Loud Voices

patti_3 resizeEvery once in a while someone comes up to me after a show and asks me if I really have a son with special needs. I’m not surprised by the question any more and it doesn’t bother me. Actually, I feel bad that people are suspicious and think I might be emotionally manipulating them. It is weird and scary to hear some comedian talk about how their son is missing part of his brain, that he may never talk and he may never be independent. Maybe they think I sound too well adjusted or it’s hard to believe that people say such inappropriate things to me about my beautiful son Declan. I’ve told some of my stories so many times I start wondering if I’m exaggerating.

Yesterday I had one of those moments even I couldn’t believe. I don’t take Declan to church very often. He cannot sit still for very long and he constantly seeks stimulation through loud tapping or exploring things visually. We stayed in the back during the service while my husband sat in a pew with our seven year old son Griffin. Declan explored the foyer, tapping on the walls with a cup looking at the banners and announcements for about twenty minutes while I tried to catch pieces of the sermon. When music started coming from inside the church Declan started humming and making noises I had never heard before. It was thrilling!! It was like he was trying to sing! He ran through the doors of the church and was heading down the aisle. He wanted to get closer to the piano. I stopped him and turned him around and kept him with me while music played. Several times he tried to make a run down the aisles and I held him by the shoulders. A woman behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said “Looks like he’s enjoying the music.” I turned to tell her how thrilled I was with his reaction, that he doesn’t speak and that it seemed like we were having some sort of break through. In the seconds it took for me to say that, Declan started running toward the altar again. Part of me wished I could let him. I wanted to see what he was going to do. His excitement was too cool!

I wish this were the whole story to share. But if it were I would have made it a quick facebook post. “Declan loved the music at church today.” It is a moment I will always remember, but so is the next.

I stopped Declan and turned him around to stand with me in the back and as we made our way to the door a man grabbed my arm and said “You outta’ get a leash for that kid.”

A leash. For my son. For Declan. As if he were a dog. In church. On Easter.

These are the kinds of things people say to me. Which is why I have an arsenal to draw from and was able to quickly respond.

“Next time you want to say something to the mother of a special needs child, don’t. Get a muzzle.”

Telling any parent they outta get a leash for their kid is out of line. I wish I could say I was strong enough to shake it off. But I was pissed. Declan isn’t bothered by these comments. I am.

I have moments every week that make me want to go screaming in to the night. I don’t. I have an amazing husband, two wonderful little boys and I have faith that most people have good hearts. Sometimes good people can say stupid things. I just have to work harder at not letting them sound so much louder than the people who have nice comments to share.