You know you have that one friend that you talk on the phone to every single day. If a day goes by and you don't talk you think something happened. Then they call at 9 at night to tell you they just had the longest day ever. I love those friendships.
My friend Amy and I chat most every day and usually a few times a day. We've been friends since 9th grade and been through many ups and downs.
Amy has three kids and one of her kids is special needs. Amy never lets me down with crazy stories during the day about her kids. She laughs with them , at them and fights on their behalf all the time. If you are mom of a child with special needs you will feel her pain. If you aren't, then let this story touch your heart and let it always remind you of how your words will effect people that you don't even know. Here is a story about a day she'll never forget in her own words ……
Hello everyone! This is Amy Gayhart……best friend of Mrs. Jamie Ivey. Jamie has asked me to lend a little story to this awesome blog of hers. Please keep in mind I am not a writer…….I can draw you a picture…….but I don’t write very well. So…..please bare with me.
The other day I was getting in a little “me” time while I had a babysitter. I stopped into my local nail salon for a much needed pedicure. OK ladies……you know the rules in the nail salon……some people are trying to relax…….so you don’t talk loud on your cell phones or anything really disruptive……am I right? So I was there minding my own business when these three ladies walked in. It was obvious they were out for a girl’s day. They were having a lot of fun. I will have to say that they were VERY loud…….but I’m letting that go. I am all for people having fun. So…..I’m sitting across from them trying not to be nosey…..but ladies we have to be aware of our surroundings……it’s a safety issue! Ha! But let’s admit it they were being so loud it was not hard for me to listen in on their conversation. All of a sudden these ladies started in on some very offensive conversation. There were lots of comments made about lots of different stuff. When my blood started boiling is when these ladies started making “short bus” jokes.
Some of you may or may not know that my 7 year old daughter, Mabry, is special needs. These women were talking about “slipping in their drool” on the “short bus” and they didn’t have their “helmets on.” Then they started making sounds that some people may consider talking “retarded”!!! You all know the voice they were using. Are you kidding me? I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. I was shocked. Then I started getting mad. When I get mad……I cry. So, I am sitting there getting a pedicure and tears just start rolling down my face. I couldn’t hold them in. The sweet lady doing my pedicure asked if I was ok…….I just quietly said that some of our kids HAVE to ride the “short bus.” She gave me the sweetest look that quietly just said “I’m sorry.” So I am sitting there trying to figure out how I was going to handle this situation. I know it is so cliché, but I seriously was trying to figure out how Jesus would handle the situation. Don’t get me wrong……I am VERY good at confrontation. There is nothing more I wanted to do then to call these ladies out in front of everyone. But, I decided that is not how Jesus would handle it. So……I was walking to the check out counter and I looked down and there was a stack of loose leaf notebook paper. So I picked up a sheet and proceeded to write these ladies a note. After all……it is not about me and the fact that I would have gotten a lot of satisfaction out of ripping these ladies a new one (by the way I use the word “ladies” loosely.) Here is the short but heart felt note I wrote.
There is a difference between having fun and being offensive. Your conversation was offensive on so many levels. Some of us have children who HAVE to ride the “short bus.” You really need to think about who you are sitting around before you open your mouth in public. You don’t know everyone’s situation. Today I am choosing not to be offended because I don’t want you to ruin my day. I think it is sad that you would even think that making fun of these children is even remotely funny. I wonder if you would have said the same things if my daughter was sitting right next to me. Try to have a nice day!
So……I handed the note to the manager and asked him to deliver this to the “lead” lady. Then……I quietly walked out. I don’t know what went down when I walked out of the salon. I hope that for just a moment these ladies thought about their actions. Have you guys ever been in a situation like this? How would you have handled it? I don’t understand why some people think that jokes about special needs people are acceptable. When did this become ok? I surely didn’t get the memo and I just don’t think it is right.
Thank you for sharing this! My sister is severely mentally disabled and words like retarded, short bus, etc. make me see red. I love how calmly you handled this situation because that is probably not how it would have gone down in my world, nor would I have portrayed Christ quite as well as you did.
Your story brought tears to my eyes, and now down my cheeks, because not only is my 27 year old sister so disabled that she will never be able to stand up for herself, so I hope there are more people in the world like you that would stand up for her, but I teach children with special needs and they need people to stand up for them too.
So glad you shared this on Jamie’s blog! You should a lot like my mom.
Dear Ms Guest Blogger Amy,
That. Was. Powerful.
Even though I am single/kidless I can’t help but be in awe of this. Crazy good stuff. Too many people today, even those claiming to be Christian, would have handled it differently. They would have stormed up and made a scene, thinking just because the other person was wrong, that makes how they’re handling it right. You took a hard thing and owned it with total class. Your kids are blessed to have such an awesome mommy willing to do ANYthing to stand up for them.
You are hereby added to my list of “super cool ladies I don’t know in real life but want to be like” (along with Jamie and Maris =})
SOUND a lot like my mom, no should ; )
When I was in high school, I became close friends with a guy who had the sweetest younger brother who was special needs. What was awesome was that, in our group of friends, some of which had some serious “popularity”, we’d call out guys who’d make remarks like the ones above. It was great.
