In fact, it took me right back to opening a letter addressed to us.
Additionally, that Facebook family from Newark Delaware has heard from countless others who have also been on the receiving end. I also know others. We all know about Facebook bullying and flaming, but apparently old school letters are still in production. Plus, they can be left anonymously. Cowards.
Families affected by disability are already generally hyper aware of being in the spotlight. They don’t need someone to enlighten them.
When our two were still little we lived in a house on a corner…first one in a cul-de-sac development. The bus needed to park at the end of the driveway and load them up with the stop sign arm out. ONE AT A TIME. Believe me, I felt the pain of that for anyone who mis-timed their departure for work and had to wait once the stop sign unfolded.
Each new bus driver would receive my pleas to let people pass the bus on our relatively quiet road. They would refuse, reminding me that if the bus was bumped while loading, the girls could get hurt. I knew it, but I so hated the inconvenience to our neighborhood. I am capable of putting myself in someone’s shoes and I found myself lacking patience if the roles were reversed. It has been a long 16 years of this scenario and, although we live in a different neighborhood, I am glad this part will soon be finished!
One day I grabbed the mail and noticed a hand addressed letter shoved in. I hurriedly opened it thinking it was an invitation or note of encouragement. I noted the lack of stamp and return address but still felt it would be something good. Looking back I would have settled for a chain letter or even an invitation to a Tupperware Party! Instead I found a letter suggesting we made the entire neighborhood’s morning more difficult by blocking traffic. That “everyone” had talked and were frustrated by the situation. While she suggested she had sympathy for my situation she needed me to find an alternative to the bus stopping traffic…her son could not be late for his morning sports practice any more. (Ummmmmm…couldn’t HE leave 5 minutes earlier???)
Unfortunately, that was not the only time we have been on the receiving end of unkind words.
In general I have no reason to talk about the hurt from words…printed or spoken. And if I’m honest, I’m certain unkind words have come from my mouth, too! I recently read a quote from the Festive Farmhouse and I’d like to think that this has been my journey, the way I have processed:
But, oh my goodness, it is so hard, isn’t it?? When someone states that our family takes up more than our share of time and attention, or that it amuses them to compare the size or development of our kids with their kids, or any other comment that highlights us as extra work or a hassle–stabbing pain.
I am so thankful for those who walk beside us and do what they can to make us feel loved, included…wanted.
Facebook mom, Valerie Greene Jerram, says it didn’t exactly feel like bullying to her…more like a response to fear. Either way it seems cruel. She explained her response:
“There’s been so much through the years that if I were to feed off that anger, we would be miserable. And I don’t want to be miserable. And I want to be that mom that makes a difference for all the other kids and all the other moms.Valerie Greene Jerram
So how can we make a difference? What are real ways that people can express inclusion?
When I tore open that letter 12 years ago, I had the wind knocked out of me. I felt so sick and singled out. I recall the heat rushing to my face and my throat going tight. Our driveway and side door ran parallel to the my neighbor’s driveway and I hustled right over to find out more. I vividly remember her looking up from her laundry and cursing under her breath at the look on my face as the letter hung in my hand. She ran to me with open arms and a hug.
“So it’s TRUE?? Everyone talked??” I questioned. She explained that a neighbor DID come around to try to rally support for her request, but that didn’t mean people agreed with her. Most had shut her down.
And then one by one, neighbors showed up to say “she doesn’t speak for me…we love your family here”.
I believe it was around the time the book and movie “WONDER” became a hit that I began to see so many kindness quotes on T-shirts.
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But what good are words on shirts if there is no action behind them??