An Open Letter To a Parent from Mia’s School:
Today, I became aware of your coexist bumper sticker. I noticed that you display it proudly on the back windshield of your SUV. I am supremely baffled by this because I have also noticed something else. I am not sure if you realize that I know. And, I’m not sure if you have noticed me looking back. I’m not sure if you even care. But I have figured out your secret. Well, you and I both know secret is a bad word. You do nothing to conceal, hide, or cover up your feelings of disdain. To the contrary you wear them all over your face.
What is it about me and my daughter that makes you stare so? Is it the flapping of her arms? Or the way in which she sometimes doesn’t listen to my instructions? Is it her bad balance? Or, the awkward way in which she plays near your children – wanting to fit in but never quite achieving it. Is it the inaudible speech? Or, the fact that she is overweight? Is it the repetitive games the two of us play, day after day? Or, is it…
A long time ago I was ashamed. And, for awhile, I even created, in my very own mind, scornful and sneering looks out of typical curiosity from those passing by. I was lost. I was misinformed. I was a fool. For awhile my own inadequacies in dealing with my daughter’s autism crept through and I superimposed those feelings onto the faces of others – in a pathetic attempt at justification. If everyone else was permitted to look at my daughter with pity, or worse, then I myself wasn’t so bad in doubting her abilities and my own as her mother.
Thankfully, I have moved on from that period in my life. I no longer project my feelings onto the faces of those around me. And most of the looks we now receive are ones of compassion, or better even, none at all. Every once in awhile though, someone like you creeps into our lives and I once again have to wonder what it is about us that makes you so obviously perturbed. I once again have to wonder about society’s idea of my daughter’s capability. I once again have to wonder why presuming competence is an idea so hard for some to accept. Or, why a little girl with a neurological deviation is something you are so troubled by.
But mostly, I would like to know if you understand the definition of coexist?
Kimberly. (You know who I am.)
(On a side note, readers, I think it’s worth noting AGAIN.. Do you have Netflix? Then PLEASE add “Wretches & Jabberers” to your instant queue. And watch it later. I wish I could carry it around and hand out copies to help change people’s perspectives.
Here’s the trailer: