Made a loooong list of errands to do with the kids today and in my best attempt to help them through this moving tsunami that will eventually carry us to North Carolina, I drew pictures and big check boxes beside each action item and let them tick off To Dos to Dones as we pushed along. After picking up a carload of packing materials and boxes (and waiting patiently in the understaffed U-Haul store) we ended up having to drive a half hour farther than originally planned to drop something off at my husband's office that he had forgotten. Being that far down I-95, I squeezed in another detour for work. Realizing I was now pushing it on a hot day, I then treated the kids to lunch at a nice café where we met not only a friend but also the family that camped beside us recently on our vacation. It was exciting — in other words, despite friends and mango sorbet, we were still precariously close to sensory overload and it was showing.
And then I saw her. Sitting in a corner bench, a weathered woman was intently focusing beady eyes on me, trying her scowling best to pierce my attention and deliver her sharpest look of displeasure and judgement. I ignored her of course. Dissatisfied but hardly deterred, she delivered a sugary compliment to a compliant little golden haired girl sitting beside her telling this child how well behaved she was as she flashed dramatically contrasting glares — as if I might have failed to notice the difference in the way she regarded this child from the way she had mine.
I was so seriously tempted to address Hairy Eyeball right then and there. I might walk up and say, "Hey, Hairy Eyeball, yes, I see you. And I just wanted to say that you really should do something about that wrinkled skin of yours. It is nearly sagging off your face. Don't you know that young faces are so much more popular and pleasant to look at, I don't know why you let yourself grow old — and if you think that judgement is unfair, then maybe you might reconsider scowling about my son, because that's what high-functioning autism looks like." But I didn't.
Silver Lining: My friends were kind, understanding and welcoming. One even offered to take the children for me. And that's what matters. I have plenty of reasons to smile and not scowl, at anyone, even the old Hairy Eyeball. And honestly, it is the friends standing between me and her that truly do make all the difference.