I don't know how to write this but I'm going to try. I'm afraid I'm going to sound petty and mean spirited and hyper critical. Now I admit I can be all these things but here, I think I've got a point to make. I guess you'll be the judge of all that.
We went to see the new Muppet movie, which I found oddly moving with songs oddly deep, with Mike and the three kids. We were excited to introduce Kermit and Co. to a new generation. As we entered the theatre the row that has disabled seating on either end, with the words 'companion seating' on the seats beside were taken by a bunch of kids about, maybe 9 or 10. The supervising parents were seated a row behind. They saw me come in and offered to have one kid move so we could sit.
Now the theatre had lots of room, the supervising parents were sitting in a near vacant row, behind. Those seats are great seats as they are up a couple of steps and there are no seats immediately in front of them as they look out and over the seats below. I said, 'No, it's OK, I want to sit with my family.' The woman nodded, then we went over to another row where I sat nearish to Mike, Joe and the kids. It would have been absolutely clear that this wasn't optimal seating for us.
Now I get they had no obligation at all to get up and move. Really, I get that. But what bothered me wasn't that the kids didn't move but that the supervising parents didn't see this as an opportunity to teach those kids about how to live well and generously. It would have taken very little effort for all to have good seats. It would have just taken an act of thoughtfulness. I worry that these kids learned something at the film ... that the world was just about them. I worry that Ruby and Sadie come to learn that our style of teaching them to consider others is old fashioned and out-moded.
I had wondered if this was because I think that I have a 'right' to be considered. And then I realize, I do. But I don't think this is about disability at all. I think its about how we all agree to 'be' with each other in this world. It's about noticing someone with lots of packages, or someone struggling with a door, or someone wanting to sit with their family. It's about developing kindness as a skill.
You read that right, I think kindness is a SKILL that can be taught and that can be learned. I think it's about teaching children, or oneself, to look out into the world and see other people. Look out past the cell phone, out out past the innate sense of selfishness that we are all born with. To tap into the very base instinct that comes from being a pack animal.
But then, maybe I'm just grumpy cause I wanted to see the film with my family. Not just from a seat a bit above, a bit behind, a bit left out.
All I know is that if I'm off the mark here.
You'll all tell me.