“I don’t know what to do,” the lady had said. “Tammy is definitely not retarded. She may have CP, and she may not be able to express herself verbally, but she is not stupid. Now, the school wants to put her into an electric wheelchair that she could steer with something like a drinking straw in her mouth, and here I am, the one who has been pushing for her independence, suddenly pulling the handbrake out of the floor. She may be bright underneath her disabilities, but she doesn’t have any sense of direction or of how to deal with the three-dimensional world. I’m terrified that she’ll break her neck!”
“I understand completely,” Mama had said. “Can you bring your husband with you? These teachers listen better when a man tells them what’s what, even though most of them are women.”
“I don’t want to talk about Tammy’s father,” Patsy had replied. “He’s not in the picture, anymore, and I need to stay upbeat for my kids. It’s not a theoretical issue for me. I’ll tell you some other time, but not now. Right now, I need a plan to deal with this electric wheelchair issue, and of course Dr. Lambert’s continuing recommendation that I send Tammy to an institution so I don’t have to deal with her. And what about you? Does your husband take time off work to meet with the experts and educators?”
Mama admitted that she, too, had to go it on her own, but she did not elaborate. She needed to get back to her work. She could share about his tragic death, when she had more time to talk.
After a few more minutes of hurried conversation about the pitfalls of parenting a disabled child, the two had agreed to meet over coffee while their children visited. The girls were already good friends, and Mama looked forward to spending a little down time with another parent who could understand her situation, though this woman sounded completely overwhelmed with the choice between over-protecting her daughter and risking a tragic, possibly fatal, accident.
Original text ©2022 by Karen Lynn-Chlup. All rights reserved.