“Ryan! Come back here—Ryyyaan! Sit down!” The Mother pleaded desperately, while the rest of us sat quietly with our kids, waiting for music class to begin. What little control the mother had deteriorated quickly as the teacher handed out bells for the kids to use as instruments. Ryan literally ran circles around us during the entire class. I exchanged knowing looks with the moms around me. I watched my own boys participate appropriately in the class and thought smugly, “Heck, if I can get 2-year old twins to follow the directions, what is this lady’s problem?”
I became increasingly critical after the class, as I rehashed the experience over and over. “I understand that kids misbehave sometimes, that’s not what I have a problem with,” I explained to a girlfriend on the phone, “what I don’t understand is why his mother did nothing about it.”
The more I told the story, the more frustrated I became. Over dinner I told my husband angrily, “We’re paying a lot of money for this music class and I certainly didn’t pay to watch an undisciplined child run loose! I’m going to talk to that teacher next week and tell her she has to do something about Ryan, or we’re out of there.”
The next week Ryan did a bit better, but I was still fuming. While I round up the noisy boys and mentally rehearse my "Take care of this kid or we're out of here speech," I overheard Ryan’s Mom asking,“Are you sure it’s okay that we’re here?”
”It’s fine,” the teacher encouraged. “Music is so good for him. We can get an aide in next week to help you, if you’d like.”
“That would be great,” Ryan's Mom replied. Suddenly, I see her exhaustion and her son's autism.
My face reddens as I remember my rehearsed speech. Why hadn’t I even considered that this boy has special needs? Why am I so quick to judge this other Mom, when in reality I have no idea what she is dealing with?
Lord, teach me this lesson over and over until I get it right. Please help me to be slow to criticize and quick to encourage the people around me. Give me empathy and compassion in place of my hasty judgments. Root out the pride that lurks just under the surface and fill me with your grace. Amen.