So yesterday my company had this crazy Halloween party for the employee's kids. We have this sort of grassy park-like area on campus, and my company hired a party company who came and set up a bunch of Halloween decorations and games, craft stations, a photo booth (complete with green-screen so you could pick your appropriate background, presumably depending on your costume), and there was even a buffet of snacks.
It was a really great party. My boss told me I was welcome to come, even though I didn't have any kids. I thanked her, but explained that one of the reasons I don't have kids is that the kind of chaos that ensues at Halloween parties sort of terrifies me. But I did go check it out. And it really was a pretty awesome party. And I was terrified by the millions of children. Or 100. Even though they were adorable in their costumes, there were about 98 more children than I can handle at any given time. Ninety-seven if they're sleeping.
After work, I went to the gym. There was a mom (Pocahontas, actually) in the dressing room trying to get her kid changed. And he was being difficult. He was probably four or five and he wasn't throwing a full-blown tantrum, but he certainly wasn't cooperating. And from the way he was speaking, I'm pretty sure he was autistic, although he also sounded like he may have had a hearing problem. I tried to look at the kid to see if there was something wrong with him (and by using the word "wrong," I realize I sound like a total asshole), but it was hard to tell because he had blue paint all around his mouth. Or maybe blue frosting.
Pocahontas was trying to keep him on the other side of the partition in the bathroom from where I was. I wasn't sure if she thought I'd think it was weird to change in front of a boy, or if she didn't want her son watching me change. On the former, I really don't care. I change pretty quickly, and if the kid's in the locker room, chances are he's been in other locker rooms with women changing. If it was the latter, though, that's Pocahontas's prerogative I decided to just change in a stall, figuring that would sort of solve for either scenario. Except the kid tried to crawl under the door to my stall. This wasn't particularly bothersome to me, but I sort of felt like, lady, I've helped you out here as much as I could.
Apparently, Pocahontas wanted her son to change his shirt, and so they were waiting for Dad to bring the clothes. And the kid wanted a brown shirt (he kept shouting "brown shirt, brown shirt"), but his option was a red one. Whatever. Pocahontas did a great job of remaining calm, and honestly, I didn't think the kid was being that terrible. I mean, he had just been to an over-stimulating Halloween party with a bunch of games and sweets and it was almost dinner time. It sounds like a lot of fun until it becomes a meltdown. Even if the kid wasn't autistic, which I still think this was.
I really feel like there should be a code for this sort of thing. Like I could say a magic phrase like "purple monkeys" and the mom would know that I knew she was doing the best she could and I wasn't judging her or anything, and really, it wasn't a problem to me at all.
I don't want kids because I don't want to deal with meltdowns (among many other reasons), but I know that even good kids with good parents are going to have a meltdown at some point. I just want a way to communicate that I understand all of this, if that would help ease the pressure to get your kid under control. I mean, no parent wants to be the parent who's kid is throwing a fit. I just want a way to let you know that I know that, so you can carry on the business of tending to your kid without worrying that your kid is making me mad. Because he or she isn't. Because it's better you than me.