Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hating the Woman at Costco

Why is it so easy to hate people?

I mean, why are there so many situations that you come across in life that tempts you so strongly to think that people are mean, idiots? Yesterday Josh and I were at Costco together. Josh hadn't gone to the bathroom in a while and it was the time of the day where he tends to have accidents because it's almost time for his hormone meds. I was actually quite proud of him for not having had an accident. He was being very cooperative in going to the bathroom at Costco.

As we were heading to one of the stalls, a woman, who was about my age, says to me, pointing her finger, "Why are you bringing him into the ladies room? Isn't he a little old?" I stood there for a few seconds with my mouth open, searching for something to say. Mostly, I wanted to rip her head off. Here is someone who has NO idea of all that goes into trying to help this child move toward being potty trained. She has NO idea about how much anxiety I feel about Joshua's future in terms of his independent living skills. She doesn't even seem to register that there is something going on for Josh, despite the fact that he is busy flapping his hands and walking in circles. She just judged and spoke. Nice.

I think I said something about his being visually impaired (which is only a very small fraction of the story) and retreated into the stall with Josh.

I fumed about this interaction throughout most of the rest of the shopping trip. I thought of mean things that I could have said as I put a ridiculously huge amount of food and merchandise in my cart (does anger make you want to buy more stuff?) Then, as I was buying enough bandaids to last until my children are grown, the spiritual lesson came to me. Could it be that I was more like this woman in the bathroom than I cared to admit? The truth is that I judge people's actions as "inappropriate" all the time without knowing much at all about what might be going on for them. Unlike this woman, I might keep most of those judgements in my head but I really do the same thing. I judge people's driving, parenting, or dress based on the tiny bit of information that I have in the present. My thoughts reveal that I decide that I'm the arbiter of appropriateness when I am actually only coming from my own little perspective.

Boy, I probably should try to stop. Who knows? Maybe that lady at Costco even had stuff going on with her. I am going to choose to forgive her and to be more merciful in my own head in the future. It's not easy being a parent of a special needs child. It's even harder being a sinner.


  1. Hi Susan! I just subscribed to your blog. I love and miss your family and am grateful for this window into your lives. Also you are a great writer!

    Hope you are well :)


  2. well said.

    i found that when i was really really depressed and would find myseld spacing out or driving erraticly or whatever i would sort of ask the global communty to "have grace with me because ireally am doing the best i can."

    Yet--of course whenever someone does something i find vile or upsetting (like i find the behavior of Costco woman)... my first instinct is condemnation or at least irritation... not compassion.

    This is a good word Sus: 'The truth is that I judge people's actions as "inappropriate" all the time without knowing much at all about what might be going on for them.'

  3. Hi Susan, I laughed out loud and covered my mouth with one hand nodding as I read your blog. Our Toby, who does not have all the physical issues that Joshua has is a bit unique himself. It's because of his uniqueness I've been in similiar situations. First, the boy is built like a 10 year old about to become a linebacker. He just turned 6. He is "fine motor skill delayed" so when he speaks he sounds more like a 3 to 4 year old. I have wished on many occasions that I had a button I could put on him that says, "Give me grace, I'm a BIG 6 year old." And yes, I used to judge all those mommies of boys in public places that couldn't get their child under control. He definitely comes into the women's bathroom with me in public places.

    God is gracious as he trims off those assuming judging tedencies of mine - I'm so surprised how many I have. And I wish I could go back and apologize to those women I gave that knowing look to.

    It's a joy to read how you and Alex parent Joshua. Thanks for sharing!
    Love, Barbara