Friday, September 27, 2013

A mom's manifesto

There’s some brouhaha about Walt Disney World ending the policy that allows disabled people to skip lines. Disney parks are cracking down on the practice of icky, entitled families “renting” disabled people so they and their diamond-encrusted little offspring can be the first to experience the unique torture that is the Small World ride.
Trust me, as the mom of a four-year-old who needs a walker to get around, it irks me more than anyone to see people abusing a system that was meant to make a very difficult world a little easier for disabled kids whose every step is harder work than some people do all day.
But in expressing their approval for this change, much of the general public hasn’t been, umm, displaying their best qualities, to say the least. These Disney champions have been using a disturbingly broad brush to paint the disabled. A typical response to the change in this policy goes something like this: “Good! The disabled want to be treated equally, so now they will be….suckers.”
OK, so I made up that last part about calling them suckers. But that’s the implication. And to that I say, Gee, thanks! Being unable to walk sure does put my daughter at an unfair advantage over the rest of the world. High-paying jobs and 100-yard dash, look out!
I promise that my little girl expects no special treatment. But as her mom, I do expect a few accommodations. Here they are:  
·         Don’t give me a dirty look when you see me park in a disabled spot. I’m clearly not disabled, and you’re feeling like a parking lot crusader. How nice of you to become so indignant on behalf of all your disabled friends (oh, you don’t have any? My mistake). No I’m not disabled; you just can’t see my daughter and her walker because I haven’t taken them out of the car yet. Trust me, she’s disabled. Oh, and fuck you.

·         Don’t sigh when you’re walking behind us because she’s moving too slowly. Don’t try to barrel past us, either. Unless you’re carrying a cooler with a kidney in it, just wait 20 fucking seconds. I’m sure the really time-sensitive and important thing you’re rushing to do (like cash in your tickets at Chuck E. Cheese…I wish I were kidding) can wait.

·         Open the fucking door for me if I’m struggling with several bags and trying to keep my daughter steady on her feet. Me and that poor old lady crossing the street are desperately wondering where all the Boy Scouts are.

·         If you want to know why my daughter uses a walker, just ask in exactly that way: “Why does she need the walker?” Please restrain yourself from asking “So what’s wrong with her?” (again, wish I were kidding) to which I should have replied…um, what’s wrong with you, fully grown and presumably practiced-in-the-art-of-manners adult? If you can manage to do it politely, please ask away. It's better than staring. Plus, you'll get treated to my four-year-old's precise pronunciation of "diastematomyelia."
So that’s it. That’s all I ask for. See you at Disney. I’ll be the one banging my head against the side of the boat on the Small World ride.