Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shut Up!!

I hate bank line ups.

Even when there's no one in them.

But when there's ten people ahead of me ... it's almost unbearable.

It's time's like these I'm grateful for my chair. I just sit back and roll myself slowly forward. This is good especially today. I've not been feeling well for a couple of days and am only in the bank under duress. I feel victorious when the line in front of me is shorter than the line behind me. I like glancing back at the end of the line and thinking, "Poor sods."

It had to happen and it did. A child begins to tantrum. First a couple of quiet grumbles then a full on out and out screaming tantrum.

"Shut that kid ..." I begin to think as I glance towards the mother trying desperately to quiet the child ... umm ... the child ... ahem ... the child with Down Syndrome, "... up."

I didn't care.

It didn't matter that the kid had a disability ... 'shut up'.

I felt like an equal opportunity tantrum-hating line-stander-inner.

I noticed the others in the line up notice.

I saw them arrange their faces to look patient and understanding.

I set to wondering what they'd look like if it was a typical kid. I'll bed they'd be right annoyed. That they'd have the ... 'why don't you take parenting classes' look on their face. But here they practially beamed at mother and child.

You know, it's ok to be annoyed with a kid with a disability.

"That's a face that wouldn't raise funds," I thought as I the kids face contorted into bunches of anger and frustration.

Here's a shocker. I don't like all people with disabilities. Some of them that I've met I actively don't like. Can't stand the sight of. And some people with disabilities I like well enough but they can drive me crazy some times.

And that's OK. That's how it works.

Equal doesn't mean special. Equal means equal.

That kid and that mom had the right to be in the line up.

I had the right to be annoyed at the tantrum.

It's the tantrum that's relevant. Not the type of kid having it.

Mom did a decent job of settling the child down. Without giving in, I might add. The good behaviour wasn't bought ... I like seeing good parenting - primarily because it leads to quiet children in bank line ups.

What impressed me most about mom is that while the line-up was ready to tolerate "special" behaviour from a "special" child - she wasn't.

And neither was I.


Anonymous said...

I, too, am happy that that mom used effective parenting skills with her child. I work with adults with disabilities, and it is easy to pick out the people who were raised with the philosophy that their differences were not licenses to misbehave and get away with murder, nor were they non-expiring coupons for a never ending supply of cookies, candy, pop, etc. used to coerce positive behavior. As adults, these people are able to cope with the failures and tribulations we all face. The people who were raised by parents who catered to their every whim and who granted them leeway to behave in any manner they chose are now really struggling with the realities of the adult world. When told that, as a member of a communal household, everyone must do their share of housework, these are the people who stomp their feet and say "no", expecting a reward for the simplest of tasks.

Catering to a child's whims to "make up" for their disability only creates another type of handicap - lack of self discipline, self control, and self esteem.

Thanks for another great read!

lina said...

Kudos to mom - I could feel the hair in the back of my neck go up as I read, I was both the annoyed customer and the mom who wants to be swallowed up into the ground so the stares will stop!
and imagine that people with disabilities who you don't like, hmm, there are even some angels who work in this field who I don't well...refer to as that the same thing? people are people are people and i would bet there are a fair shair of people, with disabilities or not, who may not like me - as hard as that must be to imagine!

All 4 My Gals said...

Aw Dave, but you know kids who have Down syndrome are always happy! hee hee hee. I want to invite people over when they give me that prejudicial, blanket, idiotic statement. I remember when I was pregnant someone telling me that she (the baby within my belly) would never lie. And then I remember being so proud when at 3 1/2 she lied!

Now with her two younger sisters I simply buy them off with trips to get ice cream. That bad parenting tactic has helped me to gain 15 pounds. ;)

My favorite thing to tell new parents when they ask what their child will be like is, "well if your other kids are brats, this one will be too. If your other kids are well behaved, she/he most likely will be too."

Susan said...

Hi Dave,
I just want to remind everyone that sometimes a child who appears to be a "brat" can have a hidden disability. A small child with an autism spectrum disorder can present as the world's most spoiled brat, when in reality he are doing "the very best he can with the cerebellum he's been given". (I can't remember who to attribute that quote to, but it is a mother of someone with autism.) I have a grandson with asperger's who is a very dear child but has meltdowns which have nothing to do with poor parenting. My daughter has bravely endured many a withering look from judgmental onlookers who just don't understand.

On the other hand, I have to agree that a disability is no reason to give up good parenting. And congratulation to those people who hang in there in the most difficult and frustrating circumstances.

Imperfect Christian said...

Bravo to the mom and to YOU! My kids may be special, but they are expected to behave just as if they didn't have an extra chromosome...just like my son. Children live what you expect of them, my expectations for my kids are the same, whether it's my son without DS or my daughters WITH DS.

Anonymous said...

I too believe in equal treatment. We as a society keep disabled persons disabled by treating them differently. People need to learn from an early age to live in today's society whatever the disability/ability. We don't take the sweets and fats off the buffet table because of a medical isssue nor keep the bar closed. We all have our limitations to live with and do so with whatever ability we have.

Anonymous said...

Some years and years ago, I did a bit of work at the Perkins school for the Blind (in their program for deaf students with additional disabilities). One of the teachers there told me a story about an incident that occurred somewhere outside of the school -- she was working with some theater group to do some rehearsing, and there happened to be a blind woman sitting in the auditorium (I guess it was an open rehearshal? anyway) who apparently started making noises and otherwise distracting the people in the theater group who were trying to focus on their work and getting ready for their performance.

Finally, this teacher asked the blind woman to please remain quiet. At first, the blind woman resisted this and complained that they needed to understand that she was blind. So the teacher bluntly explained that she worked with blind children every day and did not accept blindness as an excuse for rudeness. And the woman was completely silent after that.

I guess this woman was someone who might have been coddled when she was growing up, instead of being taught the same standards of behavior as everyone else. It can be sad to see the effects that this kind of childrearing practice can have into adulthood.

I was lucky to escape that problem. I'm Deaf/deaf and grew up with a hearing sister and hearing parents. My parents had the same behavioral expectations for both of us (adjusted somewhat only for our differing ages). I do vaguely remember that there were a few incidents when I was young when some adult or another child would try to excuse misbehavior on my part because of my deafness, or otherwise try to make exceptions to the rules for me etc. But then my sister would speak up and say, wait a minute, Mom and Dad don't let her do that just because she's deaf. And that probably helped a few of these adults/baby sitters etc stop and think about what they were doing.

I wouldn't want anyone to pretend that they like me (if they actually don't) just because I'm Deaf. If you act nice to me and hang around with me, then I want it to be because you WANT to be nice to me, or WANt to hang with me, not because you think you're supposed to do these things.