- Disabilities & the Disabled
VOID IF REMOVED
noun dis·crim·i·na·tion \dis-ˌkri-mə-ˈnā-shən\
: the practice of unfairly treating a person or group of people differently from other people or groups of people
: the ability to recognize the difference between things that are of good quality and those that are not
: the ability to understand that one thing is different from another thing...
Maybe because I'm a child of the 70's... maybe because I was raised in Ohio... maybe there will be a time in our lives where we can stop searching for when it didn't matter to you if someone was black or white, a time when you didn't notice if the kid playing next to you in the sandbox had a disability. An f-in time when every person was the same as you, human, with the same heart, bones and organs that you have and just shared his/her shovel in the sandbox when you really needed one to get that last level of the castle "exactly" where you saw it going...
I honestly don't know the exact age of my nephew now, but I remember when he was only 2 years old... all he wanted to do was dance with the other kids at a Jersey Shore Fireman's dance night. It was the first REAL time I learned what a "negro" was. I put that term in quotes because the definition in itself is true, the street definition became a whole different thing that I have spent the past 25 (or so) years trying to put behind me.
That, to my discovery on my road of life was not to be (apparently) the ONLY time that the word DISCRIMINATION would EVER come to my attention.
When I was 39 years old and finally in a relationship that was good and safe, a career that could carry me through retirement very comfortably, I delivered a boy who is not like ANY boy... his name is Evan Wesley. EVAN meaning "gift from God". WESLEY = my grandfathers brother who believed me like no other on this earth, a man who had the strength of a million horses, President of the NYC Laborers Union in the 70's who drove the COOLEST Cadillac with the shiniest rims I will never forget... the man who would give me $5 to sing for him, call me a "Star" but I think only because he knew I would be the only kid in the house who would take everyone else to the candy store and spend that $5 on everyone else BUT me... regardless, you GET why Evan got that for a middle name... was born with Down Syndrome and soon thereafter diagnosed severely Autistic to make the bad situation JUST that more worse...
I've fought my battles in life with everything. Nothing I have been afraid to tell (my past blogs), but today, I feel like my greatest battle for both my son AND my nephew has just begun... Today, to bring something positive to my nephew's world and ALWAYS a great time when it's just me and Evan, we were faced with the craziest form of discrimination.
We started the day off beautifully with the rising sun on the beach, a good cup of Starbucks, my brothers most recent ratdragon playlist and a positive mindset, with a journey to Point Pleasant, NJ to further the "fun" and great mood we had found our selves in, only to find in the final hours of our journey to be shot in the face with the most confusing situation I have found myself personally to be in, in quite some time...
My nephew (referred to earlier in this blog), my son Evan (clearly mentioned), and I arrived in Point Pleasant, NJ, valet parked the car and immediately headed to our favorite place for lunch, Martells Tiki Bar, which besides the fact that the beach eating area is NOT handicap accessible, walked Evan down by hand and simultaneously helped my nephew get the stroller down the stairs. We had a successful lunch, departed the restaurant and spent the next 2 hours or so going on the rides and playing the boardwalk games.
NOTHING is easy with a child who is disabled. Evan is a shining star, but when the activity he's doing is done BELIEVE ME it's done. :) What do you do then? Ahhhh, right... "Martells Tiki Bar has a LIVE band going on at 2pm!"... technically the answer was right there... or was it?
We arrive, pleasantly re-greeted, Evan hears the music and he's off and dancing! BUT, it wouldn't be a trip out with Mom when you become THAT happy to hear live music and Mom is NOT doing the "spinning, dizzy, fall down" game... ha ha ha I had SUCH good fun with him until... the band took a break.
Yep, you guessed it. Evan got bored and went for a run... not that the sweat on my brow was enough from spinning him into the dizzy delirium that he loves SO much on the dance floor (the 20+ times I did it for him), he pulls up a bar chair on the bar ALL the way on the end of the pier for a cool Sprite and a Red Bull for Mom with the utmost love from the bartenders for the energy that was just sucked out of me and CLEARLY needed to be revilitized quickly.
I noticed the same security guard from the front end and I had the bartenders try to get his attention to let my nephew know (who was still at the front of the house with the stroller) that Evan and I were OK, but he wouldn't listen. Evan drank a great portion of his Sprite, we said our Farewells and Thank you's to the bartenders and made our way back to the front end so my nephew wouldn't get too un-nerved that we were gone too long, only to have Evan SO happy to be back by the music (that was still on break) pull up his chair next to my nephew, where I proceeded (in light of the fact Evan wanted to wait for the band) to order a beer only to get REFUSED by the bartender at the front of the house. When I asked why, the excuse I was given was that he had watched my nephew (who was NOT drinking or even ordering a drink) "swaying" earlier while he was trying to get Evan's stroller down the stairs (because there is NO handicap access to that section). WHAT? A.) EARLIER = 2+ hours before he even mentioned it B.) who is NOT going to "sway" with a 50 pound stroller awkwardly going down a stairwell because there is NO ramp C.) my nephew wasn't ordering the drink D.) I WAS!!!!
Sadly, my nephew already knew what was happening and immediately left. I got it after the FAILED excuse for denying me the drink but I couldn't let Evan feel the bad energy this guy was feeding directly at him, so I stayed with Evan until he finished his Sprite from the back bar and agreed to help me go find my nephew. I could NOT even LOOK at that bartender. I honestly could NOT BELIEVE what the he$$ I just heard out of his mouth. Out of pure respect for my son, I calmly just got him out of there... I was just kind of happy to see EVERYONE that was at that front bar with us walk out as well. The disgust on their faces and sympathetic looks on their faces toward us told me everything.
I never thought I would have been back in that Fireman's Dancehall again... I never thought I would see such discrimination against a child. OH DON'T THINK THERE WERE NOT CHILDREN THERE... there WERE... just none of them were disabled. THEIR mothers were drinking the day away from the same bartender without a glitch...
I've always been the girl who never cared what anyone thought of her and I believe the friends I've made along that way have been the BEST. Friends who have loved me for EXACTLY who I am, regardless of what I look like, the music I listen to, the clothes I wear... why the FU@$ would I expect the world to give my family and children any less, regardless of what color they are or what defects may inhibit them?
This is a difficult blog for me personally because my nephew and my son are BOtH beautiful and amazing people full of NOTHING but love and consideration for others and I am DEEPLY hurt by the prejudice and ignorance that they were given today. I will forgive, but sadly I'm not sure I will ever forget...
What makes me hurt more is when I think of the people and children who are not just effected by color or disability, but by sexual nature, etc... why can't we ALL just play in same sandbox together? When did becoming a "grown up" involve hating the kid who once handed you the shovel that helped you build that last level of the castle?
When exactly did we forget who we were...