Saturday, November 8, 2008

Fun Day/A Surprising Word




















Today was definitely a fun day today for Samantha and me. Renee, Sammi's former PT, hosted a giant playdate at the Old Mine Ranch. Pony rides, loads of sheep to pet, a moon bounce, a sand box (complete with kitty poo from a couple of very sweet little kitties), a hay ride, about 30 preschoolers (including Sammi's classmate Bella!) and lots of space to run around made for a very full and exhausting morning out. Thanks, Renee, for inviting us! It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and it was so nice to be somewhere that Samantha could run around and explore without having to worry about cars, treacherous terrain (with the exception of the occasional pile of bunny poop) or other common hazzards. I do have to worry with her, though, because she can be quite fearless.

I actually bit the overprotective parent bullet today and put Samantha in the moon bounce for the first time. There weren't too many children in there, and all the kids were roughly the same preschooler size, so she was pretty safe. She crawled around happily at first, but with some coaxing I managed to get her to stand up and try walking. She laughed hysterically every time she would tumble over and just got back up again. I was very proud!

Now, about that unusual word... The woman who runs the ranch was very, very nice, and obviously loves what she does. And she does everything! From taking the money to guiding the pony rides to driving the tractor for the hay ride, she seemed to be everywhere at once. The fee to get in is $6.00 per person, with children under two admitted free. Of course Samantha is nearly 2 1/2, so I gave her $12.00 (I remember a thread on one of the Down syndrome message boards a while back about whether or not people lie about their kids' ages to get discounted admissions and wondered what I would do in that situation once Samantha was two. I think I'd have a hard time lying about that anyway, even if I wanted to...). A few hours later, she came up to us and handed me back $6.00, apologizing for having accepted it from me in the first place because "All the handicapped kids get in free." I was so surprised to hear that word ("handicapped", not "free"). Not because it's bad (she was so nice about it, and totally sincere), but because Samantha, in my mind, is so far from being "handicapped" that it's almost laughable. But what is the real difference between "disability" (not such a surprising word) and "handicapped" (a kinda startling word)? I definitely acknowledge that Samantha has a disability. Can any of you differentiate for me? Just to settle my own curiosity. At any rate, I thanked the woman and tried to give her the money back, telling her Samantha had a wonderful time there. It definitely didn't bother me--it just gave me food for thought.

8 comments:

Monica said...

Intresting.... I'm with you it would really not bother or upset me. But, even if she would have given me the money back and said the "disabled kids" are free, inside I would have chuckled because we also don't see Adam as being that differant. Yes, some things can be harder for him, but, hey we all have our issues!!! The thought behind this though was in the right spot....very kind..and I guess whats in the heart is all that really matters...

JaybirdNWA said...

Handicapped refers to a disadvantage and disabled refers to a lack of ability to do something. While my child may be at a disadvantage from the "typical child", he certainly does not lack the ability. While your gracious host used the correct term for this, I'm not sure I could have accepted her calling my son either. For me, it is the connotation of the word that offends. Here in America, we often use words incorrectly. To use the word correctly, we are all disadvantaged life by something even though we may all be able bodied people.

Carol N. said...

Great food for thought, Becca! Gotta say my first reaction was, "nothing different between the two words really, just one's an older term". I even stumble over the word "disability" now and awkwardly attempt to say "differently abled" (although that does not roll off the tongue so easily).

Political correctness does make one pause and consider our language more than ever before.

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. In reading your post today, I can't help thinking back over the years to how I fought getting a "handicapped placard" so I could park in the designated spaces with Sarah. I would haul her suction machine bag, oxygen tank and the wheelchair once she outgrew her stroller from way back in the parking lot. My friends could not understand why I wouldn't get the "sign". Well for me it was simple: I just did not look at Sarah and see "handicapped."

Then one day a friend said to me, "You know Joyce, it's not meant to be degrading, it's meant to be a privilege." Wow, I had never thought of it like that because I was so hung up on people not seeing Sarah any different.

From then on I lightened up a bit, and tried to give people the benefit of the doubt. The truth is, most of us would not have known all the politically correct terminology until our children were born. So I began to look at things differently, as teachable moments. I tried to be accepting rather than get angry or upset. I feel most people are simply trying to help.

Becca said...

Thank you all for you feedback--you've provided some valuable thoughts about this. Jay, I think you hit the nail on the head (and exactly what my husband said about the difference). Very, very interesting. And Monica and Joyce, I don't view my daughter as handicapped or disabled, either, so the thought of getting a placard would be difficult for me. My husband has pointed out, however, that those placards are also available for people with children who pose a risk of running, such as out into a parking lot in front of cars. I can understand that, but would feel like I'd have to explain myself to every person who even glanced in my direction, thinking that they were looking at me wondering how I could feel so entitled as to be using a handicapped parking spot for no apparent reason. Carol-"differently-abled" is the best way to put it! Toys R Us puts out a "Differently-Abled" catalog every season. Great stuff, and major kudos to Toys R Us for even including children with Down syndrome in their regular catalogs (I counted 2, possibly 3 in the fall catalog)!

Sarah Heegaard said...

First, I'm sorry that we didn't come. I am more than suffering from allergies and can barely make it outside even when drugged.

Secondly, as to the woman's comment, I agree with Monica that her intention is the most important thing. She was trying to do something nice and doesn't know the current vernacular. My younger brother and sister are both adopted, black and learning disabled - my sister more so and she was labeled "retarded" a word that is really no longer used. But, then again, a lot of people won't use "black" but will say "person of color." I don't know, they've always been "black" to me but no more or less so than they've been my sister and brother. Words can be loaded in so many ways... Most people don't understand the nuances but mean well.

BTW, as far as the parking stickers go, many people have disabilities/health issues that you can't readily see. I just trust that if they need to park there, they need to park there and it's really none of my business as to why. Of course, a small minority will take advantage of parking there when they shouldn't but you can't police the entire world!

Jeanette said...

This was an interesting post. It made me think. I am sometimes taken aback when someone calls out Sydney's "disability". Like you, I just don't see her as disabled. She is another child, having a good time. There is not ill-intent, but it just reminds me that the world sees her as different. Hmmm...

gracie1956 said...

My understanding of the prefix dis is this...dis=difficult, as in... abilities are sometimes more difficult to obtain. I found you from the "chewing the fat" blog. I like your writing and I will be back.