Saturday, September 18, 2010

What's In The Bag

We were in a grocery store in the States and suddenly noticed that the woman bagging our groceries had Down Syndrome. Equally we noticed that the mother behind us had a daughter of maybe 6 with Down Syndrome with her. The little girls eyes latched on to the grocery bagger with intensity. The mother, seeing an opportunity, said, 'See, it's nice that she has a job and that she goes to work.' I was impressed. Parenting that had a child notice, parenting the commented on the simple truth of work, of worth and of inclusion. God knows what message that kid will get from the 'hopeless harpies' that fill our society with lies and untruths about the lives of people with disabilities.

When we were through, we had a lot of stuff, I pushed myself around and out of the way and waited for Joe to drop off some stuff and come back and help me with the stuff in my arms. As the mom and daughter went through, Mom chatted with the bag girl who was friendly and very polite. She commented on how beautiful the little girl was and that 'she's going to be a heart breaker'. Mom asked, 'Have you broken hearts yourself.' Pause. 'Well, Timmies.'

The little girl worked up and asked a question, 'Do you like your job?' The bagger thought for a minute, taking a little girls question seriously. 'No, not really, but the people are nice,' she said. Completely honest.

If I had a statuette tucked away in my wheelchair bag for 'best on the spot parenting' I'd have whipped it out. The little girl might hear the myths of a society that sees no value in those with disabilities but she will know the truth - people with disabilities work, love and carp about their jobs. Just like, pretty much, everyone else.


Lianna said...

I've loaded bags myself throughout my retail "life" and I wish for something "more" for my son.

In the past few years, as he has started school, I realized how I have missed opportunities for more fulfilling work, and yet my son may never be GIVEN the same opportunities to choose from.

I know this is not the message in your post this morning, but this topic is one that tears my heart apart. Our wish is for Gabriel to have choice in what he does in this life -- that he have a sense of fulfillment in how he earns a living.

Last year, his EA remarked on how she knew two adults with Down syndrome who have jobs when I expressed how important our family feels about Gabe's ability for independence. She knew of one person who worked at McDonald's and the other worked as a grocery bagger.

Little did she know that both Terry, my husband, and I dream of Gabriel working for the government (Gabe loves computers and he's only five years old), teaching (he loves to show off his ideas to us and these ideas WORK), or choosing a career that raises him above general society's expectations.

If he can choose his own path, and find his own sense of fulfillment, then I believe that when he complains about his job, it will truly be coming from him. Does this make sense?

Anyway, this post is so great and I appreciate the honesty of it. :)

Sheva said...

I read your blog daily and always want to comment, I should more. Anyways, why is it a simple story like this brings tears to my eyes, happy tears. Why is it such a simple thought makes me look at my daughter and swell with pride. Thanks for posting it you made my day.

Kristine said...

I like this story. A few weeks ago, a little boy with Muscular Dystrophy looked at me, surprised, and asked his mom, "A teacher in a wheelchair??" His mom took the opportunity to remind him that he can be anything he wants to be when he grows up. It made me smile. :)