Usually the bill is the worst part of grocery shopping, but one Michigan mom received something far more shocking while shopping with her son, Granderson, recently. Britney Miller was just trying to get through the mundane task of buying food with her 6-year-old when a stranger left an anonymous note on her grocery cart telling her to, “Buy that kid a muzzle.”
Kids are notorious for being less-than-perfectly behaved in stores, so the fact that note-writer thought they were entitled to judge a stranger for their parenting skills is obnoxious based on that fact alone. But had the note-writer taken a moment to speak to Miller and her son instead of leaving a note like the world’s most pathetic vigilante, they would have learned something. Because Granderson has autism. So while all kids make noise in stores, his whoops weren’t just the mindless noise of child acting their age, they were related to a pretty cool special skill-set that’s uniquely his.
Like some with the disorder, he is an expert on one thing, and his thing happens to be fire alarms. He makes them and collects old ones. His room is covered in drawings and paper-mâché renditions of them. He can tell you the pros and cons of the various models, and he plans to be a fire alarm this Halloween. He likes to imitate the sounds of the alarms for comfort, which is exactly what he was doing in the grocery store.
Many moms might feel full-blown mama bear rage at receiving such a note, but Miller is the epitome of grace when it comes to her son. She feels that many parents in the autism community are happy to spread awareness about the condition to people who are unfamiliar with it whenever possible and counts herself among them. She isn’t angry at the coward who left her the note. Rather, she wishes they had stopped to talk to her and given her the opportunity to educate them about her son and to show them how smart and special he truly is. She’s speaking out about the incident in hopes that talking about it will encourage others to work to educate themselves and ask questions instead of passing judgment on people whose lives they know nothing about.
Imagine how she must have felt reading that note? Now imagine how she would have felt had the person stopped to talk to her for a minute instead of writing that note and running away. They could have learned about her son and his love of fire alarms. Rather than feeling embarrassed and upset knowing she would never get the chance to explain herself or her son to the writer, instead Miller is spreading awareness and hopefully a little bit of good will into the world. A kind act is so much more powerful than a cruel one.
At only 6, it’s likely that young Granderson didn’t read the note and is fortunately none the wiser to the incident and how cruel people can be. But while this nasty note didn’t achieve its goal of getting a young child a muzzle (ew) perhaps it served a higher purpose. It can serve as a reminder to us all to remember that we don’t know other people’s circumstances and stories based merely on what we see.
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