Saturday, I took Max to an event at a museum. I had encounters with two strangers who more or less embody the range of people I've met since becoming a parent of a kid with special needs.
Max and I headed to the bathroom. The four empty stalls were on the small side, and I have to go in with him to help. The stall for people with disabilities was occupied, and the person inside was taking their sweet time. Max kept doing the potty shuffle, shifting from one foot to the other. Finally, a young woman emerged and walked over to the sink. No apparent physical disabilities.
I glared at her.
"The problem with using a stall for people with disabilities if you don't have one is that if someone disabled comes into the bathroom, you force them to wait," I said.
She looked at me, startled.
"Why are you upset?" she asked.
"Because my son, who requires assistance, had to wait when there are four empty stalls you could have used," I replied.
"You could have knocked!" she responded.
If Max hadn't had to go urgently I would have explained the problem with her logic, but I just grabbed his hand and went into the stall.
And then: There was an area in the museum where kids could roll around on floor scooters. Max stood there, watching. The attendant asked if he wanted to try. Max had a hard time getting the hang of it. I helped steer him as the guy offered pointers. At one point, I left Max and headed to the cashier to pay—the ride cost three bucks—but the guy stopped me.
"That's OK, he's just trying it out," he said. "The exercise is good for him."
"That is so nice of you, but I'm going to pay because he is using a scooter," I said, and I did.
Later, Max returned. "He can try it some more," the attendant said. And he let him go and go to his heart's content. And Max did get how to do it, and I gave the attendant a big smile and he smiled happily, too.
People who get it. People who don't.
I'm lucky to be mostly surrounded by people who get it, or who are open-minded to getting it.
And I will always open my mouth to people who don't...until the day comes, hopefully, when Max can stand up for himself.