I remember one mom said loudly, “Why would anyone bring a sick child like that to a public park?” The other moms sitting or standing nearby were in agreement.
“I know," another mom standing nearby said, "he clearly has issues being around other kids. She’s not doing him any favors by bringing him here.”
There were many other cruel things said, but we had already left. Richie and I didn’t need to hear the rest of their malicious commentary. That incident took place during the early years when I still got emotional after hearing these types of remarks. These days, I aim to educate, and the diplomatic language I use usually ignites shame (if the person has half a heart).
Angrily, she stated, “You should have been holding your hand to your heart and honoring the anthem. If you want to be in this country, that’s what you need to do.”
I was surprised. She glared at me as she was walking away, and all I could say was, “Ma'am, he has autism, and…” before I could finish my sentence, my husband came to our rescue.
“He has autism. Who do you think you are coming over here making comments like that?”
“I’m so sorry,” she replied. “I had no idea. He looks so normal. I have a grandson with autism and he’s not as good as your son. I also teach children with disabilities.”
“Then you should know better,” Kirk retorted. He let her have it. “Next time, make sure you inquire before making unwanted comments like that.”
She looked at me and apologized again. “Your husband is right. I should know better. I’m sorry,” and she walked away.
“What?” my husband asked when he caught me staring. “I just love you is all. Thank you,” I said.
He looked at me like I was crazy. “Thank you for what?” He went on about how he better not see that woman again, and he continued to carry on about her insensitivity to our friends. I just sat smiling to myself. Never had he been more handsome or sexier to me than at that moment. Kirk is a wonderful step-dad to Richie, but it moved me to see the advocate in him spring into action.
Everyone is entitled to having an opinion. We’re always going to see something we don’t approve of or dislike. But that doesn’t give us the right to comment and announce our uninvited opinions. Situations like these are a perfect example of how we might only know part of the story. I hope that woman learned a valuable lesson. I hope she puts that old adage into practice: “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.”