Mama Bear in action

Koala Bear
Who could discriminate against this face?

I know I shouldn’t blog this…there enough people I know in person who read my blog that this might come back to the source, which really wouldn’t be very productive, but I just can’t hold it in. I haven’t been able to do anything since it happened but pace around the house and say, “A BABY! THEY KICKED OUT A BABY!” So let me try to tell the story while being a little vague to protect the (hopefully) temporarily stupid.

Last week Atti and I were at a playgroup. It’s one of those situations where the parents bring the kids, leave them with an attendant, and then go in the other room to hang out with the other parents while the kids experiment with a little autonomy. Many parents leave altogether and go run to the bank or something until the time is up. We signed up for the multiple week session, and when I signed up I talked to the lady about Atti’s disability. She assured me it wouldn’t be a problem, but I was welcome to attend with him to make sure.

Since then I’ve been pretty disappointed, but it was really important to me to make it work. For a bunch of reasons, but the biggest one was that it was recommended by his therapists that he spend time with typically developing kids to get motivated by seeing how they were able to move their bodies. It’s been challenging for me to see the gap between what he can do and what they can do, but I know I’m doing Atti no favors by sheltering him. So I sacked up and did it. In all the times we’ve gone, I’ve never had one of the teachers ask me about his needs. He just plays near the other kids, sits there for the instruction period, but is otherwise pretty much ignored. I tried not to think much of it because he had me with him and wrangling 20 two year olds is not an easy feat. It’s easy to ignore the one that’s taken care of.

Last week one of the attendants I really like was there, and she shooed me out the door. She promised that she would grab me if he needed anything but told me that I deserved a break and he could totally handle some independent play. I was a little hesitant, but I thought again about my instinct to shelter him, so I let him go without me.

I’m not even kidding – not five minutes went by and one of the other attendants was bringing him back to me. Kids often get brought out for stinky diapers, tantrums, separation anxiety, so I figured he just didn’t handle being alone very well. Until I saw my favorite attendant and she told me she got in trouble by the director. The director came in, saw Atti without me, and just said, “He can’t be in here without a parent.” and made another attendant take him to me.

We finished the rest of the lesson, but the more I thought about that the more it stung. I’ve never even met the director. She’s never even asked what Atti was capable of, she just must have known that on his chart it said DISABLED. I read the rules thoroughly. Not only is it nowhere in the rules that disabled children need a caretaker, it specifically states that they will make accommodations for children with mobility issues. If she had bothered to ask I would have told her that the only help Atti needs is a special chair to sit up in. He is perfectly happy to play lying down while the other kids play sitting. It’s not like I’m asking for something that would change how they operate.

I just continued to fume until the time was up, and on my way out to the car I caught up with my favorite attendant. I wanted to hear more about what happened before I went off on a tear. I could barely even say hello before she was all, “What was that, right? I’ve already called her boss and told him all about it. I couldn’t believe she said that, I was so taken aback I couldn’t even stand up to her.” A little while after I got home I got a call from the director’s supervisor and he was apologizing all over himself. I was so relieved that I didn’t have to convince anyone that what happened was wrong. He promised me that this “would be addressed.”

So in reality, I didn’t even have to make a big stink to stand up for the rights of my child. The people working there took care of that for me, and that’s probably the only reason we’ll finish out our time there. But I just can’t shake this…shock, I guess. I mean, the director is like a cartoon villain, right? She kicked out a DISABLED BABY.

I guess it’s hard for me to come face to face with the fact that Atti is going to face bigotry in his life. He’s so perfect to me, it’s hard to accept that there are people in this world who are never going to see him as anything but disabled.