Showing posts with label my big opinions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label my big opinions. Show all posts

July 17, 2017

Warriors

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Social justice warrior. SJW, to use the not-quite-clever abbreviation. Why would that ever be an insult with any real bite? To those who use that term in a derogatory way, I suspect it sounds funny because they’ve never lived a life where societal injustice has ever left a mark on them or anyone they particularly care about. Do you occupy a world of privilege without ever actually looking outward with empathy or compassion? Then I suppose the idea of people who fight for the dignity and equity of vulnerable populations might seem silly to you. I’ll give you that.

June 28, 2017

The Monster We All Feed

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
We live in a society where rape culture isn’t just a thing, but a gigantic thing. It’s a monster that we feed constantly, with our popular media and our societal privilege and an institutionalized misogyny that permeates our judicial systems and is now entrenched and protected at the highest levels of the executive. I wish I’d done more in the course of my life to fight that culture of rape and misogyny. I wish my commitment to fighting it had begun in my heart because I’m a human being and not because I’m the father of a daughter. Like the roots of my disability advocacy, it’s a shitty reason for me to care. As a privileged white male in this country, I’m the problem. I should have been talking about this for decades. I have a lot of catching up to do; many of us do.

June 16, 2017

Father’s Day snapshot

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
When Schuyler and I walk together, she’ll still take my hand or lean against me. She’s more affectionate now than I probably have any right to expect. I always tell myself “You’d better enjoy this; one day she’ll be too embarrassed to show you much affection in public.” But I don’t know. She’s seventeen now, and while she’s still changing and learning so much as she rockets towards her future after high school, it’s starting to feel like we know the person she’s going to be. Looking at Schuyler now is to see the young woman she’s going to be, and probably already is. She’s got an impossibly big heart, and the hard world seems to be failing in its constant mission to shrink it.

May 18, 2017

I see you. I see what you’re doing.

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
We push back against ableist speech, over and over again, because we hope, against all the evidence to the contrary, that things might get better. And they did just a little, for a while, I think. And then a candidate for the presidency made fun of a reporter with a disability, and the citizens of this country saw the video of his grotesque behavior and decided that yeah, that’s our guy. And while that at least gave us a platform for advocating for disability rights, particularly at the Democratic National Convention, it also gave people license to say and do terrible things about and to our loved ones. So in the balance, things probably don’t change all that much after all.

May 13, 2017

What she needs

I haven’t posted over here in a while, not exclusively. I’ve been engaged in a more professional weekly blogging gig at Support for Special Needs, and I’ll be back over there next week. This has been a little two week hiatus, albeit an unplanned one. I try not to get too insanely personal or profane over there, and in some ways a slightly more measured tone is probably good for me. When I’m over here, there’s no telling what I might say (balls), after all. I guess this has just sort of become my personal little sandbox now, and that’s kind of nice. (Asshole! Tits!)

I guess the primary reason I’ve taken a couple of weeks off from the other more professional site has been not a lack of experiences about which to write, but a persistent string of incidents that felt too personal to get paid to write about. Getting paid to vent feels a little weird, although I’ve certainly done it before, I guess. Without digging to deep into the details, if there’s been a running theme over the past couple of weeks, and maybe a little longer, it might simply be this. Schuyler has been used very badly by a lot of people. Those include some shitty little friends-who-aren’t-such-great-friends-after-all, a boy who made what can only really be described as a sexually harassing remark to her in his very public place of employment (and the thunder is still being called down from the peak of Mount Daddy-o for that one), and the earnest teacher who believes she truly understands Schuyler but who very, very much does not.

Schuyler has been used badly, and she has stumbled a bit as a result. I know we have a responsibility to discipline her when she makes poor choices, and we have, very much so. But I can’t help but notice that her shitty little friends haven’t suffered any consequences for their actions, which included stealing Schuyler’s iPad and sending horrible messages to a really nice girl in her name. The boy who made a horrible remark to her is protected to a certain degree by his own disability, and I’m not opposed to that, of course. But he keeps his job with minimal consequences, and the school won’t even talk to him about the incident because it didn’t happen on campus so their hands have the appearance of being clean. And a teacher who was supposed to help minimize Schuyler’s social anxiety and awkwardness has instead attached booster rockets to them and sent them hurtling skyward. Schuyler has been left to pick up a lot of pieces this week. It must be said that she helped scatter them, to be sure. But still.

I’ve said before that Schuyler needs overbelievers in her life, and that’s never been more true than now. She’s got a few. Julie and I, certainly. We’ve got an IEP meeting next week, and I think it might be an ugly one, but that’s okay, because it’s always worth the ugly if that’s the last advocacy option. We’re ready to release the Kraken. We’re ready for a whole Kraken rodeo if necessary. (Yippee-ki-yay, motherfuckers.) Schuyler’s godparents are always prepared to listen to her, and give her good advice without letting her get away with any shit, which she will absolutely try to do because she’s seventeen, and because she carries my buggo DNA. And she’s got a few adult friends out there watching out for her.

