Friday, November 6, 2009

I'm Not an Eternal Optimist

Sometimes I think that people who read this blog think that I'm an eternal optimist. I definitely don't think of myself as an optimist. I consider myself a realist. For me, part of being a realist is trying to avoid looking at the world through disability-colored glasses. I think everybody does it from time to time--assumes that what we're going through is tougher than what anyone else is going through. It's natural.

The other day Hubby was talking about one of his co-workers kids--saying how much easier he thinks it is for him. He tells me, "they just bought him a car that he can steer." And while I'm sure that there are things that are easier when your child is typical, far be it from me to make any assumptions about someone else's situation. And honestly? These people live in an apartment. The idea of a two year old in a motorized vehicle in an apartment is horrifying to me. Think of the wall damage.

I'm sure I do it too.

The other day I went to our local, mostly-accessible playground for a birthday part with Charlie. I brought my MIL along because Charlie pretty much needs one-on-one attention and I was hoping to catch up with some people I hadn't seen in a while. My MIL was on one of the big swings with Charlie in her lap and I was sitting at a picnic table alone, just watching them. A woman sat down next to me with her daughter who was at least five, with very low tone riding in a Maclaren stroller. You can never be completely certain, but I was pretty sure the child was disabled.

I smiled broadly at the woman and her child--excited to be around a fellow special needs parent. The woman ignored me. "Hello" I said in my warmest, friendliest voice. "Hello" she replied, resisting any sort of eye contact, keeping her gaze firmly on her other daughter and husband who were playing on the swings. I continued to look her way, trying my best to look friendly and open-minded.

In the end, I never really talked to her. She pushed her daughter away, and I never got up the courage to say anything else.

So I wonder. . . is the disability thing as isolating as it sometimes seems? Am I open to meeting other people who might be open to Charlie? Or am I too busy playing Mama Bear to give anyone else a chance? Do I sometimes miss an opportunity because I'm scared of being disappointed?

I'm not an eternal optimist. . . but I do play devil's advocate and I wonder. . . are there things I could be doing differently?