Lately, however, I have been feeling a little less than enthusiastic about the adult interaction. J, a mom whose daughter was in Danny's class, comes to the lunch most days, and we talk. The problem is, the conversation almost always turns to something highly negative, whether it is her complaining about her sister-in-law, her son's teacher, or any number of other people, most of whom I have never met. This makes me really uncomfortable. First off, I have been trying really hard (and ok, I have definitely failed a few times, too, but I AM trying) to avoid gossip and negative talk. And secondly, the complaints seem rather ridiculous to me, as if she is actually looking for things to be upset about. I don't know what to do to extricate myself from these discussions. Any advice?
Another issue came up the other day at the lunch. A mother, whose name I don't even know, was complaining about services at the school. Her son is autistic, and apparently she has had difficulty getting services for him. All fine and well. I understand her frustration. What bothered me was that when J was sharing some difficulties she had with her son's teacher (who thought the boy had Asperger's) the mother refused to listen to J. Instead, she plowed through and explained what J should do to get a diagnosis (even though J is convinced her son is not autistic), how it is hard to face the truth sometimes, but that J needed to do so, etc. I guess this made me uncomfortable, because I got the distinct impression that this woman actually wanted J's son to be diagnosed with autism. She spoke as if it were a foregone conclusion that something was wrong with J's son, though I don't think the mother knew anything at all about the kid.
It doesn't help that a couple of years ago this same mom told me Danny was autistic. I know her heart was in the right place, but it really rubbed me the wrong way for many reasons, not least of which was the fact that she had never actually met me or my son before. The only facts she was basing her diagnosis on were what she observed on Danny's school field trip. It was his first field trip ever and he was way overstimulated and had major difficulty calming down. Because Danny was exhibiting some similar characteristics to her son, she was convinced that Danny was autistic.
The woman may have had some really good points to make, but she never even introduced herself; she just went ahead and diagnosed my son, despite the fact that her only experience with autism involved her son.
I understand the impulse to help someone, especially when you think they may be struggling with problems similar to your own. I have spoken to a few friends about SPD when they have told me of challenges their kids face. The difference is I have never actually told someone that their kid had SPD. I just encouraged them to do some research themselves to see if it might apply in their case. Also, it has always been with a friend whose child I knew and it was only after the mom shared her concerns with me.
I don't know. I am not even sure why this particular woman has bothered me so much. As I said before, I am certain her heart is in the right place, but it was just difficult for me to watch and listen as she steamrollered over J, interrupting her and talking over her, trying to convince J to face the truth. I just felt so overwhelmed. So tired of analyzing every single quirk and foible of my children. So weary of talk of development and milestones and why my kid is so different from "normal" kids.
So, I excused myself from the conversation and played some games with Danny and Charlotte.
Which was exactly what I needed to put everything back into perspective.