Thursday, June 12, 2008

Doesn't She Know

I was in Borders, tickled pink at my purchase. I wasn't going to let some rude woman and her rude brood make any difference to my mood. I had the book in my bag and was pushing over to the line up for the till. I saw Joe sitting out in the mall people watching as I shopped. He looked relaxed, that pleased me. A young mother carrying a stack of books along with a girl of around 8 and a boy of around 14 each of whom had a book or two, sees me headed for the line and then takes off like a shot. She arrives just before me, squeaks by my wheelchair and are now at the head of the line up. How's that for a victory - quick abled bodied people beat out fat guy pushing his own chair. There must be a reality show in there somewhere.

But I don't care, I tracked down a book that I've been waiting to read. A book with a primary character with a disability - a book spoken of as literature by all reviewers. I'd watching for it to come off the 'too be released' list at Amazon and here I have it in my wheelchair bag. I become surrounded by nuclear family as a woman a little girl pull up behind me. There is something about the child's voice I recognize. Like an accent from a country I've visited an enjoyed. I listen harder, then glance to look. Sure enough we've a tyke with Down Syndrome. A chatty Cathy of a girl. Mom is smiling but in the way that mom's do to encourage without actually listening.

The woman in front loses patience with her daughter, "You need to shut up now, it's times like these that I can't believe I gave birth to you. There's a decision I'd like to take back sometimes." Shock trailed through the line up. Then the boy got a withering attack, "you were useless as a child and it looks like your going to be useless as a man.'

I looked at the woman's face, expecting to see hate there. I didn't. I saw something worse. Pleasure. She was taking pleasure in what she was saying. I looked back down the line. Everyone had the look that I was sure was on my face, "I want to say something but I'm afraid I'll make it worse, later, for the kids."

Then she started up again. The little girl, with Down Syndrome, behind me whispered to her mom in that whisper that only children can do -that whisper that can be heard on the next block.

"Mom, doesn't she know that people can hear her?"

Well she heard that and spun around looking for the speaker, who was hiding her face in fear behind her mother. She took a breath to speak to the little girls mom, who just quietly said, "Don't."

Standing there, waiting as time crawled like at the speed of a government acting on a promise, she was entirely alone. She knew what she looked like to all of us in the line up. She knew that her kids had been thrust away from her.

Realization - I hope so.

I would edit, because well, I would edit, what the little girl said, though ...

"Doesn't she know her kids can hear her?"

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Holy freakin' hell! That woman doesn't derserve to have children. Kudos to the little girl for speaking up and to the mother for even uttering that one word.

Anonymous said...

God bless the whispers of children and the honesty they hold. I hope those children have people in their lives who hold them as precious and help them see the place of importance they hold in the world...

liz said...

I'm hoping that someday that evil woman's 2 children will get a chance to be revenged upon her by being the most wonderful parents in the universe and cutting her off from their kids.

Rosemary said...

Reading about the mean-mouthed mom made me feel sick.

lina said...

amazing how a person can feel such hatred - I can't begin to contain my own hatred for her and her terrible words to those kids.
Thank God for the child who was courageous enought to speak out. Still shocked.....

rickismom said...

Wow, the mother of the little girl was smart and quick with that one word.
I don't wish that this woman's kids will disown her. I wish that she can change, as unlikely as that is. She probably had the same type of parent. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to outgrow the abuse they received.
I do, hope, that somehow this lady's kids do.

And while it is so easy to see the wrong in such a blatant verbal attack, I suspect that any of us who are parents (excluding any angels who post here), should use this as a wakeup call. Are we quilty of a 5% attack? 3%? Lets each try to be a bit more positive, and less critical today....

Karen said...

Painful, very painful, to see something like that said to a child.

Yesterday, I spent time with a parent whose deaf child was called retarded by a TEACHER. There's nothing wrong with this child's mind.

People like this shouldn't be allowed around kids...

Anonymous said...

now i remember why I am working in a call centre

FAB said...

This breaks my heart. I have had bad moments as a mother, if we're all honest, it happens to the best of us, but even in my worst moment I can not imagine speaking in that way to my kids. I appreciate rickismom's comments about this, and maybe this mother will change, maybe those little whispered words will echo in her head for some time to come. Then again, maybe it won't change anything, and instead her childen will grow to be extraordinary people despite her.

P.S. Dave, I hope you don't mind, I think later I'll be blogging about seeing you today,(If I can stay awake long enough).

FAB said...

This breaks my heart. I have had bad moments as a mother, if we're all honest, it happens to the best of us, but even in my worst moment I can not imagine speaking in that way to my kids. I appreciate rickismom's comments about this, and maybe this mother will change, maybe those little whispered words will echo in her head for some time to come. Then again, maybe it won't change anything, and instead her childen will grow to be extraordinary people despite her.

P.S. Dave, I hope you don't mind, I think later I'll be blogging about seeing you today,(If I can stay awake long enough).

Cheryl said...

Curious what the book was that you got

Veralidaine said...

Go little girl!

Faith in humanity: -1 for the nasty mother, +1 for the awesome little girl, and +1 for mother defending her.

The day comes out on a positive note... but I worry for the children of the abuser.

Dorian & Monte said...

Oh, what this will do to those children. The idea that the mother was enjoying herself is just apalling. I won't even let my 7 year old (with autism) tell me he's a 'bad' boy. I hate that word!!!!

Shan said...

That's just horrible.

What I'm thinking is, what happens when they're at home?

Ettina said...

"Yesterday, I spent time with a parent whose deaf child was called retarded by a TEACHER. There's nothing wrong with this child's mind."

If he was developmentally disabled, would that make it OK?

Tamara said...

How do you manage to run into these situations all the time? It's incredible.

I really hope that woman somehow realizes how awful she sounds - or if that's not possible, that those two children realize that everyone watching sympathized with them, and that it is not the way a parent should treat them.

And, Ettina, thanks for saying what I was thinking.

Lisa b said...

Another amazing tale Dave. I wonder how you run into these situations all the time and then I wonder if the rest of us just aren't looking.
There is such wisdom in the simple truths of children.
I hope if such an event unfolds in front of me I can have the same quiet dignity of the mother of the girl who spoke out. To address, but not escalate the situation.

This is the best line:
the speed of a government acting on a promise