I have asked my friend who shall remain nameless
Traceyto write about her son and a konversation she had with him last week. Yeah un-huh she Traceyhasn’t even taken the time to READ the blog much less write one.
So I’ll share. I’ve had to explain to a lot of people exactly what Larkin’s Place is and why we need it. I am almost 3 years down a road that needs to be paved and guardrails put up. It’s full of potholes (is that one word or two?) narrow edges, blind spots, mean people and dogs (sometimes kats) but I am lucky enough to have a crowd walking it with me. Sometimes they karry me, kick me and hug me but most of all they love me (in spite of myself)
Love isn’t all we need. Larkin is always included in our weekly playgroup of friends. All typical children. All women who support me by just treating us the same. However all of their children are going to gymnastics, ballet, dance and how about this insult GOING TO THE PARK!! LOL – I have to laugh. Because isn’t that what we are supposed to do? I should be able to take my 2 1/2 year old girl to all of these same activities right?? Well I can’t and I will tell you why:
There are no dance classes for children who can’t walk
There are no gymnastics for children who can’t walk
There are no parks for children who can’t walk AND for children who need to be protected from elements such as wood chips, sand and the cold or the heat.
- Larkin and I attended a music class through the Park District of Champaign, Tot Notes. I signed us up and paid my 75 OMG dollars. Well it set us both up for failure. I can’t knock the instructor because she has a set way to teach the class and she can’t change it for one kid. The words in the songs were too fast. The music was too fast. The transitions were too fast. Larkin couldn’t konnect the dots fast enough and by then we were off to the next song. She was lost and I left sobbing. I did this to us TWICE and I stopped because my heart couldn’t take it anymore. The other mothers talked through the class (even though the instructor asked them twice to please pay attention and not talk) but that is what typical mothers do. I was there for a REASON. I was there for a type of therapy for Larkin. To help her and I konnect and learn language. I NEEDED THIS CLASS. It was not meant for those with special needs.
Let’s talk about parks and playgrounds. Let’s be even more specific and talk about one that everyone seems to love, Prarie Play on Windsor road. More then likely, Larkin will never be able to play there. It sets my daughter up for failure and harm.
- She can’t walk. I don’t notice any other mothers and fathers putting their typical children who can’t walk on the ground there so why would I? Splinters, dirt, sand and wood chips all spell disaster for her let alone the germs that would make her sick.
- Most children and adults with a syndrome, such as Down have a very hard time regulating their body temps. Larkin on a cold day that a typical child could tolerate, can’t get warm and her hands turn purple and blue. On very hot days when a typical child can handle the heat, she can’t cool her body through sweating because either her body doesn’t recognize the trigger to send the signal OR a medication prevents the sweating.
There are a great many children and adults that can’t play on this playground. Think about the sun. Should ANY of us be out in the sun? There is no shade and I’m sorry but I am just not that into skin kancer.
So I tell you all of this to bring you to
my feeling ofbeing left out, different, unaccepted, of no value and defeated. My girlfriend Traceyand her son, The Big D were talking. The Big D was told by his mama that he was going to gymnastic that evening. Big D thought about it for a while and said “Oh Mama is Larkin coming to gymnastics with us?” Unamed friend Treacysaid “No” to which he replied “why not?” which is a very good question folks! To which his mother did not have a good reply. And unamed girl Traceyhad a moment of clarity in which she realized that no matter how many times I have explained the lack of opportunities in this community – she was hit by a ton of bricks when her son asked the simple “why not?”
Kids don’t notice inclusion. They notice exclusion. They notice when a child or person is left out. The Big D noticed. Tracey noticed. Will you notice?