Monday, September 10, 2012

Wal-Mart Throw Down

I am not a confrontational person.  I really try to avoid confrontation at all cost.  But today at the grocery store, when an older lady decided to offer some free parenting advice during one of Emmy's flailing, biting, head hitting fits I could not simply walk away.  I know she has no idea what it is like living with Rett Syndrome.  It is a unique experience to say the least.  But when she told me I needed to take some parenting classes...well, let's just say that was my tipping point. 

These fits really started during her regression.  She has them at home, she has them at school, she has them at graduation parties (like the one we attended this weekend) and they can come out of no where.  For a while I chalked them up to the fact that she was losing skills and figured they'd get better.  Now I am certain her regression is FINALLY over but the fits continue.  John took her to the Rett Clinic in Minnesota.  They basically told us it was our parenting.  That she should not be on medication.  Now, I didn't take any video of the fits so I guess they really didn't see how severe they were.  And to some degree we were caught up in the emotional aspect of the whole situation and I was really unable to piece apart what was just three year old behavior and what was Rett.  We were concerned that maybe she was in some type of pain so we began treating her for reflux but the fits continued.  We implemented the PODD book so she could communicate's not a perfect system but it's better than only yes/no cards but that hasn't solved the problem either.  We have an appointment with our GI specialist and we asked him to talk to Dr. Motil from the Rett Clinic in Texas.  I am ready to do whatever tests they suggest.  We need to know if she's in pain.  We even purchased a 'Special Tomato' soft floor sitter for her so she can't hurt herself during fits.  This was her birthday present.  Typing that makes me so sad.  A four year old should be getting dollies and playdough not soft chairs so she can't hurt herself.  Anyway, it sits on our family room floor and has been a life saver.  See I can't just set her on the floor and surround her with pillows.  Nope.  She's strong and she can scoot across the floor.  She will scoot over to the wall, TV hutch, pretty much anything hard and whack her head on it as hard as she can, over and over.  So now we're going to see Dr. Heydeman a neurologist out of Rush.  He sees many Rett girls and is willing to prescribe medication if needed.  I couldn't get in until February but after todays episode I called his nurse and begged.  I never thought I would BEG for a doctors appointment but today I did.  The nurse must've felt sorry for me because she worked some magic and got us in this Friday.  Thank goodness! 

So there is the history.  That brings me to today.  The throw down.  I had Emmy and Olivia and decided to go to Wal-Mart to grocery shop because I hate to say it, but they are sooo much cheaper than the alternatives around here.  Emmy LOVES to go grocery shopping.  I usually try and save my shopping for when she's with me.  For some reason it is such a special time for us.  She sits in the cart facing me and we talk.  She helps me make choices and I smoother her with kisses.  I tell her what a sweet, beautiful, smart, brave girl she is and how lucky I am to have a helper on my shopping trips.  She beams.  And I know that one day she will be too big to sit in that cart and face me.  I want to hold on to this time with her.  And Olivia kind of likes sitting in the big part of the cart and looking around but that doesn't leave much room for groceries.  So, I just stuff the food around the edges or underneat the cart.  Well today I ended up with much more than I thought and after I loaded it on the belt for check out I realized I would need another cart to get all the bagged food and the girls out to the car.  I told the check out lady I'd be right back, that I was going to grab another cart so I could fit it all in.  I went and got one of those ridiculously huge carts with two plastic seats for older kids.  I put Em in the big plastic seat.  Now unfortunatly this seat has a back and Emmy is able to hit her head on it.  I should've put her back in the cart seat but I guess hindsight is 20/20.  I rushed back in, hoping the fit wouldn't escalate.  There were now people in line waiting for me.  I tried to quickly  load the groceries and pay.  I knew people were staring but hey, I've developed a pretty thick skin.  I guess I could've just walked away and taken her straight to the car.  Anyway, I was then focused on paying and getting the hell out of there. 

