So, did you hear about that crazy family in
Plainfield? You know, the one whose child was lying on the floor by
the front door of Larry's Diner, screaming at the top of her lungs,
biting her hand until it bled. I heard the parents had to
practically drag her out of there, and she was screaming the whole
time. How can they let their child behave like that? What is wrong
with them? That family is C-R-A-Z-Y!
That family is my family. You would think after years of
being a parent, I would be past getting embarrassed over causing a
scene. People are always staring at us and the kids, trying to
figure them out, trying to figure us out. But today was just
Maybe it was because we haven't had an incident that bad
in a long time. Maybe it was the utter feeling of helplessness that
Ken and I both felt. It was so simple. Soccer was rained out, we
were all in the car, why not take the kids to breakfast? In the
booth, we ordered food and Kristine had her portable DVD player
that we try to never leave home without. Then the bottom fell out.
The DVD player's battery died. Kristine was instantly upset. She
let out a high-pitched scream and put her fingers in her mouth and
bit down hard.
I immediately tried to escort Kristine out of the
restaurant. This made her more upset. She continued screaming and,
when we got to the door, threw herself on the ground. Ken had to
come and force her up and into the car. She's gotten big and
strong, and he could hardly manage her.
Standing out front was a boy and his dad. The boy ran up
to me. "Why was she screaming?" he asked. I looked to the dad to
see if he was going to intervene. He just stared at me as if to
say, "Yeah, why was your kid screaming?" I told the boy, "You
should ask your dad to explain to you about special-needs children
and why we need to have compassion. You should also ask him what is
appropriate to ask people you don't know."
I'm upset because I feel utterly defeated. All these
years, all this work and here I stand with a teenage daughter I
can't control. What if this continues to happen? How am I ever
going to go out in public with her? How are we going to do this? Am
I failing as a mom?
We got our food to-go. I practically ran to the car. In
the back seat, I sat with a bloody, tear-stained Kristine who kept
asking for kisses. Her hand was bleeding because she had bitten it
Fifteen minutes later we were all safely home, sitting at
the kitchen table, eating lukewarm food out of take-out
Ken and I are exhausted. We are scared. We don't know
where the future is headed. But right now I'm in a quiet house. Jay
is sleeping on the couch, Kristine is watching TV, I'm at the
computer pouring my heart out, and in this moment we are all
Deep breath and moving forward ...
Susan Ryan is a mom of two adopted children with special needs in Plainfield.
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