Monday, October 22, 2012

Down The Rabbit Hole

I read something over at a moon worn as if it had been a shell the other day.  Something that made me both heart-broken and infuriated.  Elizabeth (the blog's author and amazing mother of a very involved, specially challenged teenage daughter)  encountered an individual so self-centered and ignorant it made me want to scream... scream so loud they would hear me all the way in San Diego.

Encounters with these types of sub-humans - heartless and obtuse - are few and far in between.  Thank God.  They are, I often believe, simply the same person trading faces... with the same withered spiders rattling around where compassion should be.  I think about my own encounters with such people:

The woman in the softball bleachers barking at me to shut my 8 year old daughter up because she was too loud.  (I recall how she looked at me baffled when I told her "Sorry, my daughter has Autism."  She snapped "Well, I don't know what that is!" and brusquely turned her back to me.)

The countless old bitties at restaurants stating loudly that "Somebody needs to learn how to control their child!" when CB has a meltdown during dinner.

The LabCorp bitch who told me she was tired of 'mothers like me' expecting special accommodations for their Autistic Spectrum children.

The manager at Rite Aid who snapped with impatience and hung up the phone on me as I tried to solicit her help - hoarse from the flu, sobbing and exhausted, with my daughter half-comatose in the back seat of the car just discharged from a 4 day stint in the hospital.

And more recently, the mother at the playground who scooped up her children with great vocal fanfare  and left because CB hit one of them.

I also remember one time when CB was 5 and I was in line at Sears.  She began having a violent seizure in her stroller and I bent down to tend to her while the cashier was ringing up the person in front of me.  My body was blocking everyone's view of CB who was so small at the time in the little red umbrella stroller.  Plus, I was quiet and calm so no one knew what was going on.  When it was my turn in line, the male cashier snapped to my back "Ma'am... Ma'am you're next! MA'AM!!" with the exasperation and impatience of a person who feels like they have so many better things to do but in reality, don't.

As I stood to face him, it was as if I drew a curtain on the situation at hand. I saw the moment when his eyes locked on CB's distorted face as she twitched and spasmed and shook; eyes rolled back and body shaking like an earthquake.  "My daughter's having a seizure"  I explained with eerie calmness.  I saw him freeze in terror, his mouth dropping open.  He stammered out a string of profuse apologies as I pushed the stroller with her seizing body up to the desk to pay for my wares.  He continued his nervous apologies, offering lame attempts to help - hands trembling, words careening into each other like bumper cars.  I stood there and watched him blankly as he tripped over himself without offering him a single word of comfort or forgiveness.  I just let him tumble and tumble over himself right down the rabbit hole where he gained a rare glimpse into my world.  His guilt at being initially rude was swallowing him whole, and I let it.  

I paid him as CB came out of her seizure and felt like I was purchasing his humble pie.  The warm glow of something resembling smugness sustained me as I accepted my plastic bag.   Still withholding his need for absolution, I turned from that gaping maw where all his words had clattered onto the floor like a fistful of marbles.  All that I had left unsaid was more than either of us could handle.


kario said...

I find it fascinating that, with only one exception, each of the offenders was female. I'm not sure what that says (except maybe you're right about the same nasty woman running around changing bodies), but when I think about the people who have been the most vocally critical of my children and my parenting, they are almost all women.

That makes me so immeasurably sad.

Alicia (Dr. Mom) said...

kari- i KNOW! as i was writing this post, i actually had that same observation in the longer version of the piece (that i ended up editing down). it makes me so sad too... the very people who should be supporting us are the very ones criticizing... :(

Elizabeth said...

Ahh-- you've made me cry all over again -- this time in the good way, I think -- the way of being understood, of community and solidarity and knowing that while we are alone in many ways, we are also not in the most essential ways. Thank you, Alicia. I am blessed to know you.

P.S. Did you know that's one of my favorite paintings as well?

Alicia (Dr. Mom) said...

nope - i had NO idea! it was a photo i took at the Grounds for Sculpture in NJ. You can walk in behind the woman's face and you are in a therapist's room... its supposed to be like you're inside her head where all the secrets are. REALLY cool.
And it is I who feel most blessed to know YOU :)

Elizabeth said...

The painting is called "Le Silence" by Odilon Redon, and now that I look at what you posted, I see it's a variant of that famous one. Redon was a French Symbolist -- and I saw that painting when I traveled in France after my senior year in college. It always spoke deeply to me -- I think I even posted about it once!

Alicia (Dr. Mom) said...

@elizabeth - i wish we could have countless discussions about art and literature and our girls... the things i could learn and the things we could share :). i guess we must be on the same psychic wave length - strange that i selected that image when your post inspired me. the universe is so mysterious :)

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