Today I was on a conference call where we were discussing a program to teach daycare centers the basics of the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). Some things have been started - drafts - they are interesting. Immediately memories came flashing at me. And something was missing. There was a lot in there about children with disabilities. And there should be. There was generic stuff about the ADA in there and how the daycare centers fit. And there should be that. There was nothing about parents with disabilities. I asked that they add this, as going through daycare, I really did feel like the ONLY parent with a disability. Someone else spoke - they knew another parent with a disability. Now there are at least 2 of us and I know there are others, scattered. It can be lonely.
The memories... When we moved to where we are now it was a bit odd. My daughter needed a new daycare. I always liked the home daycare, but I thought we'd check a center to explore. At that time I pushed my daughter's stroller like a walker. And upon entrance to the center, it was awkwarddddd... attempts not to stare at me. At a potential home daycare, I used my walker. Freak show central! The woman couldn't keep her eyes off the walker. I anticipated somehow being reported to child protective services due to the walker. And at one point I was lucky. I found the perfect home daycare. Then the woman running that went back to work, but she had us go to another lady who was awesome. So I thought I was very lucky.
In the elementary school category, it has just been ... strange. I think it might be where I live, but I am not sure. My daughter has had great teachers and the teachers have been great when I've talked to them. But outside that ... strange. Very few seem to want to talk. I start conversations but usually don't feel that I fit in. If someone else starts a conversation, it's generally an unusual question like, "Is it hard for you to get around on snow and ice?" Hmm... I am not sure what to make of all this. It's totally different than when I go almost anywhere else (well, especially if I leave where I live and drive to the next closest suburb) Going to the school is always awkward until I get into the classroom, with the kids. They don't seem impacted. They all know me. Last year I was greeted with hugs.
To kids, for the most part, I'm Lori's mom. Kids ask me good questions, and sometimes, unfortunately, I'm not in the mood (see "Anonymous"). But I try to hide the mood, because the questions are good.
And then there is Lori. She can be very understanding, or very verbal thinking she only does things (that all kids do) because my legs don't work. But Lori will educate others. She is constantly learning, constantly asking questions. She somehow has an understanding of how to treat people that I haven't formally taught her. She has somehow learned, and passes this along to her friends.
I think perhaps the best teachers may be the children. Children can teach about children with disabilities, but they can also teach about parents with disabilities. Or perhaps, adults can learn from children in terms of how to act, sometimes...
Children of God ... all of us.