Monday, June 24, 2013

A little Love Goes A Long Way

Our friend with their daughter
As a woman in the park began to unload what seemed to me a very vulgar and primitive vocabulary on the parents of a handicapped daughter I wondered what happened to love and tolerance. You see, we were at the splash park this weekend with our good friends whose daughter has a rare form of epilepsy called Druvet syndrome. The extensive nature of her seizures has caused severe brain damage and though she is twelve she functions around two and a half to three years of age. She is a wonderful girl. She is fun and she makes us laugh. My four year old is especially fond of her.

Not understanding social limits and being in the water this girl decided to pull down her pants to be more comfortable. Her dad was right next to her but had turned around for a moment. Two women began screaming at him, to which he quickly turned and remedied the situation. However the women did not stop the tirade.  They persisted in cursing him, threatening to call the police and assuring him that they would call social services. Embarrassed, hurt, and being respectful to the patrons he took his daughter back to the picnic area where she played happily, oblivious to the hate that was behind her.

Their daughter still wanted to play but instead of going back to the splash pad her mother decided it would be better to play on the playground. After about 2 minutes at the playground one of the ladies from the splash pad approached my friend and told her that her children were afraid of her daughter because she had grabbed their hands while playing at the splash pad. My friend apologized and told her what was wrong with her daughter. The woman however didn't seem to care and wanted them to leave the playground so her kids could play without fear. My friend (who had been with her daughter the entire time at the playground) calmly said, "I'm sorry but there are a lot of kids like my daughter and they deserve to play at the playground just as much as your kids." To this the threats from the two women began again and they did call the police.

What began as a fun picnic at the park turned into a bit of a nightmare. The police quickly came and quickly left realizing that the girl was handicapped and that her parents were acting responsibly and thoughtfully.

The thing I don't understand was why the women were so brutal. They wanted the handicapped girl to leave because she impeded on their perfect experience at the park. They didn't care about her or the daily and life long struggles of the parents of a handicapped child. They didn't think for a moment what these parents had given up, that they would never see retirement, that they can't go on dates because they can't leave their daughter alone, that they can't afford vacations because the cost of medicine and hospital visits is too great. What happened to love and tolerance? Why didn't those women ask  the parents if their children could meet their daughter and get to know her so they weren't afraid? Why didn't they teach their children that some people are different and that's okay? Why didn't they teach them that instead of shunning someone who doesn't understand that they should help them and defend them and be mature enough to look the other way for a moment?

As parents we have the power to teach principles in our home and in our families that will change the world. We need to teach our children love and tolerance through our examples so that when they leave to school or work or play, our children will be the ones sticking up for others. They will be able to decipher right and wrong and they will know how to handle a simple embarrassing moment at the park. A little understanding and a little love would have changed everything.

I apologize for the missed post. I had it scheduled for yesterday but I hit the save button instead of the publish button. So here is your post. I hope you enjoyed it.


  1. Wow, that one made me cry. I truly can't understand people like that. It's hard to believe it's real. Calling the police? That's ridiculous.

  2. Made me cry too. The things families like this girl's must see and hear. It's hard to believe something like this could happen.

  3. Very, very sorry to hear this. My prayers go to the parent's and the young girl, although, luckily, she was too innocent to recognize intolerance. I've come across this many times in my 18 years as a parent. People using their children as an excuse to hurt and degrade others. Put it in the hands of God. I remind myself to breathe in and out and say a prayer:) Makes is better for a while!

  4. Those mother's at the pool missed a huge opportunity to teach their children about the song they sing in primary. You know the one... "I'm trying to be like Jesus..."

  5. I really like your response to the lack of understanding portrayed in this incident when you stated, "What I don't understand was why the women were so brutal." Instead of being mean, indignant, self-righteous or angry you expressed a lack of understanding. This implies that there is a reason but you are not going to judge what that reason is. Why do I think this is so important? I have come to think of many things as on a continuum. Intelligence can be scaled, for instance, on the low end as unable to score to the 125+, with average being 100. Most of us will muster up a good case of empathy when we have occasion to observe somebody in the below 70 category. But often our empathy is on a scale too. When we cannot ascertain a person's obvious deficiencies then we may not be so inclined to "cut them some slack" when that seems to be what is needed.

    Add to that the sliding scale of mental health. Although we don't assign people numbers as we do with intelligence we tend to react the same way. We may hand out money on a street corner to somebody with a sign, make allowances when somebody's actions seem so different as to beg for our consideration. I am glad for that. But this begs the question - Where is the cut off point? At what IQ level does empathy end and contempt begin? At what point are we allowed to start judging others?

    I ask myself these questions all the time. Sometimes I react just how I think God would want me to react, after all we are all his children no matter where we are in our spiritual development. Then there are those other times..... As a mother of a disabled daughter, I feel for Jessie's parents.

  6. I so appreciate all of your comments. I thought you might enjoy knowing how Jessie's Dad handled this situation. He was deeply hurt and I would imagine that he was feeling very protective of his daughter. After the incident he kept saying, "where is the compassion?" He didn't yell back at those women or degrade them in any way. Instead he looked inwardly. He replayed the situation over and over again. In the end, after sincere prayer, his wife told me he found his peace in forgiveness. We are all a product of the homes we grew up in and the experiences we have had and obviously our lives aren't perfect. I think I can safely say that all of us hope people will be forgiving and understanding of our past, faults, mistakes, or our seen and unseen deficiencies Susan I agree with you. Our empathy, love, and compassion needs to spread to all. It's hard to do sometimes but it's impact on the world could change so many sad moments.

  7. Michelle. Thank you for your support. It really helps to have good friends in my time of need.