A Letter to the Lady in The Gymnastics Line

Poor boy.

Dear Lady in the gymnastics line.

Yes, my child pushed your child while we were queueing for gymnastics at the local leisure centre. I’m genuinely sorry about that.

You saw how I handled it though. You saw me say firmly, “No, we do not push. Kind hands.” You saw me turn to you and look you in the eyes, apologise sincerely, then turn to your child and ask if she was ok.

You saw me do all of that. I know you saw me do all of that because you looked right back at me. Not in an understanding, kind way but with stony eyes and a stare. Oh, that stare.

Those of us in the mire of special needs parenting know that stare.

You saw my child in his uniform, you could see that he attends a special school. Now, I’m not claiming that his condition gives him free reign to go around shoving people. It absolutely does not. He must learn that it’s not acceptable behaviour, which is exactly why I responded the way I did.

My husband and I realise that discipline is as important with our special boy as it with our daughter. If not, in fact, more so. So we always ensure we pick him up on anything he does that is socially unacceptable. We try to stop it but it’s simply not always possible.

I wonder what you expected though?

Was it for the apology to have come from my non-verbal, autistic child instead of me? For me to have smacked him? Shouted at him? Or did you expect me to go into detail about what brought him to that point today? Perhaps I should have explained how the queue to drop his sister at her gymnastics class is a myriad of sensory overloading factors and that he had reached his limit?

Well sorry, but no.

I responded in a way that was heartfelt and genuine. You chose to respond with judgement. The shame is on you.

This is what a meltdown looks like.

Your child was unaffected by the push, I know it wasn’t right and shouldn’t have happened, but she didn’t bat an eyelid. She will have been well into her gymnastics class, happily doing her round offs and somersaults while my son was still crying over an incident in a line, where he had been driven to the point of sensory overload, hit his limit and pushed your child.

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