Monday, April 13, 2009

What The Waiter Said

There is often such a clumbsiness in how waitstaff handle the extra chair. They see me coming to the table and rush about grabbing first this chair then that and bumbling along with it trying to find somewhere to put it. It's like someone in a wheelchair has never gone out to eat before in the history of man. But, nonetheless, we were seated at the table where we were going to chow down on Easter Sunday Brunch. Predictably the food was arrayed on tables set up with narrow passageways. We are still living in a time where accessibility is a surprise and 'sorry sir' the common experience.

So it came to be that Ruby and I were alone at the table for a wee while. Her relationship with Henry, my wheelchair, had increased her affection towards me astronomically. So there was no worry about missing Mom and Dad when Dave and Henry were on guard. The Maitress D' had given Ruby a little bag that contained children's stuff. Crayons, colouring book, tic tac toe set were amongst the tresures. Ruby quite diligently pulled everything out. Measured it up. She then decided to colour in the tic tac toe markers. She was gently hummmmmmmmming to herself as she made herself busy.

I noticed the waiter notice her. I thought he was noticing her pretty pink dress and matching pink gum boots (with a delightful pink heart motif). It was like he was drawn magnetically over to the table. I was getting a little concerned in his interest, he caught my eye and looked meaningfully down at the table, like something was going wrong. I could see nothing wrong, I smiled back up at him. Exasperation was all over his face. He now thought that the others had left a child and a dim cripple all alone at the table.

He rushed over and said to Ruby, "Those aren't for colouring, you are supposed to colour here". He gently openned the book and gave it to Ruby, then he was gone. It happened in an instant. Ruby looked at the colouring book, it held no interest to her. She looked down at the tic tac toe markers knowing now she was not to colour them. She put the crayon down.

She put the crayon down.

Why did the waiter care?

Was God neglectful by leaving the colouring of tic tac toe markers out of the list of commandments?

My resentment quickly turned to regret. I have done this a thousand times. A thousand times I have interjected myself and my sense of what is proper (not what is right, there is a huge difference) into the lives of those in my care. I have cared about things that didn't matter, I have intervened in triviality, I have made little room for adaption and difference.

Why does even a little bit of power corrupt even in very little places? Why do we suddenly feel that we have to have the world set up between our margins? Why can't we occasionally just shut up.

Shut up.

Maybe sometimes our silence, our tolerance, our knowing our own place can be the biggest gift we can give another.

Maybe sometimes we should stop and think before we speak, think about saying words that matter about things that don't matter.

Maybe we should just, occasionally, shut up.


Suelle said...

I constantly wish I would just shut up when interacting with my son. I get too nit-picky with him, not celebrating his sucesses, just focusing on some small thing that isn't just right. So I think I'll make that my Easter resolution--just to shut my moulth & smile!

One Sick Mother said...

Way to stifle creativity, waiter-boy!

I am reminded of the old Harry Chapin song, "Flowers are red",

...which IMO should be mandatory listening for anyone who so much as looks at a small child.

Anonymous said...

Dave, off point from this post, but did you know that Amazon has implemented a new "adult" policy that is making it harder for customers to locate some books on disability and sexuality, as well as some very NON-sexual books with GLBT themes (such as, "Heather has two Mommies")?

For more detail, see:

and also

You might want to see if your own books have been affected.

#amazonfail on #disability too. Please RT both and #glitchmyass #glbt #disabled

Julie said...

Other than things for which their are laws (natural or man-made), is there really any "right" way to do anything? I once argued with my son's pre-school teacher when she demanded that he color within the lines. Life is so much more interesting when we color outside of them!

Shan said...

I know I'm yelling here but...


miss kitten said...

i spent over an hour listening to my son yesterday. telling me about his week, how he was doing. i remembered how he would ask me thirty gazillion questions a day, and i know it was to make sure he was important to me, too, in amoungst all the "grownup" stuff i had to do.

may ruby always have people in her life who listen and allow her to pursue life as she long as she isnt coloring on the TABLE, who cares?

Myrrien said...

Note to self - learn to shut up and let my four year old off with stuff that really doesn't matter.

abby said...

Yes, the eternal quest of good parenting, in my book. And as I gear up for my daughter's dreaded "3-year eval", and seeing "their" attempt to define her in numbers once again, I step back to delight at her herness, and her ingenious way of figuring out how to navigate the world on her terms.

lisa said...

I'm with you Abby. I love to see how a child interacts with people and objects in new way that I would never dare to do. I love being "manipulated" by my students.


Anonymous said...

You know, I'd kinda like to give the waiter the benefit of the doubt. Dave assumes it was "exasperation" on his face, but your "exasperation" might be my "concern." Dave also seems to take personal affront here, assuming the waiter regarded him as "a dim cripple". Yikes, I sense an overload of hostility to somebody who may have meant well but communicated poorly. The waiter just might have thought that Ruby didn't realize the book was for coloring in - most restaurant "books" i.e. menus are not for coloring. I don't think Dave's use of a wheelchair necessarily entered into the thought process. I've had a waitress repeatedly tell my son to use a fork instead of a spoon for his salad, and he and I put that comment in the category "not worth sweating over."

Miss Magic said...

Sounds to me like Ruby needs the Anti-Coloring Books. My kids have adored them, Dave, but I must admit....I like them just as much.

As for the waiter, ugh! I'm surprised you were able to show such restraint in not telling him to buzz off, but you gave yourself the lovely Easter gift of I have yet to give myself ;-).