Finding Ninee » Sharing our parenting and special needs stories with heart and humor.

It took seeing my son in public to know he’s not typical

It took seeing my son in public to know heIt wasn’t until I was In Public that I realized my kid wasn’t typical. It wasn’t until I saw him with other children that I realized he was different. As some of you may know, I fully planned on putting Tucker in daycare once he was four months old. It’s what the cool moms that I knew did. He was born. I was almost 41. I had a good job. Money. Identity. Pride.

None of which mattered any longer once I laid eyes on my new baby. I quit my job because I realized that there would never be anybody, or anything, that would come remotely close to making me feel like I was Important both in private, and in public, the way my son did. Has.  Does. Every single day. He’s my Best Good Thing.

The thing is, if I were raising Tucker in a cave, as it possibly should be (or not because omg I need my iPhone), I would never know that he’s different. And maybe? Maybe that’s better. Because he’s totally perfect. Imperfect. Not typical. But perfect. So maybe, possibly, Public sucks. Maybe, Public and Comparisons are completely wrong and bad and do absolutely nothing for the development of ourselves and our children. While I type those words, I believe in them. Why we subject ourselves to books and emails talking about where our babies, who are the future of the planet, should be developmentally, influentially, in their leadership qualities, whatever-the-ly, maybe, possibly, mean that we’re all just full of shit.

That. Contradictorily, I also believe in the power of community and understanding and needing, wanting, and needing, needing, needing connection.

We need connection.

I suppose that it’s human nature to compare. We’d not be able to compare if we weren’t exposing ourselves to the masses. Should we? Yes. Should we? No.

When it comes to whatever it is that you’ve seen in public, let’s face it. You. Don’t. Know. You don’t know the past. You don’t know the future. You need to let go and let happy happen. You cannot control happy. It just is or is not.

But trust me that it happens much more often when you invite it to the party. Inviting happiness to the party means letting go of comparing our children to their peers.
So when it comes to shit that I’ve seen in public.

Once, in public, I saw my son try to interact with children who were younger than him, and fail. I cried harder than he did.

Once, in public, I heard a mother tell me that my son was too old for diapers. Trust me. I know. I wish he’d shit in the potty, too.

Another time, in public, I held his hand, with my head held high, when I simply wanted to fall on my knees, after a failed playdate. After greedy questions about him. After somebody asking me whether he’ll ever catch up. And then, telling me that he will.

At times, people overwhelm me with their kindness and their empathy. People can be amazingly generous, giving, understanding and supportive.

They can also be incredibly amusing, occasionally stupid, and, at times, downright gross. Some of the things I’ve seen people do in public are shocking.

Once, in public, at the grocery store, I saw a grown man eat his booger.

Years ago, in New Orleans, I saw two dumb drunk girls ask for vampires Lestat and Louis “Come to Them” while peeing. On the street. Because, you know, it’d be disrespectful to pee near the graves. Wait. Sorry, that was me and my friend Julie.

Lord knows that Tucker has embarrassed me in public.

He’s reached up, and grabbed my boob. In a mall. And said “WHONK!” Smart kid, I guess. At the time, I wanted to pretend that he was somebody else’s.

Once, I saw a guy reach down the front of his pants, adjust his balls, and then smell his finger. I guess ballstink is a valid enough concern but I prefer to remain blissfully unaware of it.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Today’s sentence is “Once, in public, I saw somebody…”

Your lovely hosts:
janine: Janine’s Confessions of a Mommyaholic

kate: Can I get another bottle of whine?
stephanie: Mommy, for Real
me: finding ninee
Next week’s sentence: The best part of my day is…


If there’s a parent out there who hasn’t wondered whether her kid is normal, please email me.

  • Janine Huldie - Kristi, yet again your ending to our sentence just amazes me. I know you keep trying to tell me your posts aren’t good at all, but seriously that couldn’t be further from the truth. And once again I leave feeling like I wish I could just reach out and hug you. Wonderful post and seriously pulled at my motherly heartstrings!October 10, 2013 – 10:05 pmReplyCancel

  • Rachel - I won’t be emailing you. I wish we didn’t have that impulse to compare. I often wonder where it comes from, because it doesn’t do anyone any good. I think we think it will tell us something, even though, like you said, we just never know. I’m sorry that people have been so cruel. It breaks my heart, Kristi.October 10, 2013 – 10:10 pmReplyCancel

