My New Title: Plumber

In our family I have many many roles. I am not just a wife; I am a nurturer, doctor, nurse, teacher, cab driver, cook, house keeper, homework helper, clothing washer, cheerleader, coach and disciplinarian to my 2 young children. A new role just added to my list of titles -a plumber.

My 5 year old Austria was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and has many sensory issues. At one point, she was obsessed of playing with lotion, shampoo and any liquid type of make-up. She will squeeze a tube of toothpaste until the contents are gone or mixed with other stuff.

One day while she was taking a bath, she got hold of my expensive shampoo and poured the whole contents in the bath tub. Blame it to me. I forgot to place it back at the shampoo rack dispenser after I showered.

Countless times we have said “No!” and “We don’t do that!” Thank God through the help of her therapist, she was able to gradually eliminate that behavior. Oh well, it was a very short relief.

Once she was potty trained and became independent going to the toilet, our new nightmare began. Austria became fixated of getting rolls of tissue to wipe her private part after using the toilet. She dumps the tissue paper inside the toilet bowl that causes it to clog.

We used to call a plumber a lot and oh boy, it was draining our wallet! So we researched how to unclog a toilet bowl. We experimented with dish soap and hot water method, plunger method, wire coat method, plumbing snake method, vacuum method, enzymes method and baking soda and vinegar method. We became very good at it!. And if these methods don’t do its job, we just call the plumber again!

We did our best in monitoring her when she goes potty. We make sure that she uses just enough tissue paper. I have tons of chores at home and I really don’t get to watch her most of the time. Although we trained her to ‘ask mommy’, she still finds her way to go without letting me know.

There were several incidents she clogged the bowl and the water overflowed! Thank God it was just pee!!!! I had to dry the floor and sanitized it.

The clogging of the toilet bowl stopped for a while and I kinda knew she’ll move to another fixation of some sort.  As expected, this time she started playing with the tissue paper on the sink bowl! One afternoon as i was walking through the hallway, I wondered why the carpet is soaking wet. I opened the bathroom and to my horror, the whole bathroom was under water!!! Austria clogged the sink again! So I have to go through the whole ordeal of cleaning up and vacuuming the whole area. Most of the time, Moses is not around when it happens so I do the unclogging.

I used to easily get mad, irritated, and react when those events happen. We are getting tired and frustrated. This is not acceptable! We are doing an intensive unpleasant behavior intervention with the help of her therapist and we are seeing some progress.

Just to make sure that she does not do it again, we recently placed a hook to lock the door so she does not really have a choice but to ask mommy when she feels like going. It can be challenging at times but taking care of a special needs child is a blessing and a privilege at the same time.

To the woman and child who sat at Table 9

motherdaughter

To the woman and child who sat at Table 9,

I did not introduce myself to you. My name is Tony Posnanski. I have been a restaurant manager for 15 years now. My day consists of making sure my restaurant runs well. That could mean washing dishes, cooking and sometimes even serving tables. I have also dealt with every guest complaint you can imagine.

A few weeks back you came into my restaurant. I was very busy that night. I was running around helping the kitchen cook food. I was asked to talk to a table close to yours. I did and they said your child was being very loud. I heard some yelling while I was talking to that table. I heard a very loud beep from a young girl.

I started to walk to your table. You knew what I was going to ask. You saw the table I just spoke to pointing at you. I got to your table and you looked at me. You wanted the first word. You said…

“Do you know what it is like to have a child with autism?”

You were not rude when you asked the question. In fact, you were quite sincere. Your daughter could not have been more than 5 years old. She was beautiful and looked scared that I was at the table. She looked like she thought she was in trouble.

In 15 years I do not have a lot of memorable moments as a restaurant manager. I remember some guests who were mad that their burgers were not the way they wanted them. I remember a woman who called corporate on me because she said I gave her a regular Coke instead of a Diet Coke. I remember having to cut people off from drinking alcohol and I remember having to tell tables to have their child be quieter.

However, I do remember everything about the day my son was born. How I cried when I heard him cry. How I stood there and told him I would do anything for him and be the best father possible. I remember the day I married my wife. How I cried and promised to be the best husband possible. I remember the day my daughter was born. I did not cry that day. I was just so relieved because I lost a child two years earlier.

I know what I was supposed to say when I went to your table. I was supposed to politely tell you to please not have your daughter yell. I was supposed to offer to move you to another area. I was supposed to offend you by not offending you…

I did not do any of that.

Instead I just told you I hoped your meal was awesome. I high-fived your daughter and then I told you that your meal was on us tonight. It was only $16. It meant more to me than that. I do not think the other guests I spoke to were happy about it. At that moment it did not matter to me.

I do not know how you reacted. I had to leave to go cook because the kitchen was not doing very well that night. When the server asked me why I bought the food I just said you did not enjoy your steak. I did not tell anyone what you said to me. I was thankful you did say it to me, though.

You asked me a question that I did not answer. The truth is I do not know what it is like to have a child with autism. I know what it is like to be a father. I know what it is like to be a husband. I know what it is like to not tell your wife how much you love her enough. I know what it is like to want to spend more time with your children.

You asked me the question right away. You have been through this before in other restaurants. I did not want to be like other managers for one moment. I did not want to tell you what you always heard.

Honestly, I wrote this to you and your beautiful daughter because I wanted to thank you both.

You have given me a great restaurant memory. One that I needed for the last 15 years.

You also taught me a valuable lesson…

Sometimes doing the right thing does not make everyone happy — just the people who need it the most.

Sincerely,

Tony Posnanski

This post originally appeared on The Anti-Jared.

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