JP loves to eat at Grill Marks and walk around downtown. On the nights Preston has baseball, we hang out together. That’s the part I love. The one on one time.
Our house is full of kids all day every day. I cherish these nights.
“Alone time” with JP looks something like this. Me watching him watch Tik Tok videos or listening to his music. (He shows me one thousand videos and I pretend to think they’re funny).
Typically I use this time to check/respond to my emails, make notes for a story or blog post, and catch up on social media.
All the things neither of us have time to do during the day.
Not all people with autism have issues with eye contact and conversation. JP does. Hanging out with him is usually nothing more than just being with him – the same room, same booth, or walking in the same direction. He keeps in his headphones, happy as a lark.
I’m happy because he’s happy.
At the restaurant last night, I noticed an older couple watching us. JP on his phone, me on mine. I couldn’t hear everything they were saying, but I did see the woman roll her eyes and tell her husband how “sad it is that parents can’t put their phones down long enough to talk to their kids anymore.”
If I were a different type person, I would have jumped up and walked over to them. Emotions were bubbling up on the inside, and my heart was racing.
I’m not the confrontational type, so I ignored them. (If nanny Faye had been there, I’d be reporting an entirely different story!)
I laid in bed last night replaying the scene in my head.
If I was the mom who confronted ignorant people, I would have told the lady that JP has autism, ADHD, and an anxiety disorder. When our school day is over, he uses his phone, iPad, and music to decompress. Music and iPad puzzles help him stay relaxed when he’s in public surrounded by people.
I would have told her that we are together 24/7 M-F and talk a lot. We read together, mix slime together, and go on weekly adventures together.
I would have told her that, while I post photos throughout the day, I spend very little time on my phone.
I’m thankful I don’t have to work a 9-5 office job, but I do have to spend time on my phone (my ‘laptop’).
I would have told her that sitting at a table with JP in his favorite restaurant fills my cup and she should mind her own business.
Clearly I let these strangers get to me.
This experience should serve as a reminder to all of us that things are rarely what they seem.
We don’t know the whole story. We judge the book by its cover.
JP was completely unaware. Thankfully. The rest of our night was a dream. We did all of his favorite things…
From the outside looking in, our story might not make sense.
But if you’re not willing to jump inside the pages and get to know the characters, it’s best not to write a review.