  • Jean - It hurts when my children seem weird compared to everyone else. When I took my students on field trips and people stared because they looked so raggedy compared to their doted on children…it hurts. I wish Public wouldn’t be so painful. I wish that very much for your Tucker.October 10, 2013 – 10:19 pmReplyCancel

  • meeshie - You know, I think in pictures and thanks to some of your ‘in public’ things I will now have twitchy icky nightmares tonight. Just… ugh. I am never going to hang out where you seem to be finding the booger eating ball scratchers. Dear gods.October 10, 2013 – 10:28 pmReplyCancel

  • K - I’m sorry, Kristi. I’m sorry that you have to deal with insensitive people in public. I totally know what you mean when you say that sometimes you wish you didn’t have to go out in public and see Tucker’s differences…I get that, because I feel the same way sometimes…sometimes I wish I could stay in this little corner of the blogosphere where differences are celebrated and special needs are normal…Sometimes it hurts to be out in the “real world,” where people aren’t always empathetic and understanding, where there are stares and questions and whispers. I want to stay in Our Land! At the same time, I also understand what you mean about connection.

    There are so many layers to this post…something about your writing makes me want to laugh and cry at the same time…thank you for sharing your thoughts, Kristi. I always look forward to hearing your take on the world! And you’re right — Tucker, with all of his beautiful imperfections, is perfect just the way he is. xoOctober 10, 2013 – 10:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Rich Rumple - Let me just say this … “Tucker’s a lucky kid to have a mom like you.” The ballstink is almost as bad as an old school cafeteria line worker. First, she’d put her forearms under her boobs and raise them up … like they’d been weighing her down. Then, she’d reach inside her uniform and produce a Kleenex out of her bra. After blowing her nose, she’d wad the Kleenex back up and stuff it back inside her top. Without delay, she’d then reach down, grab the huge steel serving spoon, and go back to serving food. There were days you really didn’t want to eat there … like when she put sandwiches together. lol Good post!October 10, 2013 – 11:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Misty @ Meet the Cottons - Sadly we live in a world where compare/contrast are the things doctors and schools seem to do best. I think I must have gotten really good at blocking out people when we’re in public, or I’ve been really lucky, not to have anyone share their ignorant thoughts with me. The good thing, the thing I wish other people could understand, is that we love our kiddos just exactly as they are. And I believe we’re more fortunate than NT families because we can see the wonder and amazement of our kids rather than the ruler kids are measured by. I think that might be clear as mud, but it’s after midnight and Patty has her very first friend here for a sleepover. Said friend fell asleep at 7:30 and was wide awake at 11:30. I think Friday is going to be a very long day around our house!October 11, 2013 – 1:43 amReplyCancel

  • MyTwice BakedPotato - I loved yours and live yours 🙂
    I have had strangers give me “advice” and I have heard fellow teachers complain about the kid like mine. I so understand the work, the jealousy, the pain, the worry and THE LOVE 🙂October 11, 2013 – 2:10 amReplyCancel

  • Considerer - How very INCREDIBLY dare they!? As a member of the ‘public’ who has ‘met’ Tucker, albeit over videolink, my impression was simply of an interested, communicative, engaged boy with a playful spirit and a GORGEOUS smile. Your posts about him serve only to reinforce that impression.

    I try very hard not to notice, though, when I see appalling behaviour in public – the kind which should really be kept for oh-please-please-do-that-in-private. Way icky.October 11, 2013 – 2:21 amReplyCancel

  • Joy @ icansaymama - BALLSTINK!! Sorry, that completely cracked me up!! LOL!

    As for the rest of your post, very often public just sucks. And hurts. And is annoying and a painful reminder. Rarely is it graceful or consoling, but it happens now and then. Sorry for all you had to deal with in public, from one SN mom to another.

    Sending you HUGE hugs, dear friend!! xoxoOctober 11, 2013 – 4:42 amReplyCancel

  • Dana - As usual, your writing made me smile, cry, and laugh. How do you do that? The world would miss out if you raised Tucker in a cave, so I’m so glad you don’t. And this post proves what I’ve known all along: some people in this world are complete dumbasses (ball stink man), and some are awesome. Although we all have both in us, I suppose; it’s just a matter of balance.October 11, 2013 – 6:52 amReplyCancel

  • karen - OMG….I snorted so loud at the ball stink…OMG OMG OMG…I can’t breathe. That is just too funny.

    I agree some people can be wonderfully empathic and caring and others are just rude idiots.

