Every time I've gone out in a public place in the last few days, I've been holding back tears. I stub my toe, I cry. I drop potatoes in the grocery aisle, I cry. I hit every red light, I cry. You get the picture.
I've been reading all this stuff on autism, forums and articles written by other moms, and somewhere in almost all of them, they have made reference to people making inappropriate comments about The Rain Man. You know... this guy.
(The Rain Man has sever autism. It's actually a great movie- just keep in mind that the Rain Man is extremely impaired).
I was like, no way people say stuff like that. Autism is a huge spectrum of disorders, and to say a child is like the "Rain Man" if they have autism shows a level of ignorance I couldn't believe was common. But apparently it happens.
Today I was in the grocery store doing my typical holding back tears thing with the kids in tow. I feel like M has this giant sign on her forehead or something now- "I have autism." So I did her hair extra cute today and made sure that in a room full of toddlers she would have been the best dressed. I was checking out and the grocer, who I've made small talk with several times while buying my groceries in the past, noticed my gluten free items. She said, "Is this for you??" I said "No, it's for her,"pointing to M. I should have just said yes.
"Wow, she is so young to have a gluten problem, I've never heard of a child so young being on a gluten free diet."
"Oh, she doesn't have a gluten problem, she has autism." I knew the moment the words left my mouth that it was a mistake.
"Oh, what is that again? Is that like the Rain Man?"
"Well it's the same disorder, but not as severe as that."
"Yeah, she doesn't look weird at all!"
I practically ran to my car. And of course, I cried. I've been talking to God ever since, letting Him know exactly how I feel about this whole thing... that it's not my cup of tea, that He ruined my dreams and I'm dying inside... that sort of thing.
I put the kids down for nap, successfully made gluten free pasta for the first time without ruining it (go me!), then took to twitter and angrytweeted a rant about the stupid grocery lady.
I put my phone down, and instantly, there was a knock at my door. I wasn't expecting anyone.
I opened the door to find a particularly good looking guy only a few years younger than me. He couldn't stop moving back and forth, and his hand was held awkwardly in the air, twitching a piece of pink chalk back and forth. He said,
"Hi, you know that street like two streets up from here? Yeah, that's my street. My parents' house is ten houses, yeah, ten houses in on the left. I'm sorry I talk funny, I just get nervous. And the reason I have chalk is so I can mark the beginning of each street so I don't get lost. But the rain today keeps washing away my chalk so I keep doing circles. But I'm lucky it stopped raining."
I was literally frozen in disbelief. He was holding papers. Was he about to try to sell me something? "Oh that's okay, I don't mind, and I don't think you talk funny. What can I do for you?"
"Well I speak Spanish, or I'm trying to learn, I'm a Spanish major at ASU. And I'm going to South America with my church in June. I'm going to teach English to the kids and they're going to teach me Spanish. So it works out perfectly. They learn, I learn. So I'm selling books to raise money to go. I'm a good salesman. I've raised $8500, the most of anybody in my group. But I'm getting kind of tired of talking to you guys about these books. I've been doing it for six whole straight weeks. You guys get kinda boring after a while."
It seriously took everything in me not to laugh and cry all at the same time. He had no idea that what he was saying was a teeny bit rude. He had no idea that he was talking so fast I could barely understand him. And he definitely had no idea that his hand was moving around uncontrollably the entire time, clutching his pink chalk.
This good looking guy, practically my age, in college, with physical and mental setbacks seemingly more severe than M, was happy and a successful salesman who loved God and couldn't wait to go teach English to kids in South America.
I wanted to hug him so, so, so badly.
You have no idea how much hope and joy you just brought me in such a dark moment, I wanted to tell him.
Honestly, I'm still shaking. I feel like God just knocked on my door and showed me that life goes on. M will go on, and she will be GREAT. She has the people in her life she needs most, and we can provide her the tools she needs. And she will have such an impact on people. She will bring hope and joy in the darkness, too.
Thanks for coming to my house today, Jesus. <3 I needed You.