By Kim Rossi
Yesterday, Isabella and I were in the Stop & Shop replenishing the pantry after the holiday weekend. The trips are painful enough given the ever growing bottom line on ever shorter receipts. Miss B is able to say a few words including "Hello" and "Mama." I've quipped, she has the two best words ever. But it's not really funny.
Bella vocalizes "HELLO" as we go about the store. Sometimes she startles people. I understand that. They turn and look at us. I nod and we move along. Often, people say "Hello" right back. I always thank them. Yesterday, I heard a man at the deli counter holler "HELLO!" and then laugh out loud from across the produce department.
Fellow parents, you know that feeling when your autism radar goes WHOOP WHOOP in a state of high alert? I knew in an instant that he was making fun of Isabella.
Oh dear, dear.
I can count on one hand the times I have confronted someone who disrespects my daughters. Once, 15 years ago at the world famous Frank Pepe pizza, a young couple with a baby in a carrier kept staring at us while we ate. Staring. And glaring without a hint of a smile. As we left, I walked past their table and said, "My three daughters have autism and are doing the best they can. The rate is 1 in (whatever it was back then) and you had better pray to God and Baby Jesus that your beautiful baby isn't one of them." The young Dad JUMPED up out of his seat, pushing it back, as if he was going to fight me. We left.
Back to yesterday. I paused, then walked with Bella over to the man and said, "I heard you yell, "Hello." Are you making fun of my daughter? She has autism and this is all she can say." He startled. "I know that. I know. I wasn't making fun of her. SETTLE DOWN." Ha! He told me, Kim Rossi, to settle down! Between us, I could have knocked him into the next county. Literally. I am a martial arts instructor and teach 5 days a week. My training gives me the discipline to NOT throttle him. He was short, in his late 60s with shoe polish black dyed hair.
I did not knock him into the next county. I do not look good in an orange jumpsuit.
Continue reading "Unsettling" »