When the taxi van pulled up today to drop my son off after school, you shouted at me and the taxi driver from across the other side of the road, that he wasn’t allowed to stop there. You made your scowly face, and you swiped your hand at us irritatedly, and you did your best to make sure everyone saw your outrage. Even though the only other people present were the couple of students in bright vests doing the crossing guard with you.
If you had calmly approached me to discuss the matter, that would have been OK, and I would have politely explained the situation; that my son has special needs, and there are frequently other special needs children in the van. That the taxi driver can’t fit the van in our drive-way or bring my son to the door since he must stay with the vehicle the whole time. That my son is a danger to himself and so can’t just be let out to find his own way to the front door. That the “honk” the driver sounds to let us know he’s arrived, is often lost in the other road and neighbourhood noise, so the best he can do is briefly pull up outside our house in visual range – the far side of the crossing, a safe distance away from any crossers – so I can go get my son from the van.
But no. You shouted. So, I shouted back (granting you the same respect), that my son has special needs and we wouldn’t be long.
But that didn’t make you happy, you continued the shouting match, painting us some dastardly villains in your tidy mainstream world, where children can walk home and van drivers don’t have to stay with their vehicles at all times.
I could see your persisting outrage, which fed my own irritation, so I asked in the continued shouting match, whether you would like me to come talk to you about it. You said yes. You didn’t offer to come to me, even though the crossing was no longer in use. You made me, my autistic child in one hand, his car seat in the other, and his bag on my back, cross the road to come to you.
So you could lecture me. Not so you could hear my explanation, or reason with me. But so you could lecture me about how we were endangering children. The children who weren’t even there because it was long enough after school that the only ones left were your crossing guards. You didn’t let me speak, you just spoke over me, so my anger grew to the point that you actually had me shaking. That you wouldn’t listen, that his disabilities meant nothing to you, that your concerns about children who weren’t there to even be in danger, were more important to you than my actual special needs child standing right there in front of you.
Strictly, legally speaking, you are probably in the right. But in terms of manners, decency, respect and compassion, and the morality that shapes the application of the law, you are dead wrong. You threw your weight around like a bully, shouting instead of talking to us with calm respect, and you brought out the worst in me in return. I hope I made your day you little control freak. You threatened to get the police involved, to come and tell us off for our yellow-line disability-van infringement. Police would have shown better judgment than you in this situation. Well behaved children would have shown better judgment than you in this situation.
Teachers like you – who don’t understand the challenges related to having a disabled child and don’t care to understand – are one of the reasons I’m glad I chose to send my son to a school which does understand and care. Where people listen before they lecture, and explain rather than order others around, by virtue of their brightly-coloured school-issue vest. I can only hope you treat your students with more respect than you treat a fellow adult, but somehow I doubt it.
(And yes, I feel better having written this. You pompous *%$$#.)