Some Tongue Holding

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To the woman who so kindly pointed out to me this morning that I was parked in a handicapped spot, just know that you should be glad I stood silently staring at you.  For it is the things that went unsaid that may have not come out very kindly and may have created quite a scene for the first-day-of-school crowd at Chloe’s school this morning.  Yes, dear woman whom I will probably see again tomorrow morning at school, just know that my narrowed-eyes glare in your direction was the absolute best response I could muster for you this morning.

A lot of days, I oftentimes say a little “Thanks, Chloe,” when a parking lot is full and we get to not only find a spot to park but actually find a handicap accessible spot that is close up.  It’s convenient at times actually.  And I will sometimes thank Chloe for allowing us to have a good place to park.  For it is her disability that causes us to have access to the handicapped parking spots.

But the fact of the matter is that sometimes I resent having to park in a handicap accessible spot.  This was not the life I planned for myself or for my children.  The fact that I even have a handicap parking placard in my car sometimes makes me mad.  I know fellow parents of children with disabilities know what I’m talking about.  That placard symbolizes living a life with a disability — a disability that we didn’t ask for.

So this morning, I got up before dawn to get my kids ready for school.  I resented the fact that while Zippy went off to his school, I was taking Chloe to a totally different school.  Yes, I was resentful.  My daughter being excluded from her neighborhood school because of her disabilities really rubs me the wrong way, and it goes against everything I believe in.

My resentment built as I gathered the supplies that Chloe would need for the day.  Yes, I grabbed her crayons and pencils and spiral notebooks.  But I also had to grab her diapers, her wipes, her wheelchair, and her walker.  By the time we left for school, my car was filled with armloads of stuff that I needed to carry in for Chloe once we arrived at her school.

Not surprisingly, the school was overloaded with traffic when we arrived.  There were cars parked along the streets for several blocks.  There was a line of cars in line to drive through the loop of the drop-off line.  I pulled my van into the drop-off line, hoping that one of the two handicapped spots would be available for us when we got there.

I could almost hear the Hallelujah Chorus playing in my head as I pulled into one of the handicap spots and hung my parking placard on my rearview mirror.  I said a silent prayer, thanking God for the parking space, relieved that I wouldn’t have to make multiple trips from a block or two away.  I sat in the driver seat for a good 3 or 4 minutes just taking some deep breaths and gearing up for taking Chloe inside.

Once I felt I had it together, I opened my door and walked to the back of my van to get the wheelchair out.  Before I could reach the handle to unlatch the back door, a woman in the car behind me snapped, “Ummmm, ma’am, this is a handicapped parking spot!”

I just stood there for a few seconds with my back to her, frozen.

I finally turned around to face her.  She had her window down and was leaning her head out the window waiting for my response.  Her handicapped placard hung swinging from her rearview mirror.

Immediately words came to my mind.  Emotion and anger and resentment filled my mind also.  The woman had no idea the time bomb she had just snapped at.  I took a deep breath and held it, making sure none of my words and thoughts made it out of my mouth.  I narrowed my eyes and just stared the woman down for a good 10 or 15 seconds, silently glaring while my words fought at my lips to make their way out.

Finally, I turned back to my car without a word.  I popped open the back of my van and reached in for Chloe’s pink wheelchair.  I hefted it out of the back of the van.  I closed the hatch and wheeled the chair around to the side of the van to get Chloe.  At some point, the woman silently drove off.

Yes, dear woman, be glad I am a woman of self-control.  Be glad that I was struck a little bit speechless in my anger.  Be  glad that I kept my words inside this morning.

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Wow. Great post as usual Kelly. As we were waiting this morning I allowed a car to back out in front of me, thinking I was going to take the spot until I saw the blue line. After the car pulled out I rolled past, leaving the spot for someone who truly needed it. The car behind me – who was not needing of it – quickly zipped in. They just wanted the parking spot up front, they did not care who else might actually NEED it.

    My first thought was of you and Chloe, and I was thankful that there was not a parking spot near, as had I had the chance to SEE who got out of the car, I do not think I could have had the same restraint that you did.

    Reply

  2. Posted by papa on August 22, 2011 at 12:01 PM

    Good morning. My prayers have been with you this week in a BIG TIME way! I think now that I didn’t pray enough, but maybe those prayers have been what kept you from pulling that woman’s hair out! I have so many thoughts that I don’t know where to start. I wanted to call you after reading your blog but my heart was too broken to talk for a long time. As I read your blog my emotions went from laughing out loud that some one would tell YOU not to park there because that was a handicap parking place, (I had to stop reading until I pulled my self back together) But then my heart went out to you as you talked about your morning — your thoughts about Chloe changing schools because she didn’t have the sames rights that other children have to attend school with her brother in her neighborhood. I could see you dealing with taking all that stuff that she needs just to be a student into the school..how hard that must have been for you ..but God has been a good teacher and comforter for you ..I know you did a great job! I have never thought about how you might have felt about that placard you hang from your mirror. . . It was after 10am before I was able to finish reading your blog. My thoughts then returned to the lady with the same placard hanging from her mirror… maybe she had the same kind of week that you had… now my prayers are going out for her and her family… You really help me look at a lot of things differently.. THANK YOU. I don’t like being this emotional, but it seems that the older I get the softer my heart is (I don’t want to let it show, but I know it does) Your blog has been very helpful for me .. it lets me see what’s going on with you and your family so don’t ever stop writing it, and keep calling it like it is. I LOVE YOU.

    Reply

  3. I’m glad you kept your words inside. Thanks for sharing them here. You’re a good momma.

    Reply

  4. I just hope that woman was there long enough to see you heft Chloe’s chair out of the back!!! And I must say, I love your dad! His responses always make me tear up!

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    • She definitely saw me heft the wheelchair out. And she was back there — maybe waiting on me to leave — when I went back out to get the walker! Weird.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Brian on August 26, 2011 at 9:55 PM

    You should have let loose, Kelly. I am very angry after reading the post. To hell with being nice to such a moron.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Annette on April 6, 2013 at 9:01 PM

    I am having a hard time with my placard. As a fully abled woman, I get the stares… The comments…”someone’s using grandmas card” … I want to cry, scream (in my mind because I am quiet and nice) and often don’t use my special little card that helps me so much to get my 3 special needs plus 1 more munchkins inside.
    Thanks for writing this post. It gave me words for how I often feel and maybe I will be braver next time and pull out my placard.

    Reply

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