    You are an amazing mom and if we were closer, I would love to have a playdate with Tucker and Anthony…October 11, 2013 – 7:55 amReplyCancel

  • Jessica Smock - This was just wonderful. Once again, you convey so many complex emotions — including deep and profound love — in a relatable, humorous way. Tucker sounds like a special boy, and he’s a lucky one too, to have a mom who’s as loving, funny, and thoughtful!October 11, 2013 – 9:39 amReplyCancel

  • Joelle Wisler - Well, that’s it. I’m just going to carry hand sanitizer with me everywhere because you know that ballstink guy was touching everything after his “adjustment.” Most of all, I wish people were nicer. That’s about it.October 11, 2013 – 10:02 amReplyCancel

  • Chris at Hye Thyme Cafe - OK, so if we’re “comparing” … I had a peeing in New Orleans post too. How random is that?!? Strangely, I kinda miss all the hidden messages written around the City to/from Lestat, Louis, etc. Your comment about the guy in the grocery store gave me a flashback to one morning walking to my office from the parking lot. A guy ahead of me, with no hesitation, stuck his finger over one nostril, then blew really hard to shoot out a stream of snot that made my morning coffee try to rise back up and escape. Sooooooo gross!October 11, 2013 – 10:08 amReplyCancel

  • clark - your Post are not only fun (and enjoyable) to read…the fricken things are totally ‘quotable’! damn! I’d love to be able to write like that… *however*…

    my favorite Post line, (I fear not unexpectedly) is,

    “…And said “WHONK!” Smart kid, I guess.”

    I am ‘elling outloud’ here at my office… but being a clark, there is no expectation that I will explain the reason for the laughter… and that’s kinda the other thing I got from your Post, i.e. the price of membership in the common reality that (most) of us live out our lives as members. Not to say that we don’t have our personal realities/worldviews, but the fact of the matter is that we are not immune to the bad as well as the good of the everyday…*public* world.October 11, 2013 – 10:21 amReplyCancel

  • Stephanie @ Mommy, for Real. - Well, I for one think this a great post- very honest, very insightful. And just as I started getting tears in my eyes, you made me laugh. So, I think that means- well done. And sorry I have been MIA from the blog world this week- I have read exactly zero posts (and written zero) until today. Forgive me. xoxoOctober 11, 2013 – 11:11 amReplyCancel

  • Tamara - As always, your spin on FTSF is gripping. Amazing. Like you! Gripping and amazing. Wait, is that a compliment? It is to me.
    I always love when I catch someone farting in public. Often we lock eyes and giggle together. Sometimes there is a decidedly lack of eye contact (on their end) and I have to run away to crack up until I cry.

    Did I mention I’m not always mature?October 11, 2013 – 11:14 amReplyCancel

  • Lisa @ The Golden Spoons - I am the worst for comparing myself to other people. I constantly think “She’s prettier. She’s Skinnier. She’s got it all together and I’m barely hanging on. Her blog is better. She’s so much funnier or more insightful.” I do it all the time without even realizing I do it. I try really hard, though, not to do it to other people. It is hard to overcome that natural instinct. (It is natural, isn’t it?? Or maybe I’m just weird.)

    And ball stink guy?? EEEEWWWWWW!!!!!October 11, 2013 – 11:22 amReplyCancel

  • Natalie - The Cat Lady Sings - Ew. In public? Yuck.
    And Public can be the worst. People can be cruel and thoughtless. Thank God they can also be kind and empathetic, or I don’t know how we’d make it out alive.October 11, 2013 – 1:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Beth Teliho - I’m supposed to be getting an oil change but had to read…one…more…post and now I’m compelled to comment! Beautiful post. You never fail to weave a perfect story with just enough heartfelt, humor, and thoughtfulness to make it perfect. I sooo love them all. You’re a treasure.

    Comparing….UGH. It’s the devil, yes? I’m terrible about it (when it comes to myself). Sorry you’ve had to put up with idiots. All kids should be as lucky as Tucker to have a mom like you. 🙂

    ballstink?? LOLOLOLOLOL!!!October 11, 2013 – 2:33 pmReplyCancel

  • Amy - Funny is Family - Everyones journey is different, and comparisons often make us feel smug or shitty. Awareness helps, so thank you for the reminder!October 11, 2013 – 3:48 pmReplyCancel

