I got a chance to talk to the neighbor who made my kid cry and I’m going to be honest, I did not enjoy it one bit.
For those new to my blog, about a month ago my kids were playing with the neighbor kids next door and I was watching them from my kitchen window. I watched as the neighbor kid went in, came back out, my son got called to their side door and I watched his body language crumble.
The neighbor kid thought it would be funny to lie to his mom and get my autistic son in trouble. The odd thing was that it was very out of character for the mom next door to yell to the point of making my child cry and then when I came running to stop the madness she turned on me like a screaming fire hose and I had to raise my voice to bring her back to reality.
It was a terrible and confusing situation, and my son has been hesitant to play outside since. Can you blame him? I had basically told my kids that this was a safe adult and then she lost her ever living mind on my child with special needs.
We have not lived in this neighborhood for even a year yet, so we are still getting a feel for the people living around us and now I’m second guessing letting my children play with the kids next door. I mean people have bad days right? But what kind of person who knows your child is autistic goes and does something like that?
Regardless this needed to be addressed. If I end up continuing to let my kids be friends with this family they need to know that can’t happen again. If I eventually decide we need to put some distance between ourselves and this group of humans, then what can I lose in letting them know that behavior wasn’t acceptable? I mean, I’d gain more experience in advocating for my family right?
So the occasion presented itself and I took it. Weeks had passed so any emotional tension on her side was probably over. She reached out to me with a text about something non-related and casually I brought up the previous confrontation. I let her know that if my son did anything upsetting to her that she needed to call or text me before addressing my son so that I could help translate any misunderstandings. Aka she needed to stick her foot in her mouth and calm herself and then I needed to be present before she lost herself again and verbally assaulted my son again.
I’m not unreasonable. I know my kids mess up and I teach them to respect others and to say sorry. I’m not trying to give my kid some get out of jail free card. But I know how he learns and I have a better understanding of how he processes things. I want him to be a good citizen and a contributing member to society. If someone comes screaming at him and if he didn’t realize he was doing something wrong. Then all he is going to learn is that the world is a scary and unsafe place. That people aren’t worth it and friends are unattainable AND that is NOT the world I want him to only see.
I want him to learn from his mistakes, I want him to learn how to rectify situations. Screaming in his face and making him question whether or not he is a good person is not how to do that. Using calm and clear words are the first step, and pausing for him to process is a good second move. But releasing pent up frustrations on a child with special needs who can’t defend themselves or possibly even verbally relay to their parents what happened to them? That starts crossing the line into monster territory.
But back to the story. So I had scooped every bit of political politeness that I had and dumped it into that text. Like I said previously, I let her know she needed to have me present to help her communicate with my child next time she had a problem. I explained lightly the damage she had emotionally caused my son. I let her know that he thinks that she thinks that he is a bad person and how he is hesitant to go outside now. I let her know that he doesn’t feel safe around her home. And then I jumped right back into the original reason she had text me in the first place.
And then I waited. I didn’t want to leave my last text telling her that she messed up. That’s why I had swung the text pendulum back over to not important stuff. But still I waited. I did laundry for close to 20 min before she responded. I had given up at 15 min and assumed she was pissed. I mean I didn’t care for my sake, but I know my middle child loves playing next door. So I was going to feel bad for him if the mom next door had just voted us off the island.
But I was surprised when she came back with a “shocked and surprised” text telling me she was sorry and that she didn’t want my son thinking that she thought that way about him and how she understood how hard it can be for kids to feel good about themselves and that she would keep me in mind next time.
It wasn’t the perfect apology, but it was one. So I’ll count it. If nothing else she knows now that I wasn’t ok with what she did. She knows that she negatively affected my child. And she knows that if it happens again in the future that I already told her once that it wasn’t ok. Which gives me room to be more openly angry if she crosses my autistic child again. The optimistic me hopes that she will in fact text me next time. The hopeful me aims for Mr. L to forgive and be willing to even give the neighbors a chance in the future.
But I did it. I stood up for my son to someone that we have to see regularly, who legally doesn’t have to listen to me. I did it nicely but was straight forward. I really hate doing this stuff. It might seem like from reading my blog that I get some kind of high because of how often I find myself in these situations, but I don’t. I hate it. But I hate even more, people getting away with treating my family unjustly, and having a child with special needs just seems to give us more then are fair share of these situations.
Right after it had happened, I had a friend at my local library tell me that I needed to say something to that lady. I knew he was right, but I just didn’t know how to do it without causing an even bigger problem. However I’m grateful this situation presented itself and that I was able to stand up for my son.
I don’t want my son to see every time I stand up for him. I don’t want him to know that his school discriminated against him and I had to fight for his school picture to be taken. I don’t want him to understand every time I have to get after a kid because some random kid’s dad didn’t teach him how to be a good person. But I do hope he sees it sometimes, like when I told this neighbor to drop it at the time, and that I took command of the situation and protected him. Because I want him to not only understand without a doubt that I have his back and that I will always go to bat for him. But I want him to learn for himself how to advocate for himself and how to stand up for himself.
One more point for advocating. One more win for today, and one more Oreo and bubble bath I earned for myself 😅