Author Joni Brown
This story was over a decade ago, but it still resonates with me today.
My daughter was four years old undiagnosed with Autism at the time, but we saw the signs earlier on as most parents do. I did my best as a new mom to be active outdoors in our neighborhood and walked to nearby parks with my daughter. We always seemed to run into our neighbors, a mother and daughter, at the park and I felt comfortable to extend an invite for a playdate at our home one afternoon.
The mother and I had a few commonalities as we were both first-time mothers with girls of similar ages. The playdate started in our living room with some toys for the girls, and us moms sitting at the kitchen table watching and chatting. After about 20 minutes the little girl came up to me and said, “she (pointing at my daughter) told me I had an ugly dress on.” The dress was brown, and my daughter only wore pink at the time, so I believe she was expressing her dislike to a color in a direct comment.
I was thinking to myself, clearly, these two girls needed to figure this small spat out. However, their team was not as flexible that day. The mom was so angry she demanded an apology from my four year old. My daughter did not respond as she was off in her own world playing with toys and carrying on not caring where her friend went.
I will never forget the angry face the mother had when she looked at me and said, “My daughter will never play with yours again, I do not want her around her.” I was devastated at that moment. The playdate went to hell, and I assume my neighbor won’t talk to us again.
Today, and a decade of what I know about special needs and other parents, I would not feel as bad as I felt that day. That mom was protective as a good mom should (maybe a little too protective.) I should have known better to screen personalities before jumping in an intimate playdate situation.
The point is, sometimes you will have people that just don’t get it. Even today, I have learned not to set ourselves up to get burned by others. Our neighbors that accept us will come around and others I don’t get my hopes up. People have insecurities or own personal issues, but it's not worth my energy because the next family will be an amazing fit for us.
Peace out to all those perfect families as I am sure you have other issues that I won't ever understand.
Joni Brown writes about her life raising her daughter that lives with PCDH-19 epilepsy, autism, anxiety and OCD.