I met a lady the other day who completely shocked me with her ignorance. She was a fairly well educated, professional woman who I had been having a nice conversation with until I happened to mention that I had heard of a young boy with cerebral palsy who had been badly bullied at her son’s school. Her response was so unexpected it stunned me.
She replied “I’m not at all surprised, after all they try and force ‘those’ children on us wether we want them mixing with our children or not. It’s not even as though they are normal so why do we have to pretend. They should just build special schools where they can all go then we wouldn’t have this problem. You can’t blame the other kids for picking on them!”
At this point let me say that I have never hit anyone in my life but I could feel this white hot rage building up and all I wanted to do was slap her so hard that her teeth would have rattled! I took every ounce of my self control to remain calm. Our conversation then went as follows:
Me: that’s a very interesting point of view you have
Her: smug smile accompanied by little preen
Me: you see my daughter is one of ‘those’ children.
Her: red face accompanied by squirming
Me: she had a brain haemorrhage when she was three days old and has cerebral palsy. No one could have predicted it before that moment and there was nothing that could treat it or stop it from happening. She’s had hydrocephalus, meningitis, 3 rounds of brain surgery, 2 rounds of eye surgery and was listed as critical for the first five months of her life. I spent hours by her side just praying that she would live. When the doctors told me she would have a disability I didn’t care because I loved her so much that I was determined that no matter what, she would have a life where she was loved and valued. Unfortunately I can’t protect her from meeting people like you. For all that she has been through do you know the one thing that she wants more than anything else? To be accepted the same as any other person! You’re right in one respect though, it isn’t the other children’s fault. It’s up to their parents to teach them to have empathy and to accept others regardless of differences. Unfortunately ignorant, small minded parents tend to breed children the same. One more thought for you to take away with you – disability doesn’t discriminate. Your son could have an accident tomorrow and become one of ‘those’ children. How would you like him to be treated if that were the case?”
Her: “I think I’d better go now”
There was no apology. After she had gone I wanted to cry when I thought of my beautiful little girl and all the other beautiful children I have met. I can only hope that this woman and her ugly mind-set are in the minority.