Monday, July 6, 2009

Nice strangers vs. jerk strangers

We're back from our mini beach getaway, a glorious few days filled with sun, ice-cream, yet more ice-cream and... superfun bicycle ride consisting of Dave and me pedaling like maniacs and the kids giggling hysterically.

The only bad part of the entire four-day weekend was when Dave let Sabrina watch an episode of Hannah Montana. Now Sabrina is saying that is her "favorite" show. Crap.

One night, we took the kids to a local boardwalk where they have really great kiddie rides. Max looooved this one ride that was basically a merry go round, except with cars and trucks. The line was long and crowded, Max wasn't going to tolerate it. So Dave walked up to the attendant at the exit, explained that Max had special needs and asked if Max could slip in that way. She said OK. Only thing was, Max did not want to get off when the ride stopped. In the end, she let Max stay on for something like 20 rides; he had this big grin on his face the entire time. She wouldn't let us pay for any of the rides. Dave tried to give her a tip, she wouldn't accept that, either.

I am always bowled over when people are this kind. In general, most strangers are. Most—there was an oustandingly jerky dad at the pool yesterday who asked Max to give back the watering can he'd found floating around. The guy packed it away with the rest of his daughter's toys (which she wasn't playing with) and they sat there, unused, for the rest of the afternoon. Grrrrrr! I was tempted to take a photo of him and post it here. And to water him with the watering can.

Got any kind gestures or jerk-like gestures from strangers to share here?


  1. I love the photo of you guys on the bike! Your joy is palpable and I was so glad your story was of a nice stranger and not a jerk one. :)

    I don't really have any stories. I think because Elijah is still so young and his disabilities not quite obvious, most people don't realize he's any different (or perhaps this is just wishful thinking?). Most comments are things people say that point out his differences when they're not realizing it ("Is he sleeping?!", "Oh look! He just loves to look at the floor! How cute."). I know the moments will just come more often as he gets older and sometimes that scares me.

  2. The bike picture is so cute! I'm glad to hear you guys had a fun time.
    Oh, I have a jerk story for you that actually happened this morning. While at the grocery store, I saw a young man in about his twenties who had a disorder with pretty noticeable facial characteristics. When he walked past a middle - aged woman and her teenaged daughter, they both practically jumped out of his way and scurried down the aisle. I thought it was just a fluke, but no, when he got in line at the shopping counter next to them, they jumped away and bolted for another line, looking back at him with frightened and disgusted looks on their faces. I couldn't resist the urge to angrily mutter, "He's not contagious, you know," as I passed them. One would think (or hope) in this day and age that people would be a little less ignorant.
    On a more positive note, there is an absolutely awesome guy who works in the cafe at the hospital where Daniel gets OT. Whenever we go in after an appointment, he asks if Daniel tried hard in therapy. After I say yes, he gives Daniel a high five, tells him he's proud of him, and then slips him a tiny chocolate bar from the candy counter. I wonder if that kind stranger knows how much he's helped with Daniel's recovery.

  3. sounds like such a fun weekend!

    I have had many kind strangers at times...and most jerks are just the staring type. I did have one jerk at the fair last year not let my son just do the fishing game even though there werent any other kids fishing...I was like what is the big deal, we dont want the prizes he just wants to play...but nope. The same fair though we had great guy let Kennedy just sit there and pick out tons of ducks and cheat and pick out all the large prize ones and give her the large prize. I also have had a stranger buy kennedy a minnie mouse stuffed animal while we were shopping in the disney store, just because. Our biggest jerk moment wasnt even a stranger yet a supposed friend...but I am trying to get passed it and wont even repeat it...if you check out my blog and read my R word post back in the archives you can see what it is about.

  4. Lisa, people used to ask why Max was sleepy as a baby. They also used to say he looked "strong" because his hands were often fisted. You never know, maybe Elijah's disabilities won't be visible. I have another blog on that topic tomorrow!

    Jo, that's a terrible story to hear. What is wrong with people?! Love hearing about the cafe guy. Chocolate is a wonderful motivator! For Max, it's jelly donuts!

    Colleen, I guess on some days, the nice strangers and jerk strangers balance each other out! That was a great post you did on the "R" word, I was sorry to read about the comment from that so-called friend. MIND-BOGGLING. Here's the post, everyone, for you to see:

  5. I had a great opportunity to work with developmentally disabled young ladies even before I had my children...So I was already kind of used to those jerk moments. It was hard for me even then holding back comments(and sometimes I didnt hold back)... my clients were like family to me...and even having my own children now and I realize how much it hurts to have those jerks matter who they are being jerks to! So Jo, I can totally understand you saying something today at the grocery store! I once had to tell a couple grown girls how immature they were acting when they put their menus up like Kindergarteners putting up their lunch pals in the school cafeteria when I was out with one of my clients who had a difficult time eating, but was enjoying an evening out having sundaes! I was so glad she had her back to them and didnt realize what was going on. I came really close to getting up and slugging them! Ellen...thanks for visitting my blog and sharing the link.

  6. I love people that are very nice too. Then there is the lady that I encountered at Stride Rite who seems to care less about special needs kids, and wouldn't help me for anything.

    I love the pictures, and the cute!

  7. I love the family photo and I know exactly how you feel.

  8. I guess the jerks and the nice ones really do balance each other out. The ride attendant was so nice to let Max ride for as long as he wanted. It does really look like you had a great time.

    I don't really have any stories, but I have had a few people say to me "your daughter is so cute - you would never know there was anything wrong with her". Um, thanks, I think.

  9. I got an amazing email from a woman named Laura who does advocacy work for people with disabilities, and wanted to share her great words of wisdom:

    As the mom of a daughter (she is 8 and also unbelievably beautiful and interesting) I thought it worth chiming in that depending on the tone and the situation, I myself have often been tempted to use my larger physical size and voice to just intimidate the heck out of kids who make rude, unaware comments to my beautiful daughter—which happens to us frequently about race, about adoption, about all kinds of things… or to try to “teach” them something in that way that leaves them intimidated. I’m in the situation a lot. But I wanted to suggest an alternative approach and an alternative perspective. I can’t always find the slack and the skill myself to do this sort of thing, but when I am at my best (which I am often not, to be sure) in the situation you were in, I might have tried a different tack—which is to get all three kids hanging out as a team—so that when the one young person said “Ew gross” about Max’s drooling—I thought your comment, that he is working on it, was just fine—great even. But you could go on sometime to say something along the lines of, “Oh, you know what I think is really, really gross? Dog poop on my shoes… “ or something along those lines—to get them laughing and telling about gross things—maybe steering them to think of gross things that aren’t about other people or at least not about other young people…” Get them all talking and laughing together about gross things, but steer the conversation away from anything about difference. It could be gross things that we all do—like loud farting, or throw up—or it could be gross things that have nothing to do with humans, but find a way to pull the young people together as a little team, laughing about grossness. I have noticed how laughing together is a kind of glue that pulls people in closer—and how not being phased by a mistake, leaves us (in my case, my daughter and me) more appealing and accessible to young people who are trying to figure out what to do with her seeming differences…rather than scared that they will get scolded by us.

    The other piece of perspective worth remembering is that any 5 year old, who is saying that drool is “gross” must have been told dozens, if not hundreds of times, that things about him were gross—drool, talking with your mouth full, picking your nose, etc.—they don’t invent these things, they’ve had it all aimed at them many times before they aim it at each other…. Which is another reason, in my mind, to go for the “let’s laugh about grossness” approach, rather than the scolding approach.


Thanks for sharing!

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