We are overwhelmed by everyone’s kindness regarding Sarah’s ‘Night to Shine’ event! What a dramatic difference than what we received when Sarah went shopping for her dress!
Back in January a flyer came home from Sarah’s school inviting her to ‘Night to Shine’. I read the flyer to the family and asked Sarah if she wanted to go to Prom. She looked at the flyer and then went to grab her coat. I guess that meant she was in! I had to tell her it wasn’t that night but it was coming soon.
Sarah needed a dress for this event. We have a Salvation Army store by our house that has prom dresses and I thought we would try there first. We might be pleasantly surprised! Kendall wanted to come with us and so the three of us ventured out around 7pm on a Saturday night to the Salvation Army store. A Gregory Girls’ Night Out!
I told Sarah what we were doing and she was so excited. In the parking lot Sarah made a dash for the store. Thankfully, Kendall caught her by her hand. As we walked in I did a quick scan of the store and saw that it wasn’t too busy.
“Good.” I thought. While Sarah is getting better in public and not crying as much, I still am very hesitant about taking her out. We never know if she will start to cry loudly.
We made our way to the prom dresses section and there were so many to choose from! There were short and long ones, sparkly sequins to smooth satin in all sizes and colors. We picked a few we thought might fit and Kendall wanted to help Sarah get changed in the dressing room. I stood outside the dressing room door and would return dresses that didn’t fit and went back to the racks looking for other options for her to try on.
We found the red velvet dress that Sarah did eventually choose for ‘Night to Shine’. Only $10.99! Gotta love the price! Yet, we were not quite sure if this was ‘THE’ one. Sarah still had several more dresses to try on. There was one that I thought might also be a winner. It had hot pink sequins that covered the entire bodice. It screamed Sarah! When Sarah went to try it on, it turned out to be a pant suit. Sarah thought this was hilarious.
“Funky! I look funky!” Sarah squealed.
Not sure where she heard that word before. I opened the door to see Sarah spreading her legs apart and she bent down to show that it was a pant suit.
Kendall and I laughed and I told her to be quiet. That did it. She began to yell,
Kendall put her hand over Sarah’s mouth, but again, that just fueled her more.
‘FUNKY! I LOOK FUNKY!’ she yelled louder.
I told Kendall to get her changed and told Sarah once more to be quiet.
Kendall turned to me and asked what shoes Sarah would wear to Prom. Good question! She doesn’t have any nice dress shoes. I decided to look at the shoe section that was right next to the changing rooms.
‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could find sparkly shoes for Sarah?’ I thought as I looked on the shelves.
“Funky!” was continued to be yelled with a hysterical laugh as Sarah couldn’t contain her excitement. The dressing rooms had no ceilings and her yell and giggle echoed throughout the store.
It continued to get louder and I went back once again to tell her to be quiet.
Then it happened.
“WILL YOU SHUT HER UP? MY WORD! SHE IS RUINING MY SHOPPING EXPERIENCE!”
I looked over to see a woman hissing at me in disgust. I just barely saw her head and it seemed to be that she was hiding behind the rack of clothes.
“I am so sorry! She has severe autism.” I apologized.
“WELL I DIDN’T KNOW! GOOD GRIEF! SHE IS SO LOUD!” Her tone was sarcastic and unkind.
I said it again apologetically, “I’m so sorry! She has severe autism.” My face became red as I felt horrible. I felt the stares of people shopping around me.
Then the woman went at me again in her accusing voice, “I SAID I DIDN’T KNOW! AND WHAT KIND OF MOTHER LEAVES HER CHILD UNATTENDED? SHAME ON YOU FOR LEAVING HER ALONE! HERE YOU ARE LOOKING AT SHOES WHEN YOU SHOULD BE TAKING CARE OF YOUR KID!”
Then I heard her speaking to whomever she was with about how terrible I am and how I can’t control my child.
I didn’t say a word back to the woman. It was pointless. I knocked on the door and told Kendall to please hurry. Tears flooded my eyes and I put my head down as I stood outside the dressing room door.
“Lord, I can’t even take her to the Salvation Army store.” Tears came down my face and I did my best to stay composed.
The door slowly opened and Kendall’s eyes met mine. My eyes were filled with tears and hers were white with anger!
“Where is she?” Kendall looked out the door to get a view of the store. She opened the door more and Sarah stood there head down and quiet.
“Mom, how could she say that?”
I turned around to see that the woman was now close enough to see that Kendall was in the room with Sarah and with that she walked away.
“Kendall, do you think this is the first time someone has yelled at me about Sarah? It’s not the first, nor will it be the last.”
Kendall’s hands were shaking.
“I am so MAD!!! This is a special day for Sarah and how could she say something like that? Where is she?!”
“Kendall, no, let’s just go. It won’t solve anything. Are you almost done? I just want to go home.” I just wanted this night to end. I could not leave the store fast enough.
“We need to try on two more dresses.”
“Please hurry. I want to go home.” I couldn’t stop the tears and the stares from the few people in the store were falling heavily on me.
We decided on the red velvet dress and Kendall insisted that Sarah carry it out.
“This is her day and she is carrying her dress!”
As we walked to the cashier, the stares followed us. Kendall held her head up high and confidently marched to the cashier. I walked quietly trying not to make eye contact.
I am proud of Kendall for being so protective of Sarah. I could not ask for a better sister for her! God has given me a girl with such spunk and I love how she is ready to defend the defenseless.
To be honest, I have struggled with this situation and poured my heart out to God about it. I asked the Lord if I should have said something, but I truly think confronting this woman would not have changed anything. There are times I have said something, but I could tell this woman’s heart was hard as stone and it would have been pointless. This woman had no clue what our lives are like and how important this day was to us. If she lived my life for one day, she would be laughing at Sarah saying ‘Funky’, too, and joining us in her joy. Instead, I find myself chuckling that Sarah single handedly ‘ruined her shopping experience’ at the local Salvation Army store on a Saturday night. Wow.
This morning in my quiet time, I read about King Hezekiah who was being threatened by the King of Assyria (2 Kings 19). This king was ruthless and was conquering kingdoms left and right and now found himself on King Hezekiah’s door. Judah was outnumbered by a massive war machine. The Assyrian king taunted Hezekiah and mocked him for trusting in God. Hezekiah did not reply back. Instead, he went to the temple and spread the letter that the king of Assyria sent before the Lord and he prayed. The prophet Isaiah came to Hezekiah and told him the Lord will fight the battle. And He did! An angel went out and wiped out 185,000 of the army. The army fled back home without Judah even lifting a sword.
What a great example of how God truly is the Defender of the defenseless! Now there are times in the Bible the Lord tells Israel to fight, but no matter what, He was with them. I know, too, He is with me no matter what battles I face.
No, this was not the first time I have had someone make comments to me about Sarah, telling me to make her be quiet or behave, and it certainly won’t be the last. (Trust me, if I could make her, I would.) There are times it is best to be quiet and there are times the Lord tells me to speak up. And when those times to speak up come….I know I will not be alone for not only is God with me, but also He gave me a feisty daughter who is ready to stand in Sarah’s defense!