To all my friends, if you have a few moments, please click on the picture, go to some of these links, read and comment.
Peaches, you're all peaches!
Many thanks to Diary of a Goldfish , for putting this all together.
Here's my post (which I wrote last night):
Mom, the Disabilist?
Today we celebrated Little Guy's 17th birthday with a party. We invited his entire transitions skills class (for those with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities), their teachers and para-educators, past and present. It's become kind of a tradition over the last several years.
The high school gives us permission to combine lunch hours, and they provide the transportation and treat it as a field trip.
Everybody gets to have lunch in a nice---nice as in "sit down" and not "fast food"--restaurant, so nothing is rushed and there's plenty of time to socialize. We invited the grandparents (who live out of town) and assorted available relatives (it's in the middle of a weekday), and they get to meet all of Little Guy's friends and teachers.
Since we live in a small town--other than fast-food places--there are very few actual sit-down restaurants, and almost everybody knows each other. So as other diners trickled in for lunch, they recognized or were recognized by party-goers and stopped by to chat. It was a really festive event!
After it was over, and Hubby had settled the bill (see, he's good for something!), we thanked the manager for the wonderful service, and mentioned that the kids seemed to have a great time.
"I'm glad you enjoyed it!", she gushed. "I was surprised at how polite and well-behaved they were!"
Mentally, my mouth dropped open.
My mind said: These kids are not toddlers, for pete's sakes! They're young men and women! What in the hell are you referring to?
We thanked her again, and left the restaurant separately---Hubby back to the office, and me back to the house.
I was in a bit of a huff, naturally. I got my Attila up.
I stewed about it for a couple of hours.
Over the years, we've dealt with some pretty nasty and ignorant shit regarding my guys, both who have disabilities.
In our previous school district, which I mentioned a few posts ago, during kindergarten, Little Guy was stuck in their absolutely cruddy "inclusion" program. Their idea of inclusion was to let the other--um--"normal" kindergarteners line up to sit on his back and ride him down the slide face first into the sand, like he was an animal.
Yay! They were "including" him in their play!When he was in the first grade, in our new school district (we had moved), he got beat up on the bus by 3 fifth graders. They kept whacking him over the head with their backpacks while calling him names. One of them actually had to stand up and cross the aisle to hit him.
The driver did nothing. Claimed he saw and heard nothing.
Little Guy was sitting in the front seat. In the FRONT SEAT.
When this was pointed out to him, the driver finally said, "I just don't want to be responsible for disabled kids on my bus".
The school district required him (and the 3 students, who were suspended) to take sensitivity classes. Hubby and I debated whether or not to keep Little Guy on the regular bus---he was physically capable of riding it--to prove a moral point---or to request he ride in the special-needs bus. At the time, we decided that his safety was the most important issue and requested the disability bus.
A year or so later, we were at a Thanksgiving gathering, and were recounting the incident to extended family members. An older guest---the mother-in-law of someone (she'd had a bit too much to drink), sat down next to Little Guy and caught the tail-end of the conversation (where we said we'd requested the disability bus).
"You did a good thing", she proclaimed. "In my day, they kept those kids where they belonged---in their own institutions! I don't see anything good with letting *them* mix with *normal* children!"
I pointed out that we were talking about my son, who was sitting right next to her.
She looked him up and down. "You're lucky," she pronounced. "At least he looks normal. He could have been born with fins or something."
If Hubby wasn't holding me down, I'd have reached over the table and snatched her change-of-life-sunset-harvest-orange-colored medusa harpy wig off her pointy little head.
Little Guy's had kids take his clothes out of his gym locker while he was in class and throw them in the trash. Once somebody actually took a huge shit in his backpack. That takes some malice and effort.
He's been stalked by a couple of kids who thought they were funny (they didn't think it was so funny when they were hauled out of the classroom by the police). Their parents were indignant---not because of their own children's behavior, but because they thought that when they paid for a "private phone number" it meant it couldn't be traced. By the phone company. Dumbasses. *59 is our friend.
Most recently, a year or so ago, I took the kid to the pharmacy on the way home from the doctor's office, because I couldn't leave him in the car alone, and sat him near the back where the chairs were while we were waiting for his prescription, and went to hunt out some Advil.
When I headed back, I heard voices.
"Are you a stupid fucktard? You're a stupid fucktard, aren't you?"
Little Guy said, Please don't call me that. My name is xxxxxx.
I rounded the corner, and there were 3 punks standing in front of him.
Their parents are still searching for the bodies. Remember, I have a big freaking freezer.
But I do have to add that reading blogs that use the term "fucktard" really offends me.
Today, a couple of hours after the party, I couldn't stand it any more. I called my husband at the office.
I can't believe what that manager said! I'm so offended!
"What are you talking about?"
I reminded him. He didn't see it my way at all.
"Maybe the manager has had to deal with parties of teens up here. You know how it's been".
He pointed out some of the ugly things that have happened in our small town in the last few years. Parents of teens renting a room at the local hotel so their kids and friends could use the pool (and completely trashing the room in the meantime), kids running amok in the small movie theater, kids skipping out on restaurant bills, attacking each other, being verbally abusive to all and sundry, etc.
Once at a high school football game, Hubby was talking to an acquaintance and her kid ran up. Can I go to xxx's house? Parent said no.
"Why are you being such a bitch? You're just a f*cking c*nt!" The parent was absolutely mortified.
And you know, I think Hubby's right.
I spent my afternoon being reactionary and pissy about an intended positive comment on our lively party, looking for an insult where there was none.
I have a litany of big-ass beefs, which I've recounted above.
But they've spanned a 12-year period. Compressed in a small post, they look absolutely horrifying.
On the whole, how is it different from what other teens experience in their everyday lives?
They get teased for being too fat, too skinny, too rich, too poor, too unfashionable, too shallow, too ugly, too fake, too spotty, too smart, too stupid, etc. They worry every day about fitting in with their peers. And a lot of them are foul-mouthed, and foul-behaved.
Maybe it was a refreshing change for the restaurant to have a group of teens who were extraordinarily polite and considerate!
For the most part, with a few exceptions, our community has been completely open-hearted and accepting of my guys, if they bother to notice their differences at all. The kids that Little Guy has grown up with have been incredibly protective of him. When those boys were identified and hauled off for stalking him, they were completely ostracised by the other students.
I guess I'm the one who has been keeping a scorecard and keeping track of the bad things.
Of course, there are plenty of incidences that I never heard of that the guys have dealt with on their own, and while trying to think of a post to write about disabilism today, it stood up and slapped me upside the head.
They're young men now. If I've taught them anything, I've taught them how to advocate for themselves.
As a parent, how do I train myself to stop reacting to real or imagined ignorant slights and insults and bugaboos in every situation?
Because if I don't, I think in my own way, I'm promoting their disablism.
How do I learn when to let it go?