Wednesday, December 17, 2014

That Mom

(DISCLAIMER- Now this picture is a bit extreme and I really hope that it doesn't cause to much grief. I also hope that the people involved have changed their way of thinking. I also don't know anyone in this picture.)

What do you see when you look at this picture? How do you feel? How do you think the child in the wheelchair feels? What do you think the parents of the child felt when they saw it? What about the other kids; or the teacher? Click on the picture to make it bigger if you need to. 

I see kids dressed in their finest clothes because they knew it was picture day. All of the kids on the risers I am sure were smiling, or maybe sticking their tongues out to be goofy (although you can't see because their faces are blurred out). I see a boy in a wheelchair that is smiling from ear to ear. I also see him parked as close as he can be to the other kids. I see him leaning to one side, maybe in an attempt to be closer to the group. To some, this may look like a bunch of kids getting their picture taken. All smiling (maybe). All just a bit awkward because, let's admit it, no one really likes these things as a kid.

As a mom of a child with special needs, and in a wheelchair. I see a sweet kid that is being excluded from the group. I see a kid that is smiling because he doesn't know any better. I see a kid that is leaning over because he wants to be closer to his friends. I see kids sitting where they were told to sit, by an authority figure. I see red. I can feel my face getting red and can almost feel flames starting to shoot out of my ears!

This picture stirs up a lot of anger in me. And I hope it does in you too. Only when our society, as a whole, gets mad when they see images like this, will the world change! I do not blame the kids in the picture. I don't blame the parents, assuming that they had no idea what happened until it was too late. I do blame the photographer. I may even blame the teacher who knows this child and interacts with him every day. 

I instantly become "that mom"! I see a child that was not integrated into the class. I think about the fact that next month, our child will start the process of going to a school. I think about how hurt I would be if that were my child, off to the side, by himself! He probably wouldn't care and would be all smiles; that is just who he is. He would be blissfully unaware of what what happening; just like the child in the above picture.

I am not asking anyone to completely understand. I am not asking for your pity. I am not asking you to walk in our shoes. I am asking you to open your eyes. I am calling for a change. This change starts with YOU! It starts by being sensitive to those around you. Now days we seem so caught up in our own worlds. To busy to notice one another. The next time you see a person in a wheelchair that is struggling to get into a door, open it for them. When you see a child throwing a fit in the store, don't turn away and give dirty looks. Offer to help. When you see a child; that so desperately wants to be part of a group, that they are leaning over as far as they can, ask that they be put in front and have the other kids stand next to him.

I am also asking for you to TRY and understand that when a mom like me becomes "that mom" and makes you want to run and hide, don't! TRY to understand that she is ALWAYS aware of things like this. She has walked a long road and during this walk she has been forced to learn how to fight. She has been forced to see things differently. She will try her best to not become "that mom" because she really wants to be nice. She has so much love in her heart, and she wants to share it. Some times all it takes is one person to put out the flames that are shooting out of her ears. It takes one person to say "I understand what you have been through and I will stand by your side. I will stick up for your child. I will try to see the world the same way that you see it." Some times it just takes one.

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