From the minute we entered the restaurant with my 6-year-old son, I knew we were in for a tough time. The room was packed and noisy. It wasn’t kid-friendly, and my son has ADHD.
We sat down at a table, and within minutes, he was fidgeting in his seat. He grabbed the salt and pepper shakers and started playing with them, pretending they were race cars. I kept taking them away, explaining quietly but firmly that they weren’t toys and he needed to leave them alone.
But the second I turned away to look at the menu, I heard a sharp voice from another table. It was another mom, scolding my son for “driving” the pepper shaker into her daughter’s arm. I instantly felt ashamed, and under attack. I tensed up, turned back to my son, and barked, “What are you doing? I told you to put those away!”
As the mom and a few other patrons glared at me, my shame was joined by a familiar feeling of guilt and fear. I’d had this experience before, and I would go on to have it many times again. And every time it happened, it hurt.
Eventually, I came to realize something that made it a little easier to handle: Most people who judge do it because they just don’t know.