Saturday, May 1, 2010

Keep Your Damn Pity to Yourself.


I am participating in "Blog Against Disablism Day" which you can find more info about Here

Time and time again, when we explain to people the nature of Gabe's disability, we hear "I'm sorry" or some variation of "I'm sorry" You know, after six years and some odd months of hearing it, I'm used to it. I'm used to the "oh poor you" looks when we leave a doctor's office or the school or library play group, etc etc. I get it, you're sorry. You don't know what else to say or do, so you apologize and you pity us.

Newsflash: We are NOT sorry that Gabriel is the way he is; we don't wail and gnash our teeth because he's sooooooo disabled We don't sit around mourning what could have been and what might be. We are TOO busy being parents of two active children who both work and try to maintain some semblance of a social life to worry about how Gabe's life could have been. We've gotten over it, why don't YOU get over it too?

Instead of saying "I'm so sorry" when I tell you he has spina bifida, how about "Damn that must be rough" Or "you must be tired of constant doctor's visits". Or anything, really, other than "I'm sorry" (and also fyi: Saying "well he doesn't look disabled" is a great way to get a punch in the nose. DO.NOT.SAY.THAT. Strike those words from your vocabulary; I don't give a rats patoot if you don't "think" he looks disabled. He IS, trust me on this, you telling me he looks "normal" isn't reassuring, it's annoying.)

Keep your pity for things and people who NEED to be pitied; who deserve to be pitied. Gabe is too busy being a crazy six year old obsessed with the Blackhawks (and Red Wings Grandma Deb lol), mustangs, the cat, school, and irritating his little sister to be bothered to dwell on what he can't do. Trust me, it doesn't bother him to have spina bifida 99% of the time, so quit letting it bother YOU.

11 comments:

Ruth said...

This really is one of my pet peeves too. Happens way too frequently that people say this, but won't follow through with accommodations.

Living with a disability is a lot easier if folks will listen to what someone needs rather than get stuck at pity.

Wheelchair Dancer said...

Indeed. Indeed. I have often wished for a kind of severe provocation pass; I'd use it often, too. People can be so unaware.

Pity, in my book, is neither helpful nor respectful.

WCD

Jonathon Moxon said...

I'm glad that Gabe likes cats!

What kind of people do deserve pity, though? You brought up an interesting point there.

Bethany said...

I totally agree, this is something that happens to frustrate me too. Pity suggests that a life is somehow less than another, that it is lacking, and as you stated a vast majority of the time I, like Gabe, am too busy living my life to feel like I am missing something because of my disability. And even on the bad days, pity is the last thing anyone needs!

Attila The Mom said...

Amen!

seahorse said...

Pity is the universal experience it seems of parents of kids with disabilities. More so than adults with disabilities I'd venture, because people just don't seem to give a damn about them at all. I feel lucky in a way to be escaping all that misguided, sickly sentiment. Ugh, it must be frustrating.

Assiya said...

As a person with disabilities this is one thing that really bugs me too.

I can't express how much it means, however, to hear parents say this. My parents are less supportive and this blog entry truly warmed my heart. Thank you.

Never That Easy said...

This is definitely one thing that I've had a lot of trouble with from TBA - the fact that they don't GET that "I'm sorry" is a completely inappropriate response. (And the fact that I am often at a loss/too frustrated to explain what an appropriate response might be.) And it just occurred to me that I've never gotten that response from children... if a kid asks me what's "wrong with me" and I tell them, they say things like "Ok" or ask more questions or just continue having a normal conversation, like it's no big deal. (Occasionally, I've even gotten responses like 'cool - can I try your chair?') If I were to answer the same question from an adult, I definitely get the pity response. I'll have to think about this more, try to figure out why kids don't feel sorry for me, but their parents do.

Witkowski Family said...

@never that easy
I think it's because children are very unfiltered-they say what they want because they don't know that they aren't "supposed" to say it. I'd much rather children ask what's going on with Gabe and get an honest answer than get an adult who either stares (quit staring, he doesn't do tricks) or says "Oh I'm so sorry" quit being sorry, there's no REASON to be sorry.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I find "I'm sorry" to be a show of sympathy and support. Living with a disability - any kind of disability - is by definition challenging, and I know from my own life and that of 2 out of my 4 children that it can be extremely challenging. "I'm sorry" - or ANY kind of acknowledgement - beats averted eyes and being ignored, in my experience. I view it as an act of kindness in a world that needs as much kindness as it can get.

Anonymous said...

I don't think there is ANYone who wants or "needs" pity. Pity is inherently demeaning and dehumanizing.

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