Thursday, May 26, 2011

Insult me before you insult a helpless child with autism...

If you know me (Annie), you know it takes a whole lot to offend me or to "ruffle my feathers" so to speak. I was raised in a laid back family where we don't raise our voices, we don't like much conflict at all in fact (it makes us uncomfortable). We are California Koole (I'm so funny). Well insults really do wash away like water, UNLESS they are directed at my child.

I wanted to post this for a couple reasons. First to vent (which is terrible I know, but I love to write so this works for me). I am not complaining, I'm sharing my heart I promise:) Second, to remind anyone who may read this that there is a HUGE lesson to be learned about human kindess and understanding, so here goes:

Bella is Autistic. She's also 2.5 years old. These two factors do not equal "eating out" especially when daddy is out of town doing Chaplain stuff but, sometimes it's nice to try to do something normal you know? Going to a pizza joint sounded easy enough today? Because Bella has a hard time sitting still for more than 4 minutes at a time (and hates to be buckled into anything), the highchair was like prison at our local pizza place. But, that's ok... I had pre-orded a gluten-free/casein-free pizza (from another pizza place mind you) to have ready to eat as soon as we sat down (keeps her occupied with no wait time). The bland pizza was not a huge hit for Bella...per it tasted like poop (I tried, and can confirm). So, I brought various toys, books, ect. It was not working and she was fussing *as per usual when we go out to eat....

..Enter foursome sitting a couple booths away..

These two couples were in their 50's-60's (we'll call them the "Others) I would guess (probably have themselves raised a few children). I, at this point, have already asked for my check at 10 minutes into our meal to make a "smooth get-a-way" with Bells when I hear....

The "Others"- "They have dog muzzles, someone needs to put a muzzle on that child"

This is after numerous DEATH stares and gasps in horror at hearing my daughter cry. I tried to ignore them, I really did. But, when they didn't stop talking about my dearest love in the world...the little person I live and breathe for (who cannot defend herself), I got up and walked over hoping something nice came out.

Me-"Hi, just so you know, my child has a disability so sorry about that" --- pretty nice right?

That is all I said at that point, I was so proud of myself for remaining calm. I turned and walked away and grabbed Bella (while the remarks continued). Then, I reached the hurt point...not for myself...I was hurt for Bella. I grabbed Bella, went back over so they could see her sweet face and said...."Oh, and by the way, next time you talk about putting a dog muzzle on a child, you may want to think twice because they might be autistic".....

To this the "Others" say: "Well, maybe if your child would shut up for one second, we could hear eachother speak"....


....Because I was so angry at that point (and I was ready to take someone out), I turned and left the restaurant. I got to the car, gave Bella a big hug and kiss...."it's not your fault baby"...then I cried. I immediately called her Chaplain father who remarked that he was glad it was me that was in the restaurant and not him because, well.....

....Then he said something sweet. He said it wasn't worth it, not even worth the tears or the time. That they were sad, mean people. That I said the right thing and that it doesn't change anything about our girl. He's right.

I write this today because life as a parent of a child with autism is not easy, in fact some days it's down-right tough. Next time you see a child acting out, cut the parent a break. Consider that they may have spent hours that day doing therapy working on tantrums? Consider that their child may have had a couple hour meltdown that was totally inconsolable after therapy? Maybe they are a military family? Who knows their story? Be sensitive. Be Christ-like.

I pray for those people. That their hearts would be softened --- whatever made them so hard must have hurt--- so badly that they needed to insult a helpless child. We move forward better because of this... after all, didn't we insult Christ, and hang him on a cross--- and he was our Savior!

Forgiveness is mine today:)

Annie & Bella


  1. Oh heart breaks for you and Bella as I read this:( I know exactly how you feel as I've gone through similar situations with Brady...they are 2 peas in a pod and we HAVE to get them together sometime SOON! He will give her kisses all day long as he loves pretty girls like Bella! You took the high road, even with your comments to the "others", and I'm proud of you! The Lord knew exactly how you felt and He gave you the words to speak to those people. He loves Bella just the way she is...after all He created her! He created every fiber of her being!

    Kisses for sweet Bella!

