So yesterday I went to get my hair cut while Anne was at school... after, Whitney and I went to have lunch together and I had a little bit of time before I had to pick up Anne from school so I decided to run into a shop to see if they had any cute dresses for a charity event we have coming up next weekend. I actually found quite a few cute dresses so I went to try them on. I had Whitney sitting in the front of the shopping cart and had nothing in the cart (except for Whitney) and was holding 7 dresses in my arms to try on. I went to the dressing room and the dressing room attendant very rudely informed me that I could not bring the cart in with me. I looked at her with a puzzled look and said, "what?" she pointed to a sign and said "can't bring the cart in here". I looked at Whitney then looked back and her and said that I would not be able to try the dresses on if I couldn't bring the cart in with me. She just looked at me with a dirty look and didn't say a thing in response. I then said to her that I had never been to a store where if the Handicap dressing room was open that they didn't allow me in with my child in the cart while I went in to try on clothes. (in fact, most times the attendants have been so nice and realize it is difficult with children and that keeping them in the shopping cart is one way to keep them "corralled" while trying on clothes so they usually go out of their way to say the handicap dressing room is open and to go ahead in there with the cart to try on.)
The woman then looked right at Whitney and then back at me and said "Oh, I didn't realize she was handicapped, go ahead." Writing it in the blog post doesn't do justice to the woman's attitude and way she treated me and the insensitive way she pointed out to me that Whitney was, in her view "handicapped" so then it was alright for me to go into the handicapped dressing room. I guess I was just taken aback by her demeanor and the way she called Whitney "handicapped" but it really took me by surprise and as I tried on the dresses I couldn't help but start to cry. This also surprised me because I do not easily cry! I guess in a way it broke my heart for Whitney to be judged and I was so happy that she had no clue the way the woman had just judged her, but I know that this will not be the only time something like this will happen. I guess in her 19 months of life we have been so lucky to not encounter really anything like this, most of the time people just smile and compliment us on how adorable whitney is, how beautiful her eyes are, how well she is doing (which we realize we are so lucky, especially considering how incredibly sick and barely hanging on to life she was in the beginning months of her life). It just took me by surprise and I do not consider Whitney "handicapped" and to have someone else judge her as handicapped and label her it just hurt me for my little girl.
I know that at some point in both of their lives both Whitney and Anne will have their feelings hurt and will encounter "mean people" but I wish as a parent I had a way to protect them from this. I have said to Mike so many times that I wish somehow I could keep Anne and Whitney from ever being 8th grade girls (after teaching middle-school Spanish, I have determined that from what I have observed that 8th grade seems to be one of the worst "mean girl" times in girls lives). Anyway... I know I have read other people's stories about encounters like this and I think that helped prepare me for an experience like this, but at the same time it still took me completely by surprise and will probably help me learn how to be stronger the next time something like this happens (hopefully the next time will not be for a very LONG time).
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!!!
Just have to end with some cute pictures of the girls (sorry, I can't help myself)