And that's when this older lady approached our cart.  I'm not sure how she started since I couldn't really hear over the yelling (Emmy's that is) but all sorts of horrible things began spewing from her mouth.  She told me I shouldn't have kids, that I need to take parenting classes, that I was basically a horrible mother.  Well I unleashed on her.  To be honest I'm not sure what I said.  It was pure blind rage.  I think it was a combination of sleep deprivation, cold medicine haze and anger all mixed together.  I know I told her my daughter has a disability but it was obvious she wasn't listening.  Now, I have to say I know it is hard for people to watch somebody hurt themselves.  And I hate seeing it too but it is a part of  my EVERYDAY life.  Happy or sad, Emmy walks up to hard surfaces and hits her head...hard.  I have two choices.  Put a helmet on her (and I'm not sure that would really protect her plus I'm sure she'd hate that) or follow her every second of the day.  So I'm calloused.  I'm hardened.  I tell her that hurts, I ask her to stop, I distract her, I put her in a different location, I sit her in her chair and play  her favorite music, I sing silly songs or read books.  But at the grocery store today I think I tuned her out blinded by the sole mission of getting her to the car where I knew she'd calm down in her car seat.  So it was a pretty heated exchange.  Lots of yelling by both parties and the throw down ended by me almost taking her out with my big ol cart while trying to make my way to the exit.  I was shaking mad.

After writing this down though I am grateful, in a very weird, round about way that this occurred.  It drove me to BEG for an appointment with the new neuro.  I don't know if I would've called to do that otherwise.  And I know having these challenges in my life that I will NEVER give unsolicited advice to some poor mother at the grocery store or anywhere else for that matter.  I will not judge or condescend...even if I'm a sour old lady.  Because I know what it's like to live in a world where your heart breaks day in and day out while you watch your child act out of such anxiety and frustration.  So thank you, you cranky old witch from Wal-Mart.  Out of all your horriblness came some good.               


  1. Oh Colleen, I'm so sorry. I, like you, hate confrontation and I'm sorry this had to happen to you. You are a wonderful mother. I often save my grocery shopping for times when Leah can come because she loves it too. She is too big for the front seat of the cart, so she sits in the main basket and we load our groceries around her. She is the best grocery holder in town. :) I hope you can find a solution for Em as I know it hurts you more than it hurts others to watch. I'll be interested to hear how Friday works out!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Colleen. I am so sorry that you encountered such a wretched woman at Walmart! I am so impressed that so quickly you changed your perspective into finding some good from this situation. I know you know that the woman was wrong and crazy and mean, but I have to say it anyways, you are a wonderful mother and all three of your girls are so lucky to have you! I hope that the neuro can help Emmy with this behavior that could hurt herself. Good luck on Friday and let me know if I can keep Olivia for you or pick up Ava after school!!!

  3. oh wow. parenting classes? i wonder what that lady would say to me! i dont even TAKE avery to the store! :) hugs!

  4. Colleen, I teared up reading this because this almost same situation has happened to me twice... I mean I have gotten snide remarks and dirty looks hundreds of times but actually having someone tell me I was a bad mom and/or actually yell at my little girl has happened twice. The first time I was polite and walked away and the second time (last week) I yelled. Both times I felt horrible afterwards, but I also felt proud of myself for standing up... and like you I will never ever judge another mom (or dad) based on their child's behaviour...
    I am so glad that good came out of this horrible situation. I am excited to hear how the appointment goes!!
    Just know you are a wonderful mom! I know that I don't know you, but I 'know' you as a rett mom and you are wonderful!!!

  5. Oh Colleen, I am so sorry you had to deal with that. Love that you told her off though. Little Leen, small but mighty. You are an amazing mom and Emmy is so lucky to have you and Jon and her parents. God knew who would be the best for her, and you are it! Praying for you guys, I forget sometimes being far away from you, but I will do it more. Love reading your blog. You do an amazing job.

  6. Wow Colleen, I am so proud of you! you handled it so much more graciously than I would've! :)You are so right....not everyone knows what parents of a child with different abilities goes through on a DAILY basis!! I am tipping my hat off to you as I type this!!