  • Emily - I love how this post literally took us all over the place — to playdates, malls, grocery stores — as well as to all the different places in your brain, showing us how your thoughts on this relate to Tucker and how they also don’t. I am NEVER bored reading your posts — ever! Just thought I should tell you that. And you’re sooo right about public and comparisons and connections — all those things can make having a child on the spectrum incredibly difficult and painful. I have also had both adults and children say some very cruel and idiotic things to or about my son, but it’s situations like that which can make you step back and also see the wonderful side — that our imperfect perfect children are paving their own way and showing us that we don’t need the approval of the “public” — we just need their empathy, which brings us full circle to Our Land, doesn’t it?October 11, 2013 – 4:52 pmReplyCancel

  • Ruchira Khanna - Kristi you put in the good the bad and the ugly in this single post…amazing!

    your kid is precious and that post was the best and all I wanna do is give you a virtual hug!October 11, 2013 – 5:53 pmReplyCancel

  • Debra Cole - Love this. Heartbreaking in a lot of ways, witty and beautiful in others. I remain in awe of you.October 11, 2013 – 6:07 pmReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - Oh man the boob honking…
    So been there.
    You are brilliant my friend. This is a perfect reminder about how beautifully imperfect we all are…and really, who gives a f*ck if we smell our fingers when adjusting our thongs…wait…no..I mean…forget it.
    I have never talked about it (blogged about it) online, but my son needs speech therapy. I felt like a giant failure at life when his kindergarten speech pathology test revealed that. It became a “How did you not know”…then I compared him to every child…every interaction he is involved in.
    I still do that. I shouldn’t. Because who really cares what the public thinks. My kid is awesome just like your boobie pinching kid.
    Totally a boy thing.
    Well done friend. Love.October 11, 2013 – 6:39 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah | LeftBrainBuddha - Lovely, Kristi. I love how you write about the tension between needing community, but also wanting to raise our kids away from the glare and stare of others.
    And I once had a student (a sophomore!) eat a booger in class. SO GROSS!October 11, 2013 – 6:49 pmReplyCancel

  • The Dose of Reality - I don’t do it so much with my daughter for some reason, but I have a horrible way of STILL comparing my 13 year old to other kids. Why? WHY?? He’s perfectly imperfect exactly as we all are. I guess you’re right that it’s human nature, but I feel like be so much happier and less anxious if I never did it.

    I’m sorry you’ve had people say some incredibly insensitive and idiotic things. People can be so stupid and self involved. I’m also glad that you have felt goodness of people who are caring and supportive. I hope you come across many more of those people, always. That’s what we all want and need. –LisaOctober 11, 2013 – 7:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Katia - What everyone above me said. Yes, you’re an incredible mama. Yes, you’re an original incredible writer. Just as I was formulating my comment on how philosophical and profound and heartfelt the discussion was, you hit me with the ball stink and the boob whonk. And that is precisely life. All of the above, everything you’ve described. I’d love to meet you some day.October 11, 2013 – 8:46 pmReplyCancel

  • Chris Carter - I could just read your posts all day and all night- cause that my friend is how much I LOVE YOU AND love LOVE how you write. My heart breaks for those moments you have, and yet at the same time celebrates the victory you have within your beautiful mother heart. I love how you captured so eloquently once again, the dichotomy and the connection between too vast poles in parenting- and in life. All so true!!!
    On my 30th birthday, I went for a run. In the MIDDLE OF THE DAY on my street, a man pulled his truck over and stood on the side walk ahead of me a few blocks… I knew it, I’m from Chicago- city girl instinct knew it.
    He pulled his pants down and starting getting off while watching me run right toward him, passing him, and on I went. Apparently, that shit is everywhere- not just Chicago. People are both fascinating and disgusting all at once.October 12, 2013 – 12:50 amReplyCancel

  • Out One Ear - Linda Atwell - I agree with Ruchira Khanna–you’ve captured the good, the bad, and the ugly. You handle everything with so much grace. And you’re so observant. 🙂 Maybe it’s a good thing I’m totally on a mission when I’m in the grocery store. It’s saved me from seeing disgusting men pick their noses or adjust their balls in public. (Well, I have seen the ball adjustment thing over their clothes and on the baseball field. Happy Friday, Kristi. 🙂October 12, 2013 – 12:58 amReplyCancel

  • MJM - You should be thankful that he is not like the other kids, that he is different, because honestly the kids (or more accurately the monsters) out there in the real world are scary. Of course this is not true for all, but a good percentage for sure.October 12, 2013 – 1:15 amReplyCancel

  • Jennifer Lizza - I love this. You are amazing end of story. You are funny yet also eloquent. Perfect post!October 12, 2013 – 3:39 amReplyCancel

