Autism / Special Needs,  Writing

Hey Kath in Tomball, TX – Enjoy Your 15 Minutes, Girl.

Dear Kathleen Smith from Tomball, Texas,

I watched your video. You know, the one where you suggest a mother beat her screaming child in a grocery store? The one where you wanted to attack a stranger’s kid with a wooden spoon? The one where your parental advice was to “kill it?” Yeah, that video. I watched it, but it didn’t make me angry or particularly upset. I didn’t make a rude meme of your face or leave a hateful comment on your Facebook wall. Honestly, Kath? My blood pressure hardly even rose. Because I know that your motivation isn’t child abuse, but rather this tiny sliver of internet celebrity you’ve found.

Bullying a child is now your legacy, the writing on your gravestone. “Kathleen of Tomball? I remember her. She used to video herself verbally assaulting children she met in grocery stores, and then post her rants to the interwebs for attention. A little off, if you ask me.”

You’ll fade away soon enough – hell, I’ll have forgotten you by Saturday. Because Kath, you are nothing if not forgettable.

Dear Mother to the Screaming Child in a Texas Grocery Store,

(Well, looks like you picked the wrong day to go grocery shopping. Says me, the master of stating the obvious.)

Hi. I’m Becca. I have a son with autism. We autism moms are really familiar with the word “tantrum.” We know about yelling and screaming and throwing, and doing it in really uncomfortable places at really awkward times. Like the grocery store. And we know that sometimes you can leave and sometimes you can’t. We do the best we can. If that means bribery, so be it. Opening a bag of chips in aisle 7? Whatever. And yeah, sometimes all we can do is look ahead, keep walking, and try not to fall apart.

I don’t know if your child is autistic. Maybe. Or maybe your kid is totally typical and was just having a bad day. Maybe your child is a portrait of perfection most of the time or maybe your kid is, actually, a real shithead. You might be mom of the year or you might be the laziest parent in the world. I don’t know. I don’t care. It’s not for me, or Kathleen Smith of I-Make-Crazy-Hate-Videos-While-Driving fame, to judge you.

There is a whole army of us out here who have learned, through the struggles of our own children, that everyone has a story and that everyone has it rough sometimes. If a member of this army had been in that grocery store with you, she would have reached out to you, smiled, said, “It’s okay, I’ve been there.” She would have lifted you up, not torn you down. She would have made you feel that we’re in this together – because we are. I really wish one of us had been there for you. We would have had your back.

We’re here now. There are a lot of us, and we think your child is glorious, yelling and screaming and all. We think your child is awesome and worthy and good and a hundred times stronger than Kathleen Smith of Tomball will ever be. So are you.

Keep your head up, sister. We have your back.


Rebecca Masterson is a writer, speaker, and an advocate for children. For more from Rebecca, like her page on Facebook or follow her on Instagram.