What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Christmas Spirit?

Christmas. The season of goodwill and all that. Yeah, right.

Put some (parents of ) people with a disability in a room together, and it won’t be too long until they start telling each other parking stories. Well, have a I got one for you!

I pulled into a multi-storey car park of a very busy shopping centre in a nearby suburb in the days before Christmas (I know, I know, what was I thinking?). It’s one of those fancy ones, where they have green and red lights above the parking spots to make it easier to find a spot. The level I wanted to be on was close to the walkway over the road to the shops, and filling up rapidly. There were three disabled spots free to choose from (they have blue and red lights, incidentally). I chose the furthest away since I was not intending to let Boo Boo drive herself in this Christmas shopping mayhem and opted for the manual wheelchair. I proceeded to unpack all my kit: empty shopping bag, nappy bag, wheelchair (which comes out folded and with the seat needing to be re-assembled). Then I picked up my beautiful little girl and carried her to her chair.

As I closed the door, a salt-and pepper coloured blonde woman with a big lime green pram walked past. She looked at me and muttered under her breath – but loud enough so she was sure that I would hear.

She said “Pffff, pop the kid in a wheelchair and get guaranteed parking space.”

I was so gobsmacked I did not manage to respond at all, which was probably a good thing. I mean, really, I’ve hear some dumb comments, some nasty comments but surely this one takes the cake.

Did Blondie think I was faking it? Bought a three and a half thousand bloody dollars wheelchair (not counting the seating system!) to get easy parking? Or does she really think access to disabled car parking spaces makes up for my child’s extra difficulties in life? The extra costs and heartache, the knowledge that every little thing for my daughter is – and always will be – more difficult? Or even impossible? That my three year old girl looks longingly at other kids running and skipping and dancing knowing she can’t do it?

For an effing parking space?

I spend the rest of the day thinking about what I should have said to Blondie. In the end I am glad I said nothing. I was so shocked I would have made a rude remark. But really, this woman with the lime green pram is a very sad person to be thinking like that.

So at the end of the day, I think the best retort would probably have been to go up to her and give her a hug. I’m not sure Blondie would have understood. I hope life gets happier for her.

Any other good comebacks? Suggestions anyone?


Fabbo said...

Blog about it, let off steam.

Then use it as a good story for a SMH Letter to the Editor. The lady might even read it, so you'd get a bonus point in heaven.

(Perhaps hand-out cards saying "Why the wheelchair", and the URL of this blog?)

OhWheely . . said...

We don't have lights for parking spaces here in UK (well I've never seen them) but it's a good idea.
Some people will never understand the ramifications of having a child with a disability. Think how much she misses by judging others by the way she herself would behave. I think being so narrow-minded can be a huge disadvantage. There are so many good things in life that rude woman is unable to appreciate. So sad. Your reaction was just right at that time on that day. Trust your instincts.

Heather x

Angela said...

Okay this is where I get to some nasty thinking inside my own head at times...it makes me wish she knew exactly how it felt!!! I just wish people would not open their mouths and say such stupid things! I am so sorry that you experienced that. A while back someone called Jack "lazy" in passing (we were using a SN stroller) and I had the same reaction...I couldn't think of anything to say. Yes, I put my 6 year old son in a large stroller because he's lazy..yep. that';s it! I wish that were it some days...lol!

Again, sorry you had to go through that. I was so happy to see a post from you! Take care!


mommy~dearest said...

Nope. You probably handled it the best way. I? Would have smacked her. In front of my kids. Because I'm classy like that. ;)

anita said...

Diese dusselige Kuh!!!
Erst richtig schauen, dann urteilen!

Erin said...

Ohhh that's pretty damn classic. lol. What on earth? That should be made into some blonde joke, for real.

Susan, Mum to Molly said...

I don't know that my comeback would be described as "good", but imagining myself in that situation I can tell you that I would have said, very loudly: "Happy Christmas to you too, you stupid b*tch". That's just the kind of angry young (wo)man I am...

Hope the rest of Christmas was lovely for all five of you, and that 2010 is treating you kindly (domestic appliances aside!).

Shannon said...

Man! It must be in the air! I am amazed at what people say and so sorry that you had to hear it. I would have surely done exactly what you did but boy, one of these days it would be nice to get past the shock and have a zingy comeback. I'm working on one :)