  • Kerith Stull - Wow. So true. My second daughter has cerebral palsy. I knew without seeing her in public only because I had the chicken pox at six weeks pregnant and was diagnosed with CMV at 36 weeks. Talk about double whammy. When she wasn’t rolling over at four months old, I knew. But, then there’s that “other” realization you talk about here…seeing just how different your child is. Heartbreaking. Comparing is natural. So is judging, unfortunately. Where did you get the sentence prompt from? Would love to join! (Visiting from Love That Max LinkUp)October 12, 2013 – 10:54 amReplyCancel

  • Sarah - This is why I read your blog. Thanks!October 12, 2013 – 12:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - I definitely see stinky balls coming. Roller-coaster of emotions with this one girl!October 12, 2013 – 1:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - Now I’m laughing hard because of my missing word typo. DEFINITELY DID NOT SEE STINKY BALL COMING. Dangit!October 12, 2013 – 1:56 pmReplyCancel

  • Kenya G. Johnson - BALLS WITH AN S – I’m gonna stop typing nowOctober 12, 2013 – 1:57 pmReplyCancel

  • Julie Chenell DeNeen - EWWW and AWWW and WOW. How can your post go from hilarious to heartbreaking in one second? xoxOctober 12, 2013 – 2:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Kristi Campbell - All,
    Thank you so much for all of the amazing comments. I apologize for not having “nested” comments (they’re saying January 2014 so fingers crossed) so that I can “nest” an individual reply to each above.
    You guys are THE BEST. I always worry about posting things like this as I don’t want to come across as whiney but you people are always so supportive and awesome. Thanks for being so fabulous.

    I’m laughing out loud. With you, not at you though, m’Kay?

    Chris Carter – REALLY? you’re way braver than I am. I’d have turned around, run the other way and hyperventilated. Or something equally uncool.October 12, 2013 – 4:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Lanaya | Raising Reagan - Connection is so important! Perfection is something that none of us will ever be able to attain yet we strive to reach it all the time. What is that about?
    Something I have a hard time letting go of.
    Your son is amazing and has an amazing mother to boot … boob pinching and all!!

    (¸¤ Lanaya | xoxo
    Raising-Reagan.comOctober 12, 2013 – 10:22 pmReplyCancel

  • Sarah Almond - It’s still hard to go out in public with my son. I tend to forget. To me his behaviors are normal. Then he goes out amongst other children his age and it is oh so obvious that he is very different. Anything that requires social interactions with other children is absolutely exhausting. Someday I’ll write about it.October 12, 2013 – 11:45 pmReplyCancel

  • Sandra Sallin - Let’s just say I loved the whole piece. Just perfect. But “ball stink?” Hysterical. What a pleasure to read this. I laughed and cried with you. I was right there with you. Thanks.October 13, 2013 – 1:46 amReplyCancel

  • Kate Evans Hall - Ok, the last one totally cracked me up bc I wasn’t expecting it! Ahahaha! Man, your post is kinda similar to my post – at least in the whole comparing ourselves and people telling us what we should/should not be doing, etc. Gag, I hate that crap. But I’m sure I’m guilty of it too – ignorance. That’s what I chalk it up to. Sometimes people ask me the nosiest, self-centered questions about my kids. Annoying.October 13, 2013 – 3:42 amReplyCancel

  • Jen - Oh do I totally get this post. It is exactly like I feel/felt. I remember having this conversation with my closest mom friend. How could I know what was “typical” if I had no one to compare him with. Now I wish I could undue so much comparing, oh he’s not reading yet? Why is he so loud? Why is he wearing headphones? Really people. Keep it to yourself. AND gross, I did not need to know those other things!October 13, 2013 – 8:28 pmReplyCancel

  • Tatum - I never pick my nose in public…only in the car. In all seriousness – I love this post. So true. People same the most ridiculous shit all in the name of taking an interest.October 13, 2013 – 9:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Out one ear - Linda Atwell - No TTofT this week, Kristi?October 14, 2013 – 1:31 pmReplyCancel

  • Kerri - OMG it hurts. Public hurts so freaking much. Can I live in your cave? But only if you have WIFIOctober 15, 2013 – 11:32 amReplyCancel

  • A Morning Grouch - Beautiful. Sad and scary and true and HOORAY for the kind and the empathetic in this world, that’s really all we can do – continue to collect those people and surround ourselves with them. November 21, 2013 – 12:21 amReplyCancel

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