And Sometimes There Are No Dirty Looks

We took a little trip last weekend to visit some friends.  A little weekender to get away, hang out, do nothing special with friends who moved away but with whom we are still close.

Of course, we flew.
Those of you with special needs kids…. or heck, KIDS of all types…. know how nerve wracking traveling with children can be.  The chaos, the lines, the overstimulation… and that effect is just on me!  YIKES. So we planned ahead.  Family security line: check.  First on plane to settle in and avoid standing in a line: check.  Snacks, activities, toys, movies, iPad: check.
A very excited little man: check check.
And he was perfect.   By all standards, he was absolutely perfect.  He sat well, following important directions, was engaged and interested in the experience, able to be distracted and coped beautifully with the overwhelming experience of traveling.  So much so that when we landed, the lady sitting in front of us turned around to speak to me.
At first, I mentally cringed a little.  I feared she was going to complain because J-man had been kicking her chair or something.  He wasn’t, but you know….  reflexively defensive instinct, I suppose.  But instead she complimented him on what a wonderful job he did on the trip, and how well behaved he was.
Uh, what?
Not that J-man wasn’t well behaved.  He was amazing.
But did I just hear someone praise my child on his behavior?  Really?  Did that just happen?

I think I mumbled a surprised “thank you”.

After disembarking, we had a quick potty break where the woman again approached me and repeated her compliment.  I told her that J-man was on the spectrum, so that makes her compliment extra sweet since it is a greater challenge for him than most.  She mentioned she was once a special education teacher and that clearly we are doing something right.   After she left, she apparently found Dan in the hall waiting for us and repeated her compliment to him.

YIKES!

You know, I think that was the first parenting compliment I have ever received.  Or at least, my first compliment from a complete stranger who did not know J-man’s backstory.  I think most special-needs parents get the evil eye because our children do have difficulty in public for a variety of reasons:  overstimulation, difficulty understanding social norms, difficulty communicating, anxiety, and so on.  Our kids tend to have difficulty behaving “as expected”…  as a well behaved neurotypical child  (and note: Not all neurotypical children behave well.  Just saying.).  Anyway, we receive more than our fair share of the Hairy Eyeball.

So to have the opposite.  To get a compliment.  And to know that somebody noticed all of his hard work….  well, it warranted a blog post.

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