What do you do when you’ve done your part as a responsible parent and the world still sucks? I had met the neighbors, vetted them for being good, kid friendly people and I’ve taught my kids who are safe and not safe grownups and then my neighbor decided that screaming at my autistic son past the point of tears was a great idea…
The other day my kids asked if they could play with the kids next door. There was snow on the ground and I told them that as long as they wore their snow gear they were good to go. I usually go outside too. I use this time to clean out my garage, get some lawn care done or play with the dog. But seriously it’s so I can be close enough to listen for red flags before they become volcano explosions of misunderstandings. However like I said, there was snow on the ground and it was freezing outside, and stupid me, I thought watching out the kitchen window without blinking would be sufficient. It wasn’t.
The kids were playing with their friends in the neighbor’s back yard, which gave me a clear view from my dish washing spot. I watched as the kids played in the snow, and broke big pieces of ice off a slide. Together they broke these pieces and showed off how far they could throw- not at each other, just in random directions towards the grass.
After a bit one of the friends went into his house and when he came out, my son Mr. L got called to the back door, which was odd because this has never happened before. But I wanted to assume the best and guessed it was just odd timing, someone from the other house was saying hi and Mr. L went over for a chat.
But it was quick to see that this was not the case from my oldest son’s body language. Even with autism it was easy to see that he was being verbally attacked. So as fast as I could, I slipped on some shoes, my coat and as I ran out the door I silently chastised myself for not sucking it up and just being out in the cold in the first place- or at the minimum I should have been standing in my kitchen, in my running shoes and winter coat, idiot.
As I rounded the corner of their house I was shocked to see that it was the mother berating my special needs son who was already in tears. This house is full of teens so I assumed it was an overgrown child who didn’t understand the situation. No, it was the mom. The mom who fostered more kids then I can keep track of, the mom who adopted many, and said before home schooling she had been a special needs teacher.
What. The. F.
So I came over and put my arm around my son’s shoulders and she then turned on me mid scream and verbally started to attack me! What!? I calmly told her I heard what she had said to my child and that I would take it from there. But she continued to repeat herself about how he was throwing ice at all the children! This obviously was not the time or place to tell her that her child had lied because I had been watching everything. Instead I told her to stop lecturing me.
I couldn’t believe it. I had never had to tell a neighbor to stop lecturing me before. And still she went on like a crazy person who probably hadn’t slept in 27 years, and I actually had to raise my voice and command her to stop!?
I then turned my child, took his hand and walked him home without looking back at her.
When we got inside, I checked on my other two children through the window then I helped Mr. L out of his winter clothes. I sat him down at the table and told him that he did nothing wrong. I kept my words simple and my sentences basic because I didn’t want there to be any guess work from our communication here.
Mr. L was so upset, his eyes were full of tears and anxiety, his hands were shaking, and his feet were compulsively kicking about. I sat across from him, calmly held his hands and repeated that he had done NOTHING wrong. I told him that she had made bad choices.
My sweet, tender hearted child, who has crippling fear of getting social cues wrong, who has a hard time trying new things because he worries he will mess up and be told he did something bad, my child who I want so badly to have reliable friends looked at me and repeated, “I did nothing wrong?”.
I repeated that he did nothing wrong, that he is a good kid. I repeated that she had made bad choices and that she is still a good neighbor, and a safe grown up. But she was wrong today. I told him that she was wrong to yell and with tears he told me, “She yelled at me.” I said yes, she did. I said he was a good kid, and she was wrong to yell.
I then asked if he wanted to go take a hot bath and he said, “I’m a good person!” And I agreed that he was. I asked if he wanted a hug and he nodded once. I hugged him and asked if he had any questions for me and he said, “I can take a bath?” I smiled and said yes, of course. He reverberated, “I’m a good person?” And I told him yes, he was a very good person.
Mr. L then scampered off and my eyes filled with tears. Why the hell had that woman decided to take her bad day out on my child when she knew VERY well that my kiddo had severe autism!? When she has kids all over her place and claimed to have been a special Ed. Teacher herself!?
But then I was back on mom alert as I heard my daughter crying! I ran outside again, to find the neighbors picking on my four year old! I gathered my other two kids, told the neighbor kids something was off at their house that day, that for some weird reason they were all making bad choices and that they would have to ask to play some other day.
The boy who had got my son in trouble tried to make an excuse about my daughter crying and I told him that I knew he had lied to his mother, that I had been watching them all from my window and Mr. L had not been throwing ice at anyone. That in fact they ALL had been throwing ice and I knew he had lied about it to get my son in trouble on purpose. He looked so scared and I took my daughter by the hand, like deja vu and walked home with Mr. C following behind in the snow.
I hate that adults forget how to be civilized grownups. I hate that grownups think that they can treat children however they want like they aren’t people. Where do you think adults learn how to treat others? They learn by how they were treated when they were learning about growing up. If you want good adults running this place you gotta treat kids with respect, kindness, and decency.
I also didn’t enjoy reminding my son that she was a good lady and a safe grownup. Because that was not how I was feeling towards her. But if I take a step back and think if he was running scared, and she saw it, I know she would protect him.
People are people and they make mistakes.
This was not this neighbor’s typical behavior. This lady took care of foster children, she sends texts when she hears we are sick to see if we need anything, and she is usually an easygoing, hands on mother. She probably hadn’t slept well the previous night, she probably was dealing with teenage drama, and unfortunately her son had probably just pressed her detonator button and side stepped her blast and my son was an easy target. Damn it.
She should have known better. You don’t yell at other people’s kids, you don’t yell at adults who are not assaulting you, and above everything ever you don’t make special needs kids cry. I’m mad. I’m frustrated. I’ll give her another chance on another day, maybe a few weeks away, hopefully life will give me months to get over it, but knowing kids it will probably be only days.