I had occasion for a family outing yesterday. It was absolutely perfect. Seriously, couldn’t have ever asked for better. But I noticed something about myself.
Part of our outing included the feeding of the sting rays. It was amazing. Not only because the kids were wanting to touch the sting rays, but because J wanted to touch the sting rays… he never wants to do that! We went for it.
Feeding time came at 11:50 am. You could see the sting rays getting anxious. One in particular slapped his way around the outer rim of his swimming ring, all along on the wall, almost like he was daring someone… anyone… to throw him a sardine. “Go Ahead! Make My Day!”
$2.63 later, we had our trays of mini sardines ready to feed. Getting these into J’s fist was a challenge. Getting B’s arm long enough to reach into the water (he’s a little smaller than my other two) and getting O to even be willing to put a sardine in between her fisted fingers and stick said fisted fingers into the water for the purpose of feeding a creature she has had little contact with and had little knowledge of, was a challenge as well. But it happened.
And then, there’s the washing. “Things” float in the water… it is, after all the water home of sea creatures. We needed to wash up. Anti-bacterial wash didn’t seem enough for the occasion + anti bacterial soap dispensers strategically placed behind the sting ray pool EMPTY = headed to the unisex / family public restrooms to scrub off “things”.
I love these places. These days, I’m often thinking of Cheryl, and her writings with her son John. This post in particular. Mostly because it rings true. What do you do when you’re of different genders and in need of taking your opposite gendered child into a public restroom?
The unisex restroom had a line outside. Another mom with (seemingly) typical kiddos – one girl, one boy. As we walked by the ONLY unisex restroom, we heard the wrestling of a young kiddo testing the locks on the door… I know that restroom fun… it kinda stinks.
My choices were to have my kids wait. In a hall. For the current occupiers to leave said SINGLE restroom, have the waiting party enter, do their business and leave, and THEN head into the restroom… just to wash hands. Meanwhile, J was making noises and saying random “toiletry” words – something he does when he’s completely overstimulated. OR, take my crew into the ladies room and have all the on-lookers be damned.
I chose the latter.
And herein is where I noticed something. I didn’t look up. I didn’t care (in truth) if others looked at me (and my rather tall 9 year old boy with special needs) and wondered why I would bring a boy into the room. I didn’t look for eyes of disgust, disbelieve or confusion, nor understanding. I tended to my kids. I made sure they washed their limbs (in some cases up to their armpits) because, well, my job at the moment was getting 3 kids cleaned of sting-ray-pool-goo with my mom’s help. That was all.
Everyone else… well, they could choose to take a lesson, gain understanding or acceptance or be puzzled and appalled by my choices, have an pre-understanding, empathy or compassion. Whatever their choice, it’s their choice. I just needed to get my kids cleaned and keep our good day from oozing down a drain of overstimulation.
This hasn’t always been this way. It’s taken 9 years of practice and hundreds, possibly thousands, of situations where I had to make similar decisions. Maybe I’ll keep this idea of how to run through life, possibly it will change… possibly I will accidentally look up one day and see an expression that will turn me this way or that… but this is where I am now.
Where are you with the public restroom / onlookers response… thing?