Monday, May 16, 2016

Here is another part of the problem with treating special-needs kids like circus attractions and safety hazards.

Following the incident on Saturday, there was another one on Sunday.

I'm not going to discuss the Sunday one yet because I am waiting to receive some information.

Instead, I'm going to discuss the effects of what happened on Saturday, and on Sunday.

Yesterday, after the ending of the second incident, I had to run to the grocery store to pick up some milk and bananas for the week. I took Mr F and Mr Bunches with me, as we usually do.

When we go to the grocery store, Mr F likes to ride in the cart, if he can. At one store, they have big carts with seats for kids. At this store, they don't. But they have big carts, and Mr F can fit into them comfortably.

There is no sign or other rule that I'm aware of that says a kid can't sit in the space of the cart where the food usually goes.

Mr F gets a ride. I, frankly, get a slightly easier time at the grocery store because, as I said, I have to hold Mr F's hand almost constantly. Getting 3 gallons of milk plus bananas is tough to do one-handed, and steering a cart of any size is also tough to do.

So when we got there, I put Mr F in the cart, and we went into the store in the produce section.  Mr Bunches wanted to buy a lemon (I don't know why, either) so we went over to the part of the produce department where there were lemons.

As we were going there, a store employee was mopping nearby.  He glanced over at us, then took a longer look.

That's not unusual; we get sort of inured to people looking at us, because generally I am accompanied by Mr Bunches, who is usually talking (he was, in this case, talking about lemons) and Mr F, who taps his forks and makes his sounds and, of course, is a 9-year-old in a shopping cart.  We get a lot of looks.

I'm fine with that.

Or I thought I was.

As soon as the kid looked a second time, I felt defensive. I thought the kid was going to tell us we had to take him out, or maybe that we had to leave. Or in some way get the manager or someone talking to us. I thought there was going to be a third scene in less than 24 hours, over something that we do all the time.

Mind you, nobody seems to think Mr F in the cart is a problem. Many of the employees at the grocery store we usually go to -- Woodman's, a fine store that deserves kudos-- know Sweetie and the boys on site. Whenever Mr F is there he rides in the cart, either in a seat or in the body of the cart.  I had Mr F in a cart at Sears when I talked to the manager there one day.  This day, later in the dairy section, a man waiting for us to get out of his way so he could get some milk said "I'd just like to be there when you run him over the scanner," and smiled as he nodded towards Mr F.

I have had no reason in my entire life with the boys -- nearly 10 years now-- to worry about Mr F being in the cart.

But I had no reason ever to worry that Mr F carried some forks or butter knives with him.  Until Saturday and again yesterday.

So the end result of this, no matter what comes of the Sunday incident (which I'll provide more details on eventually) is that for at least a while, everywhere I or Sweetie go with the boys, we will have to wonder if the surreptitious glances or outright stares are more than curiosity or rudeness.  We will have to worry that they will result in a scene of one kind or another.

I spent time this morning looking for new swimming pools we could take the boys to. They will not like the change, if we decide to change. But I will not willingly subject them to businesses that treat them like freaks.

Plenty of businesses are great. The Supercuts near us is so good with the boys that Mr F, who used to cry and howl through a haircut, now sits quietly in a chair by himself and lets them cut his hair.  He whimpers a little but that's all. The grocery stores, libraries, toy stores, Panera, plenty of places are very nice to the boys and even pay special attention to them, which is nice.

These businesses made it their mission to single the boys out because they have special needs.

I won't forget it.

I can't forget it.

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