Recently, I have been musing on the "looks" that appear to be directed my way when my boys are behaving in ways which sit well and truly at the upper end of the chaos continuum.
Last week, I arrived at my eldest's school for pick up in a state I can only describe as "frazzled" with my eyes glistening with moisture! I was acutely conscious of the furtive glances of some of the other parents as the littlest repeatedly screeched and I struggled to get him out of the car, into the pushchair and through the school gates! Those glances felt laden with judgement. Was this real or imagined? I cannot be sure but the lack of eye contact and fact that people looked away as I approached strongly suggested that I was not just being oversensitive. However, rather than holding my head up high and walking confidently, I found myself looking at the floor and allowing myself to be lured into the "walk of shame".
I realise the other parents cannot know what is going on, after all my children don't look any different from other children and I cannot explain. My boys' stories, their quirks, their idiosyncrasies, their challenges are theirs and not for public discussion. However, I want to shout out loud that my children are not misbehaving at will but that they are doing the best they can.
I want to stand on my metaphorical soap box and explain that the littlest can sometimes struggle with the smallest of transitions, or that he can be frightened of an everyday sound such as a car starting up and that the way he reacts is un-predictable. I want to advocate for my eldest and let the other parents who are looking on as he becomes more and more hyper know that having made it through the school day, his ability to regulate his emotions is more or less exhausted. I want to explain that he doesn't have the reserves that other children may have to make it to the car calmly.
There is also a part of me that wants to defend myself and explain that I am not a bad parent, that it is not as black and white as me letting my children run riot and that I may have to use different approaches to parenting as adopted children don't always respond to traditional styles.
Most of all I want to look into those judgemental eyes and ask for compassion, to challenge the person behind those eyes to step into our shoes just for just a moment and to think about what might lie behind what they see in front of them, that there might be a story that cannot be told. There is a letter entitled, "Dear Parent, About THAT kid" which sums this up better than I ever could and which can be found at the link below.