Saturday, August 13, 2005

Museum manners

I spent the day with my son at a science museum yesterday, and although he had a good time it left me with an uneasy feeling. I was monitoring him fairly constantly, advising him to give other kids turns, telling him not to push, guiding him from crowded exhibits to less-occupied ones, and generally being the external brain I feel it's so important to be for a child with fetal alcohol effects. Some kids were nice to him, some completely ignored him, some gave him a weird look, some were fairly rude, and I wonder now if their reaction to him was not so much due to his particular disability as to the the fact that he had this mother hovering over him all the time. Dude, uncool! Maybe I was giving out signals that "There's something wrong with this boy! Back off! Let him through!" I don't know. There were other parents that seemed to be manners enforcers; but there was also sort of a free-for-all mentality -- maybe among camp kids especially -- that made it very hard to get a turn if you did not force your way into one. So while I would have my boy stand quiet and wait, kid after kid would just push right on ahead of him. I wound up yelling at a couple of little girls one time, dragging my son (who was offering a very conciliatory "That's okay! I don't care! I can wait!) away from the place where he'd been cut in line. Maybe I should have just left him to his own devices. It hurts to see him taking advantage of other kids, and it hurts to seem him taken advantage of. Do I have to just not look?

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