Where we live is not far from the beaches of Presque Isle. During the summer on Wednesdays there is a beach concert for the general public. It's a great event and we go as often as we can and meet up with some friends. Last week it turned rather tragic for us.
The gist of it is: My son was playing on the edge of the water, minding his own business, doing his thing. He started to pick up stones and drop them literally right in front of him to watch them splash. Suddenly some stranger - some older female - decided to grab his arm, start yanking on it and yell at him. After she let him go he came running to me very upset with marks on his arm. So I approached her and asked why she was grabbing my child. She started on me about how I'm a bad parent and needed to watch my child. I said that he wasn't doing anything wrong, there was no one around him, and asked again why did she grab him and how could she think that was ok? She started on me again about how I'm a bad parent and needed to watch my son. I told her I was in fact watching him and you can't just grab people's kids. Her friends then started on me about how I'm a bad parent and should watch my kid. They started yapping about him tossing stones. I said he wasn't throwing them at anyone and that he's Autistic, so what's her excuse for her behavior? Her only retort (broken record) was that I needed to watch my kid and I'm a bad parent. I told her very simply to do not ever touch him for any reason. She then said (and I thank her for this admission in front of hundreds of witnesses) "I never would have grabbed him had you been watching your kid!" I said very firmly, "never touch my child or any else's child." And walked away to find a lifeguard, leaving her in hysterics behind me.
Not surprisingly when the Park Rangers showed up she bolted. Nothing says "guilty" like.... Her friends stuck around though and several witnesses spoke up for me and confirmed what happened. This sad excuse for a human being ran cowering home. She obviously knew she did something she should never have done. They'll get her and she will forever be known as the woman who assaulted a 9 year old (disabled) child, unprovoked.
Had anyone done that to her child no doubt she would have been up in arms herself. I'm still amazed that she could even have seen anything with her back to the water, her own child and consequently mine as well. Apparently she just felt the need to be a monster. Well, her genius qualifies as simple assault, a misdemeanor in the first degree (he's under age 12). Not so brilliant on her part after all is it?
There is a report that is being written up by the Park Rangers. You simply cannot do what she did. You find a parent, you use big girl words, you say "honey I don't think you should be doing that." You NEVER grab a child and certainly not with violence.
There has been a lot of outrage over what happened. My friends, family, and others we know are all astounded that this could even happen. Even the lifeguards seemed to initially think she was trying to kidnap him. The rangers appeared to be baffled as well. Who would think it's acceptable or appropriate? And this has definitely affected him. My finance and I keep finding him under the bed in the middle of the night. He wakes up crying. He's been extremely clingy to the point where I can't leave the room without him panicking. Over the weekend we even saw some pretty serious self-injurious behavior. We've also seen a lot of baby-type behavior from curling up in my lap to using a baby voice to call for me and tell me he loves me. Some major regression in terms of his behavior has also happened as a result. It's like my 9 year old high functioning child has regressed to a 2 year old.
The bonus here is that since he is Autistic I was told he would not be made to testify. The ranger informed me that they would not take the risk to stress him out any more. It scares me that she has a child (children?) of her own. If she's willing to assault a perfect stranger's child, what does she do to her own child at home?
My son has been very appreciative of the support he has received so far. He was extremely confused for days because he knew he did nothing wrong and couldn't figure out why she would do that. The rangers and lifeguards also told him he did nothing wrong. He doesn't understand still what happened but has started to realize that he was not at fault and she was just an awful person.
I will post updates as they happen.