Teaching Something

I’ve read many posts about educating others about what it means to be special needs, about how to be honest about the medical equipment or attitude issue so that the person learning understands the basics and can then treat that person (or others like him/her) with respect.

But, I think it’s easier said than done.

The other day, after an extremely tiring, puke-filled road trip, we decided to stop quickly for Mexican food. I needed a margarita, to be honest.

But Potato was late on his feed. And as any tube feeding parent knows, you must stick to the feeding schedule come hell or high water. Or the need for a decent burrito.

I made my way to the very tiny restaurant bathroom to hover over the one sink and clean out the pump bag and extension tube. It was all going peachy until the first visitor to the bathroom, a mother and her very precocious son.

I could hear them in the stall talking about life. About why somebody somebody no longer comes over to play (“She’s older than you, hon, she may just be acting that way”) and why it was important that he be able to go to the bathroom by himself someday.

When they got out of the stall, I moved out of the way of the sink so they could wash their hands. And as I gave my most reassuring, motherly smile to the ginger-haired kid, he asked quietly, “What’s that, Mom?” and pointing to the bag.

The mother yelled at him, “DON’T ASK THAT, IT’S RUDE!”

And promptly dragged him out of the restroom.

Honestly, I would have been more than happy to say that I too had a little boy who just so happened to eat through a plastic port in his stomach, not through his mouth….yadda yadda yadda. At least then, when he saw my smiling, bouncing baby boy, he would realize that those that eat through their stomach are pretty normal.

But as I was thinking this, another mother came in with a very annoying (sorry!) little girl. This little girl’s toilet conversation was a bit milder, although it involved a lot of whining (“I don’t WANT to do that!”).

After she came out of the stall, I again moved out of the way to let them at the sink. I think the mother was shamed into washing the girl’s hands as they were fully prepared to leave the bathroom without. Gross.

Anyway, as the girl approached the sink and saw me standing there with the bag, she dug in her heels and began screaming, “MOOOOM! What IS that? What IS THAT?”

Honestly, I think she thought I was going to stick it up her nose, or some other orifice.

The mother started kicking the girl towards the sink. Literally kicking her. Finally the mother said, “We all have our medical devices. Just leave it alone.”

After two parents that just didn’t take the opportunity to do anything but shame their children, I said, “If I told you what this did, you would lose your appetite for your dinner, and we don’t want that, do we?”

The little girl looked at me ashen faced and backed out of the bathroom.

By the time the bag was washed out and Potato was hooked up to the feed, I realized that I was no better than the parents who hadn’t educated their kids properly. I was no better than those parents that let their kids stare at Potato when he’s getting a feed.

Oh well. Better luck next time!

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