07 July 2013

A Brief, Non-Accusatory Post

On Saturday after running errands, the three of us decided to swing by and get some ice cream before we headed home to our non-airconditioned apartment on a steamy 83 degree summer day in July. We were the only ones in the store as we ordered our ice cream, found seats, and dug in. It was a slow day as the ice cream place had just opened and the two people on staff were mostly just standing around. I ordered Abigail her own personal kiddie-sized ice cream (a big day for her ; ) and she was contentedly eating when a mom with twins somewhere in the 2-4 age range walked in. They ordered and sat down on the other side of the shoppe from us. A few minutes into their ice cream, one of the employees blew up two balloons, one pink, one blue, and walked them over to the kids. Their mom ordered them to thank the employee and tied the balloons to her kids' wrists. The guy returned to his bored-looking stance behind the counter while the family finished their ice cream and left.

And that was that.

No balloon for Abigail.

I didn't march over to the counter and put up a stink. It's a freaking balloon. Maybe he thinks Abigail is too young for a balloon (she's pretty little). Her mistaken age has never stopped her from getting a sparkly star sticker at the library or a free munchkin at Dunkin Donuts, and it's not like a balloon is a choking hazard. Who the hell knows. What I am certain of is that, no matter what the Oberweis employee's intentions, things like this are going to happen again and again to my daughter; there will be countless battles to fight, and I plan to choose them wisely. Anyway, when I got home, I posted this to my Facebook page:

"The other kids at the ice cream store get a balloon, but Abigail doesn't...it makes me want to assume the worst."

And do you know what the troops did? My friends and family who are supposed to love us through thick and thin? Almost nothing. I had four solid responses from people - four responses that listened, felt my pain, and responded. But if I post a picture of Abigail happy and smiling, I'll end up with Facebook notification alerts for a few days. Dozens of "likes," maybe a dozen or so comments. When life is good, the troops are solid. But when things are bad...I felt deserted.

It's a well-studied fact. When things are going your way, when you win the lottery, when you're on top of the competition, people come out of the woodwork to be your friend. People are drawn to happy, successful people. But when tragedy hits, everyone gets uncomfortable and leaves. Like Job in the Bible. You know, the "fair-weather friends effect" we'll call it for the lack of a better name. Maybe no one was online over the holiday weekend. Maybe everyone thought I was over-reacting. Maybe no one knew what to say. Maybe the ice cream scooper didn't like my "different" daughter. Who knows. I'm not trying to be confrontational. I hate confrontation. If we're friends on Facebook and you saw my status and you ignored it, I'm not trying to insult you or call you out or make you uncomfortable. I'm just talking, just mulling over the "what ifs." I had friends jump ship when Abigail was diagnosed with Ds, I know what it feels like. But I never thought about more people jumping ship if things get worse again. How many people will jump ship if Abigail is diagnosed with leukemia? How many people will jump ship as Abigail ages if she is "low functioning" cognitively? Who is in our lives now but will abandon us if she gets Alzheimer's in her 30s or 40s?

Correlation does not always equal causation, but my two facts are that I posted the bad parts of Abigail's life online and I heard the crickets chirp.

And I dread the day she's old enough to care about a fucking balloon.


Kate Sherwood said...

Maybe they just did not know what to say, and they couldn't hit the "like" button, because they did not like the situation at all. I wish there was something similar to the "like" on Facebook, but that indicated "My heart goes out to you in this difficult situation."

Of course, I could be wrong.

Regardless, I am so sorry about the balloon. That had to hurt like only a parent can hurt for their beautiful, innocent, loving child.

Kate @ BJJ, Law, and Living

Cam Wollner said...

The weird thing is, I almost always see your status updates, and I was on this weekend, not quite as much as during the week, but I totally didn't see this one. I'm not sure how the whole facebook thing decides what goes into the feed where, but it's seemed strange lately, because I'll sign on and the thing at the top will be from like a week ago based on likes or whatever, so I wonder if it had something to do with that? I honestly don't know. I hope it's something like that and that other people just didn't see it too.

Because that is horrible. I practically jump in front of balloons to wave them off because somebody (Mae is definitely the guilty, still puts everything in her mouth party) in our house would totally try to eat them and they always seem to end up in a fight with tears when our girls have them... but to bring them out to other kids and not Abigail... that's horrible.

I'm really sorry that happened to you guys. I would be furious and hurt... It makes my eyes tear up just thinking about it...

(And I need to email you! I spent all last night catching up on emails and I'm still not done!)

onecatholicmama said...

Well, a balloon can be a dangerous choking hazard for babies/young toddlers..because if they try to mouth it, it can pop in their mouth and they can inhale the little rubber pieces that can block their airway. Like, I wouldn't let my baby anywhere near a balloon (and I don't see myself letting her have one in another year either).

I do think their really could have been an innocent reason like that on why Abigail didn't get a balloon. Or maybe they just gave balloons to the twins because twins tend to garner a lot of attention and really the employees just weren't thinking.

IDK..but I generally always try to assume to best. One of the best things my parents taught me was to "make excuses" for other people's behavior (people who you really have no contact with, that that just fleetingly annoy/hurt you) so you don't get mad/hurt/upset by them. For example, that rude guy who speeds in front of you and cuts you off...he's on the way to the hospital because his wife is having a baby.

And, I can definitely understand how hurt you would be by this and worried about how Abigail will have to deal with this her whole life..so hugs again.

Liz said...

I have written and rewritten a comment to this post and then when I finally finished something, it got deleted. So, I give up! I'm clearly not meant to say anything!