It wasn't long ago that myself and my extended family were out for dinner, and my beautiful niece, who is Autistic and has other special needs, was making quite a kafuffle.
You see, to the average bystander, she looks like an undisciplined child. She yells. She throws things. She cries. My sister-in-law (her mom) has the patience of a saint and is super-mom. We were trying to enjoy our dinner, avoiding the stares of others as my beautiful neice carried on.
Moments later, this old lady came up to our table and yelled at us to "keep our child quiet" or something to that degree.
Needless to say, I was furious. Normally I mind my own business...I am very socially aware. However, for some reason, this really struck a chord in me this time. How dare she?? She doesn't know us! Does she think that my niece is just a bratty kid that is undisciplined, or moreover, that her parents choose to ignore her behaviour and carry on like it's no big deal?
The answer is NO on all accounts. This woman was totally off side. She had no idea how difficult it is for my sister and brother in law to take my niece out to a restaurant, let alone any public place. Some people are very judgemental and for the most part, rude.
I jumped up from my seat to confront this lady. I was steaming angry. But my hubby gently grabbed my arm and stopped me. He told me that perhaps, just like my niece, this lady was suffering from a mental illness or special need as well. Maybe that was why she approached us in anger. Maybe she doesn't have the strong social filter that I have. He calmed me. He consoled me. And our dinner continued, in a very nice fashion, as we promptly ignored the old rude lady.
He reminded me that you never know what is happening in someone's head, or why they behave the way that they do. It also reminded me of a customer that I used to have at my workplace who would come in and scream, yell, and fuss at us from all angles. She would swear at us. She would call to us from across the room, and if we didn't answer right away, she would swear at us again. We hated this lady!! Her rudeness, her uncouth behaviour, was just that straw that was about to break the retail camels' back on many an occasion.....
But then I found out that she had a brain tumour and that was why she yelled and carried on the way she did.
The moral of this story, and my mantra for every day?
Be kinder than necessary, for everyone is going through something.