Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Lesson #2: Don't judge other parents
Carver is NOT napping at the moment and I'm here supervising that little bit of rebellious behavior. I might as well be productive about it, right? Lesson #2 comes next because it's the next one on my mind. No order to this whatsoever. Check out Carver and I in this group shot from last summer's trip to Disneyland. It's a great one for this topic.... :)
And I'm going to be honest here. Don't we all see kids behaving badly at the park, in the store, where ever and wonder what their parents are thinking? It's only natural to assume that the 5 year old making a scene in church has never been taught reverence, right? And that 4 year old with a pacifier is over-indulged and babied by parents who won't help him grow up? Wrong.
Carver's disabilities don't show. He doesn't look different from other kids, most of the time. He wore his SPIO suit for awhile and sometimes he has drool or yogurt on his shirt that most 3 year olds don't have. But otherwise, his disabilities qualify as "invisible." So when we are at the park, in the store, at the doctor's office - other people see his constant physical motion, inability to follow directions and tantrums as signs of bad parenting, right? Probably. Sometimes his behaviors give clues to other parents that there is something wrong and they might ask, they might not. But plenty of other times they wonder why we can't control this kid who looks like he must be 4. But his disabilities are REAL and so we look and sound different from other families sometimes. I'm sure lots of people have come to inaccurate conclusions about us because they only know part of the story.
So if Carver's difficulties are invisible, what else might be? How about sick children? Maybe they missed their naps, maybe they are going through a difficult phase, maybe whatever activity we see them in happens to be the hardest part of their day. We might be seeing someone at their very worst. Or maybe it's just a huge success that they made it out of the house that day, for whatever reason. There are so many invisible challenges, so much more to everyone's story than what we see in a brief conversation or even in an afternoon at the park. I'm trying hard to remember that and I'll tell you what - my perspective has really changed as I look around and give parents the benefit of the doubt. I'm pretty sure we're all just doing the best we can. Until you know the WHOLE story, it's just not time to judge.