know already!)
This boy was given a fancy diagnosis, but just a little one. There were much bigger diagnoses that lived in the realm, but this particular boy just got a little smidge of a few different labels. Nothing life-defining or life-threatening. He was lucky in that he was able to frolic about the kingdom talking day and night about his ideas and thoughts and questions and theories.
Day and night and night and day he talked. The Queen tried to find a device to safely remove her ears periodically, but alas none was found.
This boy grew into a handsome young man who knew his own limits and boundaries. Knew them so well, in fact, he often would question and challenge the grown ups around him.
Some grown ups turned into trolls when the boy was nearby. The Queen cannot vanquish them all, so instead she passively aggressively writes tapestries about it.
My kid had an eye appointment today. Big deal, right? Totally. Except he’s not a typical kid…. or maybe he is, I have no idea. He’s my oldest so (spoiler alert) we don’t know what we’re doing with the first kid yet. Kid 1 is essentially training for Kid 2 and opens that cool judgement door for other parents once you get a little vomit and spit under your belt.
My kid has been himself for a while now… 11 years to be exact. We know him well, he knows himself really well. So well that he has no trouble questioning the professionals that are supposed to help him. Some of these professionals take their jobs so seriously, in fact, that they fail to see that sometimes helping kids with patience and imagination is far more effective than checking off the task list and clocking out.
I’m being vague. I’m sorry. It’s late and I want to sleep, but the scenario that played out today will not stop rotating in my brain.
We get to the appointment. The tech does the measurement tests and the puff test and the whatever else that single machine does test. My kid is fine. The tech is awesome. No issues. We get into the exam room and meet the optometrist and I simply tell her “Hello, just so you know he has some sensory issues and it’s especially tough with bright lights.”
I’m met with a now very common expression of “Uh huh, uh huh, of course”. I go on to qualify, “So he may just need a minute to let his eyes water and he’ll need to rub them a bit, but he will be fine.”
At this point I feel like some people take this as a challenge. It’s as if they think they have the key to “help” my kid be better adjusted. Maybe I read into it too much, but it happens quite often and it’s the visual equivalent of enclosing your fist and cracking your knuckles to ‘get down to business’.
“Move aside lady! I’m gonna make this pansy ass boy into a proper MAN!”
“Just leave him with me for a week and you’ll see how it’s done”
“Sink or swim, lady, that’s what my parents did!”
“Back in my day we just called it like we saw it. Kids these days just need a firm hand”
I’ve heard it all. Guess what? It’s worth about as much as a Donald Trump bumper sticker. Bupkiss. Zilch.
She goes on with her very firm and pushy exam. She does the old, “better 1 or better 2” lens selection process.
I don’t know about you, but for me I usually have to ask the optometrists to slow down so I can actually make an informed choice. I’ve worn glasses my entire life and this is always an issue.
Now take a kid who has auditory processing difficulty. The cynic in me knows exactly what the response to that phrase I just said is. It’s a snort and a “PUH-LEASE! That’s just a fancy way of saying your kid doesn’t listen! This is every kid. Get real lady!”
And you’re totally right. You are. He doesn’t listen because the 27 channels of his own intelligent thoughts that are all coming through at once don’t really want to stop long enough to pay attention to the pushy, grumpy, caffeine-deficient “professional” who is barking strange directions at him.
Auditory Processing is something most regular folk don’t have to think about. You hear something, you either understand it or you don’t, and you move along. Guess what? That’s not a function that everyone has, believe it or not. Some people hear something and then actually need to take moments, minutes even, to literally allow it to sink in. Once it sinks in that does not guarantee action. Then you have to find the correct response within your overworked brain to speak out loud.
As mundane and ridiculous and “millennial” as some may think this is, please get over yourself and understand that it is in fact reality for a lot of people and children.
So instead of saying something very simple like, oh i don’t know, “I’m switching between 2 options and you can tell me which is better, 1 or 2?” [pause pause pause]
What happened was he sat at the lens selector and when she began he said, “Whoa! What the heck?”
her: “It’s just a ___ machine, now tell me which is better, 1 or 2?Better1or2?2or1?”
Like any of that sentence on it’s own, outside of an optometrist’s office, is logical phrased conversation.
He managed the whole thing and does a good job. She didn’t do anything inappropriate or out of line. There’s nothing I can technically complain about. I did not stop her and let him hear me make an excuse for his slower response time to her berating mannerisms. Every time we encounter another adult I do not need to qualify his presence with an explanation that “Just so you know, he has ADHD, so some things may not go according to your plan.” Do I get a heads up when someone is an asshole? “Just so you know, before you speak with this teller you should know that she’s kind of a bitch and she hates Mondays. Good luck!”? No, I don’t. People don’t come with warnings and neither should my kid. Just don’t suck!
Much like it was her lesson today to have some patience, it unfortunately was his lesson that sometimes grown ups who have a title aren’t always going to be compassionate and kind. Why? Because people sometimes suck. We don’t always get to report them, or write them up, or give them yelp stars. We don’t always have to leave comments when we aren’t happy with something. You have to deal with the sucky people wherever you go and whomever you become.
I do not speak about my son’s challenges because I need to justify anything. I speak about it because it’s our reality. There are so many parents who have to deal with tough, hard, incredibly difficult circumstances. We don’t have that, thank heavens. We instead have a nebulous quasi special needs, but more accurately, special considerations. My kid does not have hard fast rules about his limitations. It’s more about the limitations others have on what they will accept or belittle by way of pushing, criticizing, judging an 11 year old’s reaction to the world.
If your work day includes interactions with a kid who you perceive as “difficult”, maybe change your perspective a little and see if you can’t learn something new. I’ve made it day in and day out with him 11 years, I think you can handle 40 minutes.
(Imagine the video of an impatient optometrist and an uncomfortable and squirrely kid is here since I refuse to pay wordpress more $ so upgrade my account just to support one simple video clip)