Thursday, March 26, 2015

When Stranger Intervention Hurts


Recently I had the humiliating experience of stranger intervention. It’s the embarrassing moment when people with good intentions get involved in the parenting of your child when they have no clue about what’s really going on.

While on a play date with another mom and her lovely girls, we were leaving an ice cream shop when my youngest son decided that it was time to go home. He was done with the play date and wanted to go home and play his video games since that’s what he usually does after school on a Friday. As he began to escalate, screaming and throwing a fit, my friend offered to take my older kids to the park while I worked with my youngest son to calm him down.

After they drove off, my son slowly deescalated and I began the process of helping him transition to the park. My son sat on a bench refusing to go, stating that he was “not sorry for his behavior.” In response I calmly told him, “That’s fine, you don’t have to apologize, but I’m still disappointed in your behavior.”

Then in front of me, I was startled by a woman’s voice saying, “Are you OK?”

Having the situation under control, I looked up and smiled and said, “No, we’re fine.”

It was then that I realized that she wasn’t talking to me. Once again, she looked at my son and said, “Are you OK?”

My son looked confused, not understanding why this woman was asking him this.

But quickly it dawned on me—she thought I was abusing my son in some way and she needed to rescue him.

My heart sank.

I caught her eye and said, “No we’re fine, my son has autism and he’s upset because he can’t go home and play video games right now. He’s currently stuck on this thought and I’m trying to help him transition.”

From there, she said, “Oh... OK, I work at a doctor’s office and wanted to make sure he was OK.”

As she wandered off, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed and angry. I’m grateful that there are people that step up if a child looks in harms way, but I was totally confused as to why she thought that this situation warranted it. I wasn’t yelling at my son. I wasn’t dragging him or even trying to hold him down during his fit.

It was another moment where our family was misunderstood because of my child’s challenges.

It was another moment where someone put the “BAD MOM” label on me without even understanding the situation.

It was another moment where I was judged unfairly.

And it hurt.