Sunday started out ordinary enough, but there was something in the air... Relaxing in the morning, getting some painting done on some of the little details for Sammi's party. Samantha was a big help painting little wooden stars, and stuck with the project far longer than I'd ever expected her to. Wanting to take advantage of the absolutely gorgeous day, we went over to one of the playgrounds nearby, nestled in a grassy ravine between two rows of townhouses. I could see 3 children (possibly a year or so older?), two boys and a girl, playing together on the climbers. One of the boys called out, "Hi, Sammi" as we approached. I swear, this kid really does know everyone! Sammi played on her own for a few minutes, then decided she wanted them to play with her. Interrupting their game of zombies on a bus, or some other fantastical in-your-head kind of play, she tried to get them to come play restaurant with her, at the little built-in take-out window beneath the slides. They didn't quite know what to do, I think, so they ignored her requests, which eventually became rather loud pleas. The snarky mom in me told the children (although I think I wasn't loud enough and don't think they heard me) that it was okay to just tell her they didn't want to play restaurant, rather than ignoring her. Not wanting to embarrass her (even though she doesn't really know about embarrassment), I asked her to come to me so I could quietly tell her that they wanted to play their game, not hers, but she could still go play on her own. She refused, stubborn, insistent, getting louder with the kids, and eventually joining in their game, in her own rather backwards-y way. They were tolerant. Kept playing around her. Beneath my sunglasses, sitting silently on a swing, I let it be known very clearly that I was watching. Had a little stare-down with one of the boys, my unspoken message received perfectly. Eventually, through a combination of me guiding her away and her realizing they weren't going to play with her, she went to do something else, with me.
I asked her if she was sad that the other kids didn't play with her. I think she probably wasn't, but I wanted her to understand what that meant, that it was okay to be sad. I think I may have wanted her to be sad, because it's appropriate. Maybe she just hides it well, refusing to acknowledge that something bothers her, internalizing it, as she does with other things. Like a splinter in a finger, her hand pressed tightly against her back so no one can see what's wrong, saying, "it's okay...it's nothing..."
A little while later we went out to shop for new sneakers for her rapidly-growing feet. Okay, well, her feet don't actually grow very fast, but I suddenly realized that the Pumas she'd been wearing at least 3 days a week since last August no longer fit her, and a next size was needed. We headed over to Ross to see what they had. She picked up a book in the children's area and lay down on the floor, legs stretched out behind her, in front of a shoe mirror. I crouched on the floor between her feet and the wall, eyeing the shoes displayed there on shelves. Shortly, I heard a voice behind me. "You'll have to get off the floor."
I turned and saw a woman in a Loss Prevention vest, addressing my child. Now...there are times and situations when a person should address my child directly. But this wasn't one of them, and I had a response for her.
Me: "Really?!? She's a *child!* Why should she have to get off the floor? She's just reading."
LP Lady: "Because we have to keep the pathway clear, for safety."
My 20 years of retail management experience certainly tells me that yes, the path needs to be clear. It's a liability issue. But the mom in me, and the fact that we'd only been there for about a minute in that position, told me that this lady clearly had nothing better to do.
Me: "Well, *you* try to get her to move then (knowing full well that Sammi, who was having a particularly whiny and inflexible day, would throw the *biggest* FIT if I tried to make her move from something she was enjoying). And if someone needs to get by, they can ask *me* to move, since I'm taking up the rest of the space in the aisle. You just let *me* handle it."
She backed off, and we went back about our business of purchasing shoes.
Overreaction? Sure. But I think my point was valid and I was perturbed that she would address Samantha about it, when I, the child's mother, was clearly sitting right next to her. This situation had absolutely nothing to do with disability, real or perceived. It was solely about the inappropriateness of the situation in general. I may have been a bit extra-touchy, but I may have made my point.
My baby girl turns 7 tomorrow. Tomorrow!!!!!
I have more important things to think about than social injustice today. :-)