My Biggest Pet Peeve.

Let’s talk about my absolute biggest pet peeve – people in disabled parking spots without disabled placards!  Maybe I have anger management issues but this seriously makes me want to scream.

Today, I was out with my girls running errands. We parked one spot over from the disabled parking. I do have a placard but typically don’t use it unless it’s icy or we have Ali’s wheelchair with us.  I like to make sure that people who need them more than we do have access to them. I might use one on a really crowded day because it’s very hard for Ali to walk outside but today there was lots of available parking. As I grabbed a cart, I noticed that there was a blue Dodge Dart in the very well marked disabled parking stall that did not have a placard. I see that all the time. Typically it’s someone carrying a heavy bag of dog food or someone who runs in and out within about 2 minutes – neither of which make it okay. I went in to the store, we used the washroom, did our shopping and came back out and the car was still there. As I was loading up my kids, a lady in about 4 inch heels and dress so tight that I’m surprised it didn’t explode sauntered up to the Dart and bent right over and licked her finger and sighed as she rubbed a little bit of dirt off of it. Maybe she thought her car was pretty spiffy but I have trouble getting excited over a Dart! She sort of stood back and examined it (I know the look because I look at my Pilot that way) and got in and checked her makeup and as I was pulling out, she and her friend were still getting themselves organized to leave. She was obviously in no hurry to vacate that spot that they had no right to be in. Now, I am the first to say that disabilities are not always visible but if you do not have a valid placard, you should not be in those parking spots. I would love to give her the benefit of the doubt both in regard to her fashion sense and her parking job and assume that she didn’t know that it was a disabled spot but it’s very obvious that it is. I think she parked there to avoid door dings on her car and that pisses me off.

I have a feeling that my many, many friends who do have a right to those parking spots would gladly take all the door dings in the world to give up the need for that placard. I would and I’m pretty anal about my beloved SUV. This woman’s life is obviously way to easy if she figures she can just help herself to something that is meant to make life easier for someone for whom a simple outing can be very difficult. I only wish my life could be that simple. I have seen families who have children with severe disabilities struggle into and out of the grocery store with their children because ALL of the disabled parking spots were taken by people without placards! That is NOT okay people! If you have one display it. If you don’t then leave the spots for someone who does. I don’t care what the circumstances are, there is absolutely no excuse for that. It’s lazy and entitled and it stinks! You know what, maybe she missed the sign. But I see it all time and all these people, in this small town, with a limited number of parking spots are not missing the signs!

So I’m going to put my soapbox away now and get on with my day. But please, next time you think to yourself, “I’ll just park here. It’ll just be a minute”, don’t!  What if three other people also think that way and use all the parking stalls?  You could be making it so that a senior citizen can’t get their groceries, a disabled parent might not be able to get to their medication or a disabled child might not be able to get into a restaurant for a well deserved outing.  It’s not a perk, it’s a necessity.  It’s illegal to park in these parking spots without a placard and it carries a huge fine.  These spots are there for a reason, to make life a little simpler for someone who’s life is probably very challenging. If you don’t need them, don’t park in them. It’s really not that difficult of a concept.

Looking Forward to Kindergarten.

With our summer vacation behind us, I find myself thinking about Ali starting kindergarten.  We’ve done a lot of planning and preparing for this.  She’s worked hard to be ready and I know that she is.  I’m not so sure about myself.

For almost 8 years, I’ve been a full time mom.  Madi has been in school for a while and she’s loving it!  It was a difficult transition for Madi with lots of tears for the first week but we sorted through it and now, I think she’s at her happiest at school.  Ali’s transition to full time school has been a little more gradual but that transition is coming to an end this year.  She’s gone from being a child that needed 24 hour care from me to a child that’s ready for kindergarten!  While I’m incredibly proud at the progress that she’s made, it’s hard to imagine that when September comes, she’ll be out of my care for the entire day.  I’m honestly not sure what I’m going to do without her!  We are truly codependent.  I’m going to have to find something else to do with my time, something more about me and less about her.  My apprehension is not just about Ali and her needs, it’s partly about me and my identity.  I gave up my career to be a mom and to stay at home with my kids and I got a lot more than I bargained for and now, it’s all changing again and I need to readjust.  I’m probably not going back to my career because I still want to be available for them but I do need to find new opportunities now.  There are so many possibilities and I have no idea where to start.

I remember when Ali first started at her special needs nursery school.  I was terrified and I think the teachers probably were too.  It was the first break that I’d had in two and a half years and I was convinced that we were the only people who could look after her.  It ended up being an amazing experience.  Ali created amazing bonds with the people there and I knew that she was safe.  I never doubted for a second that I could leave her with them and know that she’d be okay.  It was a great lesson for me and I need to remember it now.

As with any big transition, I feel like I need to micromanage.  I’m not a mom that deals well with uncertainty.  Although the school has done their part in informing me of how Ali’s day will go, I still have so many questions and it’s driving me nuts!  Short of following Ali around for the day, which I certainly won’t be doing, I’m not sure that I’ll ever be satisfied.  Last night I tried to engage my husband in a conversation about how the teachers would get Ali’s indoor shoes from the kindergarten to her afternoon language program and back again. Yep, uncertainty is not my strong point.  Aside from the important issues like the transfer of shoes from locker to locker, I also worry about Ali’s health and feeding concerns and feel really pressured to get them in order before school starts and another thing I don’t necessarily deal well with is deadlines.

Ali is an amazing, engaging and social little girl.  I have no doubt that she’ll make friends in kindergarten but I worry that the other children won’t be able to understand when she speaks and that they may eventually give up trying to talk to her.  She has trouble making her wants and needs known to strangers, I worry about her not getting what she needs simply because she can’t say it.  I think that would be incredibly isolating.  I also worry that she won’t be able to keep up physically and that she’ll get too tired and stop trying to interact.  It’s very comforting to know that she already has several wonderful little friends from previous years that she adores so hopefully, she sees lots of familiar faces and kids that she already has a bond with.  A big worry of mine is that I really believe that it’s easier to be different when everyone is young.  Right now, the kids are very excepting of Ali because she’s small and cute but what happens when she’s not anymore? What happens when some of the kids decide to be mean?  Madi came home from school in first grade crying one day because two little boys were making fun of Ali, who wasn’t even a student at the school, that broke my heart. I still think of it, especially when we’re going into this transition for Ali.

I’m not going to let my worries ruin this for Ali.  I’m going to trust the school to make the right choices, to keep her safe and happy and I’m going to drop her off on her first day with a smile on my face and tell her how proud I am of her and how far she’s come. Then, I’ll probably go sit in my car and cry, then peek in the school windows (just being honest here) and then I guess I’ll go find a job (anyone want to hire me? I’m very well educated!). She’s growing up and just between us, it’s harder than I thought it would be! ; )