Monday, August 03, 2009
Zero Tolerance Society
My trip with Dominyk was very eye-opening for me. I learned that in our society, parents are supposed to keep children quiet period. Any deviation from that and it suddenly gives the person standing there permission to correct the child. And the inference is that it is a parenting issue.
Dominyk was loud. He was annoying. He could not be quiet. He obsessed about interesting things (being claustrophobic and unable to "take it any longer" on the plane, for example. "Mom, you have to talk to the pilot NOW. He has to stop the plane. I can't take it for one more minute." As you can imagine, I was feeling equally unable to take it.
The shuttle ride home was nearly impossible. He was repeating things over and over again and the driver was right in front of us. I am surprised he didn't pull over and run over to the side of the road and pull out his remaining hair.
The problem is that Dominyk's disabilities are hidden. He looks like a "normal" 13 year old. But he's not. And it is very hard for me not to get really frustrated when someone leans over to him and says, "You can't talk to your mother like that. Didn't she teach you better?" To me, it is just like someone walking up to someone in a wheelchair and saying, "Why can't you walk? Didn't your parents ever teach you to walk when you were a baby?"
I guess it's a wake up call to me as I tend to internally be judgmental. Maybe a situation that I see -- the tip of the iceberg -- isn't the whole story. Maybe the woman who I see scolding her husband in public is beaten when they are alone. Maybe the overbearing guy in the next booth is being treated unfairly at work.
We all have a story within our story.
But we have become a zero tolerance society. And it makes me sad. Because inside none of us fit into a mold that is getting smaller all the time and yet we have to try. And as adoptive families we are clinging desperately to one another because we are with folks who understand.
Lord, help me to not be a "zero tolerance" person just because I live in a society where tolerance and diversity are practiced only in theory.