I recently found myself eyeballs deep in awful comments from ableist parents of average kids. These comments were spread across different forums and topics. Comments ranged from “everyone is a little autistic” to “helicopter moms are so annoying.” Oh, and how could I forget- “kids with behavior issues shouldn’t be allowed in classrooms.”
Between those comments and bad experiences in real life, it had me thinking back to the days of peak parenting struggle. When unzipping my skin and running away seemed like a pretty good solution to the chaos. Rather than writing an I See You post to the not-so-average bear moms- because this whole site is for you. I wrote this letter to the average bear moms of my past and present, offering advice for the future.
Some mommies don’t teach their kids politeness
Dear Average Bear Mom, I Saw You
I saw you stare and tell your kid not to stare when my kid lost his shit upon entering the grocery store. Combative- pulling, screaming, swatting, biting, trying to run away.
What you couldn’t see is how his brain makes little things more important than it should. The bright lights, mixing smells, faint hum of the intercom, crashing carts, chatter of voices- real and electronic, and scanner beeps- causing an overloaded system in a child who doesn’t know how to handle it alone and a mom who’s still learning.
I saw you and your mom friends sitting on the park bench, sipping your lattes, snickering because I was that mom. The helicopter mom.
What you couldn’t see from your perspective, both figuratively and literally, is although I love playing with my kid, I look forward to the milestone of being able to sit the fuck down. You can’t see how my son’s challenges with spatial awareness, motor skills, and strength make a crowded playground a physically dangerous place. You also didn’t see your kid bullying my son.
I saw you pull your kids away to another activity when they asked, why does he talk like a baby?
What you couldn’t see is apraxia. In your haste to pull your kids from diversity, you didn’t see that my son knows sign language and was eager to talk to your kids with me as his translator.
I saw you whisper to your kid, he has special needs, after your kid looked at my son and called him weird for how he displayed his excitement to meet a paleontologist.
What you couldn’t see is his incredible abiltity to name and identify vast amounts of dinosaurs before he could say simple words.
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You Heard Me
I know you heard me when I said- staring is rude, be a good role model.
I know you left the park because I made you uncomfortable. You heard me tell your kid- either be patient and kind or introduce me to your mom.
I know you heard me tell my son- some mommies don’t teach their kids politeness.
I know you got mad when I told your kid- if you’re not weird, you’re plain and will grow up wishing to be weird instead of ordinary.
What you can’t see is how I’m teaching my son social appropriateness. I’m using your kid as an example of how NOT to be an asshole.
How I handle a Bully + Bully-Prood My Child
We’ve Grown + You Really Haven’t
My son has grown and developed into a well-regulated, polite, socially aware chatter box. Despite having grown into a mom who can stand back a bit while sipping my latte, I often prefer to play. You’re the mom who acts surprised when I mention Liam’s conditions and declare how you would’ve never known. Yet your still the mom who’d opt to discourage friendships rather than facilitate their growth.
If You See Me, Say Hi
Don’t be one of those moms- the mom who sits with her mom friends, unwelcoming to the mom who just traipsed in with her not-so-average bear in tow. Maybe you can’t see the child’s differences, but you can sense it. You recognize the signs- the if, then conversation, the cardinal list of to-dos, the body language you see as weird, the hovering. Helicopter mom and her not-so-average bear has arrived. Trust your child noticed too. They also noticed your exclusion and they will follow your lead.
Tell your kids the truth- that parenting is hard AF and all kids are a handful.
The next time you see me, know that behavior is a form of communication. Tell your kids the truth- that parenting is hard AF and all kids are a handful. Maybe even give them an example of a time they acted like a shithead. The next time you see me, say hi and introduce yourself. Chances are, my kid has already introduced himself to yours.