Friday, October 31, 2014

Please stop introducing me to your disability friends

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Like a moth to a flame, disability friends find each other quickly.
Why?
  • A wheelchair is easy to spot 
  • A yelling child (versus a baby) is difficult not to hear
  • The medical lingo in a non medical setting is like a fog horn to my ears
  • We've likely already met (possibly a few times) in a medical setting, special ed room or a fundraiser of some sorts
These folks live my life in various mimicking ways.  They get me and understand me.  They are a lifeline sent by God! Not only because they don't freak out when bodily functions are brought up in everyday conversation, but  I also don't have "edit" my conversation to prevent scaring them away.  They too are breathing a sigh of relief that they can take off their filter and talk about how they really feel in graphic detail if necessary. I love my disability mom friends!

Why then do I need typical friends who...
  • don't really understand 
  • may say inconsiderate things (as if I don't)
  • May be more likely to be annoyed when I don't return a call or text in a timely manner... 
  • And may be freaked out at the measure of chaos that is my normal?
This is my second move with Abby.  Although she was only three when we moved to MN and it was a move "home" for me, we walked into a very similar situation.  People had no idea what to do with us.  Most people fear what they don't know and the typical response is to "pretend to not see us" or look away quickly... unless you're a child and then you stare, point and ask questions.  You may be surprised, but I prefer the latter :)  Abby is in a wheelchair.  She very well may be dancing by waving her hands in mid air... without any music to be heard.
that's weird
It's perfectly normal for a youngster to be confused.  It's okay to ask questions.  With each question your child is likely to stare less next time he encounters someone different and be less afraid.  Abby isn't offended :) 
***Now pulling your child away and scolding them is not the best way to convey that "nothing is WRONG" ***
...sorry about that random rabbit trail, but it needed to be said...
Many well intended folks instantly want to pair us with other disability families...
In case you've already forgotten our previous conversation
We've already met!
I have to bite my tongue when another well intended gal engages me in a conversation (as I get excited and think "possible friend?") and they pass me off to another disability mom. 
We all like people who are like us, but...
I need typical friends too, because...
  • They're likely to have more time to accommodate our crazy.
  • I like to be Allison (friend) instead of "Abby or Millie's mom" every now and then,
  • I like to do normal things and finding caregivers for both our special ed kids so we can go out takes an act of God, and finding good caregivers can be difficult so we may often even share the same person.
  • I need a place to wear my typical mom hat and brag on or talk about my other gals.
  • I can be good for them as much as they are good for me.
  • I give them a glance into a life they've likely never seen and it changes them and the future special needs families they encounter.
  • I can be fun when I'm not multitasking 40,000 things while trying to have a meaningful conversation :)
So...
If you would consider engaging our special needs family in a real relationship rather than introducing us to "the other special needs family"  It could really be mutually beneficial...
I promise :)
who wouldn't want to join this cuteness!

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