Have you ever waited for the Disneyland bus with your child sprawled flat on his back on the pavement? Perhaps you have. It’s a warm-up torture.
Here’s a better one: Have you ever felt dread and humiliation when your autistic child approaches a stranger and says, “Excuse me, sir,” for no apparent reason?
Make no mistake, there is no scarier phrase in the English language than, “Excuse me, sir.” It means the shame train is a coming around the bend in seconds.
Imagine yourself in the lobby of a restaurant. You watch a child emerge from a crowd of people who look like a family, and he approaches you with purpose. You glance past his odd affect and notice his parents looking on with apprehension. What are they so nervous about, you might think.
He looks up, then down, then to the side. He shakes his hand a few times while a sneer forms on his lips. You start to wonder if he’s going to speak after all, but then he opens his mouth.
“Excuse me, sir,” he says, his eyes glancing at yours momentarily. “Could you, uh… Could you tell us what state we are in?”
As if the Hoffmann’s are some wandering pack of rubes clueless to where we’ve gotten ourselves.
His eyes lock in on yours, his head bobbing up and down as he waits for your answer. You look over his shoulder and see his mother gritting her teeth, his father staring out the window at nothing.
Now imagine you’re the least-friendly-looking guy at the Wright Bros museum in Kitty Hawk, NC. Some child saddles up next to you and says, “Excuse me, sir. You look like a man who knows things. Who do you think invented the airplane?”
There is no irony in his voice like it’s a joke or he’s quizzing you. He’s waiting for your answer. Try to be nice.
The cherry on top is the unmitigated jubilee he displays when you give him the obvious answer. “Oh!! That makes sense! Thanks!”
His parents must not tell him anything. They must not know anything. I’m surprised they figured out how to make children.
You point in a specific direction and clearly state, “The sign says its right over there, dude.”
Parker walks across the room and addresses a non-employee who’s minding his own business.
“Excuse me, sir. Can you tell me where the bathroom is?” (My parents can’t read).
Parker has been known to stand by the bathroom sinks and ask people questions as they wash their hands.
“Excuse me, sir. Why do you think they invented toilet paper?”
Some people are very blunt.
A few other favorite questions:
“Excuse me, sir. Can I borrow your phone for a few minutes?”
“Excuse me, sir,” he asks a woman.
“Excuse me, sir. Are you a robber? I don’t mean that to be offensive. You just have that robber look.”
This has happened hundreds of times. It happens every dang time we go anywhere!
It’s like watching the cringiest Michael Scott scene from The Office, only it is real!
Monica has the fortitude to stand by and explain that Parker has autism if the situation gets too weird. Ryan just keeps on walking like he doesn’t know the kid.
*If you would like to read more about dying in public at the hands of children, check out Traveling with Children is Hard (click for full article).
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Don’t believe your eyes.
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