Kids Health

My Kids Have Invisible Disabilities & Other Parents Judge Me — Hard

It’s a PA Day and my 7-year old’s and I are on our way to the “Hissssstory of Snakes” program at the Toronto Public Library. Snakes are all they can talk about on our drive across town (“do you know they don’t have eyelids!?”). I’m happy to make the trek; my boys have some special needs that have made it difficult to be in the world, to participate in the extracurricular programs they so desperately crave. But the library is free and caters to a diverse city with diverse kids. Right?

We’re just in time, and my boys’ excitement bubbles over as they shout out answers to every question, one of them bouncing on his feet at the back, unable to sit “criss-cross applesauce” when there is someone at the front of the room talking about snakes(!). At first, others smile at their enthusiasm. Parents laugh as the Snake Guy asks, “What’s a snake’s favorite food?” and my son shouts “Dessert!”

But I see the moment the vibe shifts. I’m doing my best to keep the boys calm, but it’s no matter. I see the unmistakable look of an adult who thinks they’re going to teach my kids how to sit quietly and, by extension, teach me — his mother — how to parent properly, because my sons’ behaviors are clearly a result of my … what? Permissiveness? Laziness? Bad parenting?

My son tries to do as he’s told. He thrusts his hand in the air begging to be chosen, and when he’s not, when he’s ignored, despite being the only child with their hand raised, he calls out again.

Snake Guy stops the program. “He needs to leave,” he says, sharply. “Take him out.”

It hasn’t even been 10 minutes, and we haven’t even gotten to see a snake.

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