July 28, 2010

Go Play Somewhere Else

Trying to be "normal". Trying to "fit in". Trying to do those things as a family that I did "before".
Trying to go to the squirting fountains at Fairfax Corner.


The weather was beautiful, there was a one-man-band playing children's tunes, dozens of children were playing in the water feature, including my younger three. Bridger was so excited that he was practically flipping out of his wheelchair each time a fountain would squirt..

Then a wannabe police officer (aka security guard) with his fancy patch and walkie-talkie came and told me that Bridger would have to leave -- that wheelchairs were not allowed in the concrete area where the fountains were.
I asked him why.
He replied something about it being a health code violation because the rubber wheels of his wheelchair touch the street and then touch the water area.

I pointed to the dozen+ children wearing shoes.

He said that they were rubber shoes.

I said that they were rubber wheels.

He got a little gruff and told me, again, that Bridger would have to leave.

Perhaps I derived a little courage from having another special needs mom by my side who is the coolest person I know (and her husband who is a professional photographer who captured some priceless moments of the fun.) My normal chicken-liver-ish self would not have pursued the matter any further, especially considering I was being watched by all of the other typical moms there. But I continued to push him and finally explained to him that I wanted him to understand the thin ice he was walking on in what he was saying, which was despite ADA compliance laws, that he was telling a little boy in a wheelchair that he couldn't play there.

He replied, "yes."

"Well then," I said with my blood pressure rapidly rising, "I need to go ahead and talk to your supervisor." He was livid at this point and called his supervisor. He came back and reported to me that we could stay there.

When I got home, from the prompting from my friend, I emailed the property manager of the incident. Immediate reply - dripppping with apologies and a list of action items that he would follow up on and then some more apologies.
I followed up with him a week later to see if it was just lip service to an email, or if he had actually done anything. He replied with 10 items of action that had already been taken from disciplining the security guard to re-educating the entire property management staff on ADA compliance. I had also attached a photo to the email so he could see the cuteness and delight of a little boy that was being excused from the play area. He, of course, thought the picture was adorable and wanted permission to put the photo on the website because he thought it embodied what their mission was all about.
I gave him permission and warned him that a dozen of our wheelchair friends were going to descend on his water feature and test out their new handicap-friendly atmosphere. Which he warmly welcomed.
Shocked that I had to go through that. Sad that it probably won't be the last time. Determined to help our family live a life of inclusion in our community.
Check out their website -- Bridger is 6 pictures down.

Dear security officer: Don't mess with the mama bear, you will get bit.

July 15, 2010

To the Girl

To the girl who came into the world and brought with her a breath of fresh air to a mom that needed it and reaffirmed my new perspective that babies are easy. I'm so grateful to a wonderful caregiver that summer that allowed me to have hours and hours of time to completely spoil you with snuggles and cuddling beyond what any 5th child could ever possibly receive. . .

To the girl, who, at 2 months was sleeping through the night -- which I would like to claim was due to wise mothering, but really was just a gift from God because he knew that sleep was really needed to get through my otherwise long days -- who at 3 months old had quite literally been loved to pieces by 4 siblings and carried by the older kids as some helpless limp cat and thankfully through all of Bridger's hugs you came out unbruised and with all of your limbs still attached. . .

To the girl, who, at 4 months had me convinced that God sent me the most passive, mild and sweet little soul because that is what I thought I needed for my #5. And to the girl, who at 5 months, showed me that she was not a passive, mild little soul, but instead, saucy, sassy and spicy to boot. . .

To the girl, that at 6 months, learned to crawl and motivated an adoring, slightly older brother to do the same and who at 7 months could crawl with him completely hanging on the back of her - dragging him along as she let out little grunts of exertion as she would progress slowly forward. . .

To the 8 month old girl that blessedly became the flexible go-with-the-flow child that lived through mounds of boxes and three homes until we finally got settled and never gave indication that her nap or feeding schedule was disrupted. . .

To the 9 month old that caused me three new gray hairs as her favorite game became "climb on the chair when mom isn't looking and stand up on it with no hands and when mom turns around just giggle". She still loves that game. I'm not quite a fan. . .

To the girl, who, at 10 months was (and is) completely infatuated with a fuzzy, white animal, lovingly named Smelly Bear. . .

(you can see how a bear that is suckled every night like this eventually gets his name)

To the girl that at 11 months, could climb into her brother's wheelchair, rotate herself around into sitting and wheel herself around, including turning, all. . . by . . . herself. . .

To the girl who at 12 months discovered the fun of having an entire chocolate birthday cake to herself -- to do with what she pleases. . .

To this girl. . .

Happy Birthday!

We adore you, we cherish you and we are so very grateful for you little Eliza!