One of those who commented on my post about the ballet said something I'd like to talk about:
Dave - my first reaction, OK my second reaction, the first being upset
for you, was your comment about Ruby watching you. It struck me that
your reaction and that of Joe's would be much more of a "life lesson"
than the treatment of those with disabilities for Ruby. She probably
doesn't view you as disabled - you are Dave sitting down. Yet - she
would know when you are upset and would learn how you problem solve and
treat others. Funny how that jumped out at me through the "steam" of
frustration. I'm sure the teacher in you takes every opportunity to
mirror appropriate behavior to such a young and impressionable mind. We
all need a Ruby!
This anonymous commenter is quite right to note that Ruby was watching me too. I know that. Every moment involves a choice, the biggest choices we make are about our words and our temperament and how we handle difficult moment. When this all happened, I chose to deal with it then and there, with Ruby beside me. The first incident where we were unable to sit together I handled entirely away from Ruby, I didn't want this to 'touch' her first visit to the ballet. But Ruby is 5 now and very aware and alert to issues regarding accessibility. I've heard her say, when her parents were planning to take her to a 'play zone' kind of place for her birthday, somewhere she's aways wanted to go, 'Will Dave be able to get in, does it have steps or stairs?'
She also knows when people stare at me or when people talk to me like I'm her age. Ruby is well versed in disability as 'fun' and knows that a visit with Dave and Joe is full of activities and things she enjoys. So she knows 'both sides' of disability. Just like anonymous said above, she would be learning about treating others. There was no opportunity to teach problem solving because there were no options to discuss, no input into seating, we were just moved. I believe children need to learn 'how' to be angry ... I would never teach that one ought 'never' to be angry. So, here's what I did, these are the rules I follow:
1) I don't yell, I may speak forcefully and with passion, but I don't yell.
2) I don't swear, ever, when I am making a formal complaint.
3) I state my position clearly and outline why I am upset.
4) I don't hold an 'usher' (as in this case) personally responsible for what happened.
5) As I boarded the elevator to go up to seats I didn't want, I said to the usher, I hope you realize I'm not angry at you but at the situation.
6) The next usher who took us to our seats was not brought into the discussion at all, except I mumbled something about the seats I wanted and booked were the best seats.
I've always thought that children need to see adults upset but not out of control. I think it's important for kids to learn that they have a voice to use when they have been treated unfairly or inequitably. I hope that Ruby grows into a strong, proud, woman who has a voice that gets action when she uses it.
Thanks for you comment Anon ... I wanted to put a lot of this into the first post, but as I was sending that post to the National Ballet, I didn't think they wanted to read about my approach to child minding - so you gave me the opportunity.