But Schuyler needs more overbelievers. She needs them at school most of all, where they are in short supply outside of band. Just yesterday, she found out that she was rejected for the campus club that she wanted to join, one whose members help kids with disabilities. The reasons mostly revolved around her difficulties with communications and independence, the very life skills she’d be likely to hone if she were accepted. Schuyler’s had a rough year, and roughest of all has been when she’s made mistakes and no one has been there to guide her into better waters. Schuyler’s had plenty of opportunities for tough love life lessons this year. I’m tired of watching her endure them. I’m inclined to let her breathe a little, but that opportunity will apparently have to wait a little longer.

My greatest frustration with Schuyler’s current school (outside of band, where she is well watched over) springs from how they often seem like they’re in a hurry to be done with her. I can almost hear them counting the days. But honestly, I might be counting, too.

This morning, I’m sitting in the stands watching Schuyler play baseball with her Miracle League team. If you want to see Schuyler in the wild, this is a good place to observe her. Schuyler loves Miracle League, not because she’s an especially gifted player (although she does make a couple of pretty sweet plays today, I’m happy to report), but rather because here is where she feels free to cut loose. Her big laugh is easily heard from the stands. She dances to everyone’s walkup music, she jokes around with every player around her, and she gives out hugs and high fives to players on the other team as they visit her at third base. Seeing Schuyler like this is to be reminded that she’s got the biggest heart of any person I’ve ever met, and likely that you’ll ever meet, too. Here on this playing field, she’s not a collection of expectations or evaluations. She’s not disappointing to anyone who expects her to step into the holes they’ve dug for her. At this moment on a spring Saturday morning, with her backwards-turned cap and her bright pink socks and that atomic smile, Schuyler is all potential. She is as deserving of belief as she has ever been.

I love this young lady, this little girl who isn’t a little girl, and yet kind of is. My patience is being tried, but not by her. I don’t let her get away with much; I’m probably a lot stricter of a father than you imagine me to be. But she’s at a crossroads right now. She needs grace, and she needs encouragement. She needs to be reminded of her strengths, because she has so many. She needs a more empathetic world than the one we currently live in.

Schuyler needs more overbelievers, and she needs them rather a lot.


April 19, 2017

I think I’ve got a quarter if they need one.

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Weird? How are we measuring “weird”? What does “weird” look like for someone like Schuyler? Or for anyone else? I mean, we spend weekends driving around looking for invisible monsters to catch with our phones. Our threshold for weird might not necessarily line up with the purveyors of this particular behavioral inventory.

March 29, 2017

We've met before.

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Those of us raising our kids in public school environments have a pretty good idea of what de minimis really looked like in its worst case scenarios. We’ve subsisted on the scraps that fall from the educational table. For the Supreme Court to now compel public schools to give our kids the opportunity to make meaningful, substantial and “appropriately ambitious” progress? That has to potential to change our lives and the futures of our kids. We’ll deal with the private school tuition issue later. (Private schools mostly don’t want our kids anyway. That’s a very ugly truth.)

February 23, 2017

The Persistence of Little Fish

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
When I wrote about the little fish that quietly eat our kids up while we’re busy watching for sharks, I had no idea how many little fish were going to spawn in the coming years, or how sharp their teeth would become.

January 25, 2017

This is why.

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Schuyler was surrounded and engulfed and protected by a sea of women, and she understood, I think maybe for the first time, just how large her tribe could be. As she grows older, Schuyler's people becomes a more inclusive group, more intersectional. She took a big step at the march. Her disability advocacy took on more feminism that she'd felt or shown before. Her world grew bigger, and with it her protest and her advocacy.

January 19, 2017

Exploring Worlds Both Dark and Lovely

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
In taking my own focus inward to her more immediate world and trying to help as best I can, I feel like maybe I can recapture my own sense of autonomous self. I can't solve the Big Thing, but I can tell her what it was like when I was seventeen and trying to figure out if love was a thing for me. I can tell her what I got wrong, which weirdly seems to give her comfort. I have value as a cautionary tale, I suppose, which is true of my adult, parenting self as well. So many times, I feel like my fatherly approach to the walls that stand in her way is to keep smashing my face into them over and over until I find a brick that's loose.

January 12, 2017

Denial

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
There are two kinds of deniers. There are the kind that are just goofy, like moon landing deniers. They're not hurting anyone, they're just being kooks, God bless 'em. And then there's the other kind. September 11th was an inside job, they say. Sandy Hook was a hoax. The Holocaust never happened. Donald Trump wasn't mocking people with disabilities. These deniers aren't just trying to change the narrative to fit whatever their ideology might be. They are erasing people, they are taking the struggles and the particulars of the lives of vulnerable people or people who have been destroyed by the world and they're simply sweeping it away, as if it had never happened. If there's pain there, from the agony of a family wiped out by a hateful ideology or an act of violence to the heartbreak of a parent watching the future president turn their children into a joke and an insult, well, that pain is wiped away with simply denial. Didn't happen. The media lied. You're being too sensitive. You're being politically correct.

