Monday, September 15, 2008


One of my friends tonight said what patience I have with physical obstacles and people--she saw a middle school principal almost back over me--I was already getting the scooter off the lift before said fluff head principal even approached or got into her car. I have to stay behind the lift to raise it back into the van, thus I was more behind her car than my van. If she'd *thought* she could have figured this out, that I was behind her car because I had to be, not because I wanted to be. Then she stopped her car and glared at me. Way to pull out the welcome wagon.

The only accessible entrance to the middle school gym, where my daughter plays volleyball, requires me to traverse the side of the court where I can get thunked by balls (and almost did) from the practice before my daughters'. I can't ride side saddle and look for balls. I wish people could figure out things like this. I look before I cross--no balls likely to hit me--I start to cross but can't keep looking, now there are balls flying my way and people yelling at me that I shouldn't have kept going. The regular entrance to the gym has a very small step just high enough to make it inaccessible.

This is why I avoid sports practices and games. Normally I try to use airplane rules for myself for everything--all meetings and events--first in, last out. That prevents accidents, crowding, etc. and allows me to get an accessible parking place. It does not, however, prevent someone's child from scooting up close to me between me and the bleacher and using her feet to scratch paint from my scooter and bumping me until I tell her nicely to stop and then her mom gets mad.

Oh, yes, and the coach? Looks right at me and hands all the other parents information packets but not me. Gives me a "who are you?" look. My friend had to tell her several times that I was a parent too because she couldn't hear the same words coming from my mouth. Everyone else over 10 or 11 was a parent. I don't know what she thought I was. Good thing I know 3 other moms there. One mom could hardly deal with it. People don't like difference. Her teenage daughter was more immediately accepting, handed me the regulation 5th grade ball so we could feel the weight (they are lighter than regular volleyballs).

Anyway, my friend says I show a lot of patience and she'd have a short fuse with these things. I appreciate that, because while I seethe sometimes, I must not show it as much as I feel it. Except to you, my readers, whom I worry think that I'm filled with bitterness at the world. Not really. But frequently irritated or slighted, yes.

It's always an adventure to go out into the world like this. You never know what will happen next. Some of my friends are catching on that the "little things" happen all the time.

Writing it out soothes the soul. Truly, it all went pretty smoothly since I've dealt with more.

Yesterday we ran into a former coworker of my husband's whom we had not seen in years. I could tell she was wondering what "happened," but it was sort of awkward to bring up that way so no one did, which was actually fine and good since I get tired of explaining. That was a nice change.


yanub said...

I don't know if it could be called patience, or resignation. No one can possibly fight every single instance of discrimination when there are so many, following so rapidly the one after the other. And you know it will be this way the moment you leave the house. If you weren't prepared to accept some degree of it, you could never leave. But I do hope you sometimes have the energy and the allies to fight it. Maybe send your blog post to the school principal or the local paper? Schools are one place where at least the adults in charge should be educated and aware enough to not be creating unnecessary barriers and demonstrating discriminatory attitudes.

FridaWrites said...

Resignation is a good word for it! And sometimes I do hesitate to leave or dread it because of the emotional cost.

The principal of our own school (this is one we visited) is much more understanding, thank goodness.

I had a dream last night in which a van without disability tags parked partially in the wheelchair access aisle, partly in the disabled space in an otherwise empty lot. Of course, this has happened.

A more general editorial or letter to the editor might somewhat educate more people.

william Peace said...

Wow, does this sound familiar. My son's school is theoretically accessible but the reality is very different. There is one curb cut at the entrance that is routinely blocked by parked cars. The auditorium is a disgrace and out of compliance with the ADA despite the fact it was recently renovated. The accessible bathroom is always locked to prevent vandalism. When I bring up such inequities the principal either runs away or tells me there is no budget for capital improvements. While capital improvements would be nice an unlocked bathroom door is not much to ask for.

FridaWrites said...

Would the school be willing to paint the curb cut bright "disability blue"? At least that wouldn't cost much money, though it irks that they didn't think about it during renovations since that's the law. And accessible doesn't do any good when someone blocks off that accessibility. The elevators at my daughter's school are kept locked even during events when all kids are accompanied by parents. The only real accessible bathroom at my kid's school is a new one and theoretically it's for kids only, but I'm going in! There aren't doors on the outer bathroom there, thank goodness. If I'm in a pre-1990 building there's no guarantee I'll get in at all, even a restaurant.

Brand new service counters that don't have part of it at accessible height peeve me too (gym, library, etc.). I don't think the whole counter should be lowered since tall people will get back problems from bending over, especially employees using the counter all the time. But a portion of it is supposed to be wheelchair accessible!

If only we didn't have to choose our battles so much.

william Peace said...

The school has no interest in access. Painting the entire curb cut blue according to the principal would be an eye sore and deface the entry way. The problems disabled parents encounter are ridiculous and needless. A modicum of thought would solve most problems but no value is placed on the inclusion of disabled parents and students.

FridaWrites said...

I'm sorry that your son's school is so inaccessible--including all people is so important and it hurts to be left out when we're trying to be part of our kids' lives.

I keep hoping something changes, changes, changes but it seems a bit hopeless sometimes.

william Peace said...

Sometimes equality and easy access seem very far away indeed. But when depressed I often think that I am among the first generation of disabled people to escape institutional life. When viewed in this light disabled people have come a long way in 30 years.

FridaWrites said...

This is true, and I hope more will continue to change. It won't be fast enough! I do know friends who hang out with me get a lot that they didn't before about inaccessibility.

Katja said...

Schools, God! I had a party in June when my youngest graduated high school - I will never have to deal with principals/school parking/auditoriums/lunch rooms/award ceremonies/choir concerts/swim moms/the rest of that crap again. It wears you right down.

FridaWrites said...

Yes, it's tiring and endless.