Saturday, May 01, 2010

Baby Tio - Blogging Against Disablism and Disphobia Day

I arrived home a couple nights ago to an email from a regular reader of Rolling Around in my Head. I was being asked a favour. I felt humble in the face of the request. My reader has just become the mother of an infant child with a disability. She wanted me to write a letter to the baby. A welcome to the world as it is. I have thought, solidly for two days, about this request and have decided to take it on. I ask all readers, if I've missed the mark or if you want to give a message for the family or to Tio himself, please do so in the Comments Section.

Dear Tio,

I am unknown to you, Tio. I will never hold you. Never feed you. Never bring you presents on the holiday. But still, I am a member of your 'other' family. As you get older you will become aware that your disability brings you inclusion into the 'family' of disability. This may seem odd to you at first, but as you grow, it will become an emotional support for you when you need it. You see Tio you have Grandmothers and Grandfathers with disabilities who have fought with all their might so that you might have this world that you live in. A world with curb cuts, a world with access to education, a world with the right to breathe free air.

Every disabled person who has ever marched in protest of discrimination. Every disabled person who wrote letters of complaint to governments. Every disabled person who stood up to a bully in a playground. They did it, partially, for you. They knew that you were coming. They knew that one day there would be a disabled child borne into this world and they wanted this world to be physically and socially ready for you. They didn't want you to have the barriers that they had.

And your Grandmom's and your Grandpa's fought amazing battles. You won't find the history of your family, your people, easy to find. But let me tell you our history is a vibrant one. It is the history of the claiming of the community. There was a time when we walked, or rolled, or otherwise made our way through the land of the long corridor and into neighbourhoods. There was a time when we lived with shame as our last name and apology as our first. There was a time, Tio, that no one could imagine what you can now fully expect.

It sounds as if I'm saying that you were borne at the right time. And I am. But you were also borne at the wrong time. There are increasing questions about our rights as a people to exist, about the value we bring to society, about the very breath we breathe. You will run into prejudice in the oddest places. Teachers who do not wish to teach you. Doctors who do not wish to doctor you. Neighbours who do not wish to neighbour you. You will be 'surprised' by intolerance over and over again.

There will be times that you may be tempted to wish that you were borne otherwise. That you were made of the same mould as other people, typical people. Be careful of this wish, Tio, it can only lead to envy and bitterness. In these times seek out the resources of your own heart, your own spirit. You are way stronger than you think you are. If you let it your resourcefulness will surprise you. Dig even deeper and find the place where your laughter lives - humour in the face of adversity and prejudice will keep you sane.

Your Grandpa's and Grandma's, your aunts and your uncles and even your cousins have worked hard for you to have the world you have. They have fought battles that you will not have to fight. But, part of the honour and obligation of being having disability kinship is that you have a responsibility to keep on the fight. Face down bigotry. Break down barriers. A cut curb gets you onto the sidewalk, but that's not far enough. There are still places that deny you access, employment, opportunity. Use the liberty already won as the leverage for the liberty yet to be gained. Remember, in a few years there will be a baby named Amanda, she needs you to ready the world for her.

So Tio, I will never hold you with my arms, but I hold you now in my heart. I thank your mother for the privilege and the opportunity to speak to you. I am deeply touched by her trust in me and hope it hasn't been misplaced. You know Tio, your mom's letter came just a couple days before the disability family confronts bigotry and bias on Blogging Against Disablism and Disphobia day. Right now all over the blog people are writing in support of a world without prejudice. A world that embraces difference and disability. This is the world we all want for you Tio.

Laugh lots while you grow. Be playful throughout your entire life. Cast love into dark hearts. Have faith in yourself. And when you need us, come home to family.


Brenda said...

Dave, it's beautiful. I wouldn't change a single word.

Tio, welcome to the family little one. May the world treat you kindly, and may you grow up to be exactly who you want to be.

Mama, congratulations on the birth of your wee miracle. You have exactly what you need to bring Tio in and through this world. You'll be great together. God bless!

theknapper said...

Welcome Tio and lots of love to your mama and thanks Dave for sharing these words.

karen said...

Dave, I'm emailing this to a couple of families that I love who have kids with disabilities!

I want to add, as someone born into an "able" body:


Many of us who are born to fully "abled" bodies join in welcoming you as an equal and valuable part of our community. When a poorly behaved individual pushes you down, look to and for us also for advocacy, acceptance and appreciation. Know too that we love and accept you exactly as you are today, a necessary, and indeed essential individual. You bring your own experiences and strengths to our society, our world.

Without you, we are incomplete.

karen tsang

d said...

This moved me to tears, Dave.

I am not ashamed to say that you brought me to tears of sadness as well as tears of laughter yesterday, and now, two and a half hours before I'm heading to Carleton place to see you again, you have moved me to tears again.


CAM said...

Thank you for that letter, Dave. As a mother of a disabled child, I am so glad that there is this family to support my child in ways that I am not able to.

Thank you again, and welcome baby Tio, what a gift you are to both your families, and what a wonderful mother you have!

Natalie said...


Kristin said...

Dave, I can't find anything to change. It is an amazingly beautiful letter.

imfunnytoo said...

Dave, words fail me. What a powerful loving piece.

And to Tio:

Welcome youngster. May you find more acceptance than fear, more love than indifference, and more fun and joy than frustration and sorrow. And Tio's Mom...hugs to you also for asking Dave to write the letter.

Never That Easy said...

What an astonishing and beautiful letter. It's just wonderful.

Welcome to the world, Baby Tio! Congratulations, Baby Tio's mama & families!

Wheelchair Dancer said...

Tio, welcome.

WCD said...

This is absolutely beautiful, Dave. I'm putting a link up at my blog, Same Difference.

MC Mobility said...

Nothing like having goosebumps and tears before the first cup of coffee. Absolutely beautiful, Dave. You're getting a link from our blog this morning.

Kasie said...


Laurel said...

Dear Tio,

I'm "abled" but have two young children. A baby, a new life, is a beautiful thing regardless of what kind of "abled" s/he is. You are your own new, wonderful person and we're so glad you're here. You are worth just as much as anyone else in this world--please always remember that. Always hold your head high and always remain confident in your own value.

Love, kisses, and snuggles to you. And lots of love to your Mama too--in her writing to Dave we can easily see how loving and thoughtful she is.

Louna said...

This letter is beautiful and has moved me to tears, Dave. I'm not a child anymore, but I'm learning to deal with a disability and this letter also spoke to me. Thank you.

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