December 28, 2016

"At least I think that's so..."

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
I'm not going to try to pretend I'm hopeful, or that I believe the inherent goodness of my fellow citizens of the world is going to be our salvation. Maybe I should. Perhaps the first step to making it rain is seeding the clouds, I don't know. All I know for sure is that if 2017 is going to be survivable, if we're all going to get out of this intact and not epically broken, it's going to be because we did two things. Two things, just two, that's what I believe is necessary. They're easy, and they're hard. We need to take care of ourselves. And we need to take care of each other, in a very meaningful and personal way.

December 16, 2016

The Value of Protest

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
Protest forms special needs parents into people we would not otherwise be, and sometimes honestly never wanted to be. We become accustomed to advocacy, to stepping up when doing so makes things weird for everyone else. We learn not to care about the awkwardness, because our protest is God's work, it's in the service of the thing that we do that matters the most, the building of an equitable place for our children to operate. Others may care, others may love our kids and want the best for them, but no one else bears the responsibility to get things right like we do. When our kids grow up, many of them will move in various degrees towards independent life, and more important perhaps, lives that have meaning, and personal fulfillment. Our kids will require accommodations in a world that is loathe to provide them, either in services or equal opportunities or even just a social narrative in which they are allowed to be fully human. The world pushes against our disabled kids, and so for as long as we are able to do so, we protest, and we push back.

November 17, 2016

The next day, and the next

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
But the days roll past, and the Big Scary Thing becomes more and more background as the Many Small Monsters continue their work. We don't make peace with it, because when we close our eyes, it's always there. ("Ah, I can't remember!" cue laughter...) But we push it back as best we can, because the life he's mocking is a hard life, and it's hard and time consuming no matter who's the president. Our monsters aren't all that concerned with politics. Our devils don't vote.

November 9, 2016

The New Danger of Difference

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
When Schuyler gets up tomorrow and faces her weary and deeply disheartened father, she will be told that what's wrong with America isn't those like her who are different, or who insist on their humanity without limitations. What's wrong with America doesn't belong to her.

November 2, 2016

A Simpler World

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
I hate this election season, like I hate anything that I find difficulty in explaining to Schuyler not because it’s complex, but because it’s just kind of bad. I feel like every time she hears me explain why a person running for president would lie or mock someone who’s different or say gross things, it dents her a little. Every realization that the world can be awful leaves a little scuff. I hate trying to make sense out of a nationally known comedian going on television and using hate speech to tell the world that she and her friends aren’t fully human. I hate having to tell her that someone wants to be president of her country but they probably aren’t good enough at heart to deserve that job. I hate trying to distill a hard world into something she can digest. I hate having to sell injustice as one of those things that she’s just going to have to accept sometimes.

October 5, 2016

Small expeditions

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Years from now, I hope we see these small expeditions as the beginning of Schuyler's true adventure, the one she takes on by herself, in a world that may be as unprepared for her as she is for it, but which will be hers for the taking nevertheless.

September 21, 2016

Check your local listings, and hold your breath

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
I feel like there's been a subtle shift in how people with disabilities are perceived in the popular media. I think I heard more about the Paralympics in the media this year than ever before, although still not enough when you consider the extraordinary work the athletes put in. On-screen portrays of people with disabilities are becoming less of a big deal, although again, there's a lot of distance left to cover. And the notorious "R Word" seems to be slowly transforming into, if not a taboo word, at least one mostly perceived as being used and defended by low class persons. Outrage at the mocking of a journalist by a politician probably raised more awareness than all the ribbons and marathons of the past year, so, you know, thanks for that. (I'm hesitant to say his name again, kind of for the same reason I don't look in the mirror and say "Candyman" three times.)

September 14, 2016

Toll

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt: 
Being a special needs parent is an amazing experience, but it runs a deficit. The obstacles that society throws up. The constant struggle to be taken seriously by professionals and educators and family and, well, the world. The ticking clock that runs out way too quickly on the protective cushion our kid's childhood provides until it very much doesn't. The isolation. The pain and anxiety our children feel and our frustrating inability to explain or make right the things that impair their young lives. They learn to find their way, and we are central to that discovery. But it takes its toll.

August 30, 2016

The invisible monsters who walk among us

Today at Support for Special Needs:
Excerpt:  
Everyone cry out, because such a statement demands outcry. Ann Coulter stands proudly and feeds off of us, a vampire hungry for hate and sorrow and lights and cameras. But we stand up and we push back, because "standard retard" doesn't get to flutter out into the air without being swatted at. It doesn't do any good to protest, but it feels evil not to, so we speak up and then we turn back to our lives, our difficult but rewarding lives. Ann Coulter may be rich and she may be famous, but not one of us in the disability community would trade places with her, not for a moment.