I’ve said before that I feel as though God gave me Joey to prepare for Patrick.  I was speaking to another mom about this tonight and tried to explain to her what I meant.  Other than academic concerns, we had a lot of trying years between the ages of two and six.  I think one of the things that was hardest for me was taking Joey somewhere public where people didn’t know him or me.  Joey might have been three but he would look like a six year old and his behavior made him look like he was just a bad kid.  People didn’t understand.  I mean, you can’t look at Joey and see anything wrong.  You can’t see a learning disability.  You can’t see an emotional problem.  I received a lot of judgement from other moms.  I found myself responding in one of three ways.  I would either feel like I had to explain to other parents at the park, or I would tell them off if I felt they were being judgmental, or, and I am embarrassed to admit this, I would look the other way and pretend like he wasn’t my kid.

I think one of the worst times was when he was 3 and we were at the Troy Pool.  They have this little kiddie water slide that has cement steps.  This was Joey’s absolute favorite thing to do there.  It was really hot that day and I was pregnant with Ben, so I was content to let him slide over and over while I sat in a chair and watched.  He came down and wanted to go back up.  But there was a long line this time.  He saw Tommy near the front of the line and not understanding he had to wait his turn he started to walk up the steps to be with his brother.  A much larger kid put his arm out to block Joey from going up and told he him couldn’t cut in line.  Joey didn’t understand and responded by shoving the kid down the cement stairs.  Luckily the boy wasn’t hurt.  But what did I do?  I am ashamed to say that I put my sunglasses on, picked up a magazine and pretended like I had no idea who he was.

The next week at the pool he tried to cut in line and the lifeguard walked him over to me.  I explained to him that Joey just didn’t understand and that he has a learning disability.  The lifeguard was awesome!!!  He was a college kid and told me not to worry that he’d help Joey out.  It was really sweet but I felt really guilty for using the disability excuse.

When Joey was playing soccer, the parents on the team would form a tunnel for the kids to run through after every game.  A lot of parents would hold out one hand so that the players could slap hands as they ran through the tunnel.  Joey didn’t quite get it because when he would run through the tunnel he would just put his hands up and slap from side to side.  This usually meant that he hit all of the women in the breasts as he ran through.  It became a joke and I had to talk to Joey about not doing that.  So the next week he held his hands down lower as he slapped them from side to side.  After the game a mother from the other team came up to talk to me.  She told me that she didn ‘t want to get him in any trouble.  She told me that she was sure that he didn’t mean anything by it.  She told me that he didn’t hurt anyone.  Then she told me that when Joey was running through the line he was hitting all of the parents in the stomach.  I gave her my biggest smile and said, “That’s awesome!”  She pulled her head back and looked at me and said, “Excuse me?”  Then I said, “Well, last week when he ran through the line he felt all the women up, so we’re making progress.  You should consider yourself lucky.”  And I walked away.

I’m still learning about the best way for me to respond when other people get upset over Joey’s behavior.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever get it right.

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