  2. your patience, your love and your spirit are (and always have been) such an encouragement to me, annie. you radiate Christ's love. everyone feels it. bella is so blessed to have such an amazing mother. love to you, dear friend. thank you for your example.

    love, leah

  3. They were completely rude! So sorry, we love Bella and if she gets frustrated she has to let you know somehow.

  4. I am so proud of you in every way. Your courage to stand up to defend and forgive are so encouraging. :)

  5. ....This post fills my heart with an infinite amount of sadness that cannot be described in words. I bet some of those folks are "pew place holders" as well.

    Imagine how much they could have made your day if just one had walked over and said a kind word or even said something like "I understand, I have kids too, aren't they such a blessing"

    This is yet another reason why I am getting my MDIV and going back in as a Chaplain (hence the reason I follow your blog) because there is so much hurt and so much opportunity to show an enormous amount of love with very little effort.

    May God continue to bless your family as you move forward.

  6. Wow! You are a super mama! Not only are you a great mama for your courage, but also holding in mean and profane words!!! Ha...I totally would have said some very inappropriate things! You bring such a good point about giving parents a break. I sit in many a meetings with tired parents who put in their all with very little return. I will definitely think about this post when I see a parent and a child having a hard time. Obviously God was using Bella and those mean people to get you to write this post!!

  7. I am literally sitting here with my mouth wide open in shock at these people. I am so sorry that you and sweet Bella had to hear that. But thank you for reminding us to be Christ like and sensitive to others.

  8. ANNIE. Seriously, you're a good one. I admire your humility to just walk away. I know how I feel about my own students, but to have someone say that about your child is insane. I'm think of all sorts of inappropriate words for people like that right now.

    You are an amazing woman.

  9. You are amazing!!! What a woman of God and strength!!! You seriously need to become a professional blogger for a magazine. I think I cry every time I read a post whether it is heartwarming, touching, heartbreaking or just so full of honesty! You have a gift and you are a light in this dark world! Great will be your reward for the way you can tame your tongue... but I know that sweet little beauty of yours and your loving husband are your reward here on earth. Blessings to you!!

  10. Oh Annie- how awful.... My heart is with you - and every parent who has to fight 24 hrs a day to get their kid services, try to feed them, pray they will make friends, and once in a while - count on the kindness of others. I'm sorry on their behalf - and thank you for the reminder to show compassion....

  11. I am praying for you and your family. What a great woman of faith you are Annie!

  12. Oh my goodness, my ears were getting hot reading this. You responded so well and are being such a wonderful example to Bella. Love you guys.

  13. You are an amazing, strong, incredible mother! I'm so proud of you keeping your cool because most of us wouldn't - especially husbands ;). I'm getting fired up just reading it! Some people are just mean and rude to make themselves feel better. You are a wonderful example of showing God's grace to others when clearly they deserve to wear a muzzle themselves. Love you!

  14. Wow. Thanks for sharing this, however hard it was...I'm glad you took your anger out on your keyboard rather than people who, but for the grace of God, there go you...although I'm a bit unsure of that grammer, but you know what I mean!

    Much love and peace to your big-hearted family.
    XO, SG

  15. My mouth often gets me in trouble especially when someone says or does something negative toward my special kiddo. Hubby jumps between me and said offenders when he is around and I am learning (slowly) to just breathe and ignore their ignorance. It's so hard though. You, however, came through with grace and the love of our Father shined through you.

  16. I just found your website and read this post. I am a military spouse with two boys on the spectrum. Life has been really hard with them, even more so when I am alone, and I have had similar experiences. My heart goes out to you. As a fellow sister in Christ, a fellow navy spouse, and a fellow warrior mom living in VA Beach, I am here if you even need a friend. God Bless, Rebecca Moon

  17. I know these people, not literally, but people who have intentionally hurt and when the Holy Spirit filled strength to NOT retaliate we will walk away more confident in the power of GOD! HE was right there with you, hurting with you and Bella and giving you a lock on the door of your mouth! Praise GOD for the testimony! Leave room for GOD's wrath, which you have done and keep praying for them since that wrath is rough!! love,preston