The key word in “disabled children” is children

8523151
Photo from The Province

Disabilities need to be addressed, of course they do. We need to understand them in order to create a harmonious, livable world for all. But there are times where the word “disabled” is nothing but an adjective and children need to be treated as children.

Recently in New Westminster, BC, mother Anna Belinger was heartbroken upon receiving her Grade 2 son’s class picture. Miles Ambridge has an eye-catching smile, but it was the fact that he was separated by his class that could not be missed. There is a gap between the class and the boy in a wheelchair (he has spinal muscular atrophy.) The teacher’s placement could have filled the gap, or having the class could be moved to the left. Or the picture didn’t need to have everyone on benches anyway. What happened, after the company’s reluctance, was a retake was done and Miles was assisted to join the rest of the class on the benches.

Miles never saw the original picture, Belinger fears it will make him feel ostracized. “For some reason it makes me feel worse that he’s so happy in the picture,” Miles’s father, Don Ambridge told The Province. “I think it’s because he’s still innocent… He’s still naïve to how other people treat him.”

A family and their nurse were kicked out of a Massachusetts theatre performance of Beauty and the Beast because five-year-old Nadia Torres was making happy sounds. The little one has a chromosome abnormality and cannot speak. But the fact that she was giggling and humming happily to the performance is hardly unusual for a girl her age. Still, the family was kicked out, being told it was because Nadia was disturbing fellow theatergoers. Her mother, Samantha, says she did not see anyone complain, other than the ushers, and that the family was seated at the back of the theatre anyway.

These are children, children’s memories, times in their lives that will shape their future. Whether it is heartlessness, apathy or not taking the time to think – we as adults need to realize the power of our actions.

I write other stuff too! Check out HillaryDiMenna.com

Through the eyes of a six-year-old: when mom dies

Warning: Possibly depressing as fuck.

When I remember my mom I remember dress up clothes, lace, crafts, and hands in clay, buttons, glitter and bright colours. I felt comfortable in my own home. Not scared, or on edge. Life was good, life was make believe.

She was short with dark eyes. She had dark hair, a round face and a plump smile. She was drawn to big earrings, and I would try to make her the loveliest ones possible whenever I had the chance. She got very involved with aerobics toward the end of her life and dreamed of becoming an aerobics instructor. When she was at a decent weight, and should have been as healthy as ever, she was dying. She found out after she donated blood and the nurses asked her if she was tired. She said of course, she had two young children, yet they advised her to see a doctor to be safe.

My mom was always in and out of the hospital. I grew accustomed to her having me run to Dad to tell him she was going to faint. I used to get so flustered I’d forget the simple request and have to run back to her repeatedly to ask what it was I was getting him for. I just wanted to eat hot dogs and watch Sesame Street. She told me she had cancer, but I remembered the history of Terry Fox and I knew that when the cancer got to his leg, they made him a prosthetic one. We were sitting on her bed, and she told me the cancer had moved to her liver. I informed her she could just get a new liver like Terry Fox’s new leg. She smiled and said, “Maybe”.

I let a balloon go once, on the way into the hospital. Enraged my dad looked me straight in the eyes and told me that that was the balloon I was going to give to her and now I had no balloon to give to my dying mother. I lived in fear of him, but I knew once I was in those hospital doors I’d be with her and I’d be safe. In due course, the hospital room couldn’t continue protecting me. My dad pulled me into his lap and told me, between tears, “God is going to take your mommy from us.”  I cried watching people file into the hospital room. My me against the world attitude took form: no one truly understood the graveness of the situation. I even believed that some people were there to mock my mommy and me. I couldn’t understand how everyone knew that night would be the night. The nurses told my nonna that when someone is about to die, their fingernails turn blue. I didn’t know of marital problems and my dad’s infidelities. The more people in the room, the more it wasn’t just me and Mommy anymore. It was never going to be just her and me again. Fed up with the people around me, I left the room to follow the nurses around and soon lost myself in the excitement over the importance and newness of the situation.

I once asked my mother why people weren’t naturally smiling all the time and not just when they wanted to express happiness — youthful optimism.

I write other stuff too! Check out HillaryDiMenna.com

Babies become kids, kids become teenagers, teenagers become grown-ups … wait!

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 4.08.18 PM 1

Now that P is a grown up, she’s a whole five years old now, I’m freaking out.

Like the way I did when she went from breast to bottle, or when she went to a friend’s house for the first time that wasn’t me and another mom getting together. I’m a normal mom in this sense, right? I cried when I did my sisters’ hair for prom, of course it will be  rough , seeing  my baby growing up. And yes she’ll always need me, even when she’s forty-five, but I can’t stop the bittersweet tummy ache. Every pair of sneakers she outgrows, is a passing of time. I now ask her about her day because I need to, not because I’m helping her engagement skills and vocabulary. She has her own friends, bullies, and teachers who steal her milk money (Teaser for the end of school year post)

This isn’t about me being broody, I don’t want a replacement baby. I want my baby, the one I fight for the best part of the couch with, the one who is kind of mean,  bossing me around when we play My Little Pony.

I am happy, to see her evolve. I love watching it, I swell with pride, she teaches me things (Am I the only one who didn’t know what a rhombus was?) She is healthy and she is happy. That is what is important. I am being selfish, I am being clingy, and immature.

I guess this is just me being a mom?

I write other stuff too! Check out HillaryDiMenna.com