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Tides We Shouldn’t Have to Swim Against

This post is cross posted. It was originally posted on my blog Kidneys and Eyes in May. The Too Big site was down for a couple of months and I naively thought the site owners rethought their position to continue their judgmental, mean-spirited site but no. The site is up again. I’m hoping some more awareness of this subject will add more pressure.

It’s amazing the issues we face on a daily basis but it stings just a little more when it’s blatantly for disregard for others.

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Sometimes what you don’t know can hurt.

There’s a blog getting some attention because, well, mainly because it’s rude. Too Big For Stroller. It was started by a self-proclaimed “twenty-something,” who likes to take pictures of kids they believe are too old to be pushed, carried or worn. The kids’ faces are hap-haphazardly covered with a humorous “WALK,” so clever. And funny.

Except the humor can be targeted at kids with special needs. I take exception to that, because I have a couple of my own. It’s also pretty judgmental, but I’m just addressing what the blog owner/s don’t realize when they blast a stroller pusher or a kid. I mean, we’ve been putting up with judgmental people for years, as was the case here, when someone questioned why Quinnlin was in a stroller.

I too used to judge people. It was wrong. It was wrong as a fellow parent and person. I blogged last year about an experience several years ago where (to  myself) I judged a parent with a big kid in a stroller. Then I had a couple of kids who couldn’t walk according to baby book schedules and I looked back on the memory and felt shame.

My kids’ muscle tone, medication side effects and slow development made them late walkers/talkers and put them at a disadvantage. It put them at a disadvantage with their peers. It put them at a disadvantage navigating their world. Because, by society’s standards, they look “normal” in every other way people look at them and don’t know anything is different. Here’s the thing. Every single  day my kids have to fight against something. They have to fight against their desire to not be poked and prodded. Their bodies had/have to fight to live. They have to fight against the tide of bullies. They have to fight against their circumstances to find a way to live happy. They have to fight against their own deficits just to have an average chance to find a place to belong.

You want to know why they had to ride in strollers when they looked “too big”?

– Because, while they were ambulatory, they got tired very easily. A chronic disease will do that to you.

– Out in the world, they had hard time seeing curbs and steps and uneven pavement because of their vision issues. Typical kids stop their face from hitting the pavement with their reaction time and their hands, but for my kids a simple fall would result in face plants to the ground. Teeth being knocked out, concussions, pain. ER visits. Trauma.

– The meds they were on to keep their hearts safe from damage due to kidney failure also made them tired so that didn’t help. Hence, the sloppy walking and falling. They also couldn’t play for an entire day; often they’d have to nap in the afternoon. Yes, my 7 year olds had to nap daily.

– If they weren’t in strollers, they didn’t have a chance to last full day out somewhere. If we wanted to give them experiences out in the world we had to help their bodies.

– Kidney failure has the unfortunate side effect of dehydration at the drop of a hat. Which lands us a trip to the ER and a hospital admittance. Time away from school and life, thousands of dollars in co-pays later, it was always our goal to avoid the hospital, the tests, the IVs.

– When my first kid had his kidney transplant he had muscle pain in his hips and couldn’t walk more than about 25 feet without excruciating pain. That lasted for about 8 months. Should I have just kept him away from Disney World? Should I have just made him suck it up and walk because he was 8 at the time?

You know what? It took my kids years to walk. It took work – theirs and ours and the multitude of therapists, not to mention thousands of dollars. It took braces for their feet and walkers to steady them. When someone makes fun of a family’s use of a stroller, it’s insulting. It’s hurtful.

The blog owners claim it’s all in good fun! It’s funny! Relax people! Except they aren’t taking into consideration that they are creating an environment in their corner of the blogosphere that makes it look okay to treat people with judgment. They are making people think, it’s no big deal. It’s all in fun!

campingfall 054 199x300 What You Dont Know Can HurtExcept it is a big deal and it’s not fun to me. My kids go through enough in life with their health, their better than average odds of not living an average lifespan and bullies (both by kids and adults) and their continual hard work to keep up in the world. People don’t know what they’ve been through. My kids shouldn’t have to deal with people judging them for things that, honestly, don’t really matter. It’s just kid in stroller. They hurt no one.

Sites like this tell kids – disabled or not – they aren’t good enough. They tell people my kids aren’t good enough; all in the name of fun. Sites like this tell people they are doing something wrong with their kids; all in the name of fun.

Sometimes people don’t see the harm they are causing, because it’s subtle. Sometimes someone needs to tell them making fun of people – judging them for their choices – isn’t funny. Sometimes people will get it and sometimes they won’t. Our hope is that once people know better, they’ll do better.

Now you know.

Because I had time, just for fun, I started a Facebook page for Just Right for Stroller…hope you’ll “Like” it.

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