Though I’m not as confrontational as I once have been, that mentality still stays with me. Anytime someone makes some sort of remarks about special needs children, it immediately makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable and upset because I’ll think about Stephen.
I think that the solution to problems like this is to lovingly tell someone (so essentially what you did) that those comments are 1. not funny and 2. hit really close to home.
What’s so sad is that these attitudes are perpetuated by a moronic culture that exists off of making light of something that is, in reality, very heavy (another example being the fascination with “pimps and hoes” in the mass media). Yet, in order to overcome these warped senses of humor, we must not simply be politically correct, but rather, lovingly remind our neighbor that “kids on the short bus” are still people and have mothers who love them dearly.
Grace to you, friend.
Thank you. Nicely handled.
Some times I feel like I get to hear something every day. People speak without thinking. “Shouldn’t she be walking by now?” “Oh, is your mommy spoiling you by having you sit in the stroller?”, Or they look the other way (nice), or starre (great). Just the tother day at the zoo a mom “rescued” her kid from mine. Well done.
wow, how heartbreaking. hearing this story brought tears to my eyes too. thank you so much for sharing this amy! you are an inspiration and i think you totally did the right thing. hopefully you helped to open those “ladies” eyes. good grief.
love you amy gayhart! (enough said)
My son is autistic. I feel your pain. I honestly believe if these people got to know even one special needs child, it would change them at their core.
You handled yourself beautifully. Score one for “us”…Zero for people who don’t realize what a bunch of jerks they are being. 😉
Nicely done, Amy. I know you and how much restraint it took not to “blow up.” Speaking your truth with compassion is absolutely what Jesus would do. I’m proud that you made the effort to communicate your feelings with grace and to raise their consciousness level about special kids with special needs (that would be all kids, of course, but some are just more observable). Perhaps one of the highest purposes of having people with differences around us is to give us cause to rise to a new level of understanding, acceptance, love, and gratitude…whether those differences be physical, mental, emotional, racial, religious, etc. We fear what we do not understand. Those women now understand a bit more, thanks to you and your courage to speak your truth.
Your choice to forgive them for their ignorance and not allow their insensitivity to ruin your day was also the right one. Blessings to you and all you moms who read this – it is the most challenging and rewarding of roles on earth. I truly believe that angels walk and breathe among us – you and your children are angels here to make the world a better place for all.
I love you, Aunt Bev
You have no idea how much I needed this today.
My sister is 18. She has cerebral palsy. And in my opinion, she is the smartest girl in the world. I may be a little bias:)
A lot of days I feel like I am the only one who feels like this. Who cries when I hear people call their friends retarded or even my friends palsy-ing their hand up making a joke…they don’t even realize what they are doing. So many times confrontations have been made and I end up looking silly and crying. Knowing that another family goes through this. It is such a relief on a day like this.
I am still at home. In college. And Jamie (my sister) is a HUGE reason why I am still here. She needs her sissy and most of all….I need her more.
JAmie, thank you so much for sharing your friend Amy with us.
God knows when we need it:)
i have a child with special needs. she will ride the short bus in another year. and i hope i handle it as gracefully as you have handled these women.
My husband and I took our daughter to Olive Garden for her 7th birthday. A couple at the table across from us was obviously on their first date. The guy liked to talk…a lot…and loudly. I felt sorry for the girl; he was very boring and she looked like she wasn’t having fun. Halfway through their date, I heard the guy going on and on about “black people”: “You know how they are…” blah blah blah.
I was so offended and angry that such racist people really do exist. So, at the end of our dinner, I walked over to their table, with my black daughter’s hand in mine, and introduced the guy to my daughter. Then I told him, politely yet directly, that “These are real people with real feelings.” After adding a bit to that point, I calmly and nicely said, “Well, have a nice day…Oh, and good luck on your date!”
The guy looked like a deer in headlights the whole time. I was proud of myself for standing up for what is right. It was one of those things that I knew would be wrong for me to do nothing about.
Thankfully, my daughter never had a clue what was going on.
That guy might still be racist, but I betcha he thinks next time he tries to tell racist jokes and such.
Good job, Amy. More people need to stand up for what is right and hold humanity accountable.
Thank you Amy for sharing. Although sad, it was also a courageous story. The way you handled the situation was great and I’m not sure how I would have reacted but I’m sure it would’ve been a bit more vocal.
With a sister (also who is my best friend) w/ special needs, and a husband, mother and another sister that teach special ed – I can’t imagine that anyone who’s ever been around these children could possibly talk negatively about them. I would hope in my heart that these “ladies” are just naive, and I pray that your letter will help them search themselves deeper and hopefully change their opinions.
I worked as an inclusion facilitator for a few years. One of the students had physical disability that required her to ride a bus equipped for a wheelchair aka the short bus. As a part of the inclusion plan it was decided that on school field trips a handful of other students would be selected to ride the wheel chair bus with her to prevent her from being socially isolated from her peers. Riding C’s bus became a treat and privilege among her classmates so much that other parents would ask why their child had not been selected to spend time with C and ride her bus.
Oh, you might find this piece I wrote “A Letter from the Class Dummy Interesting”. It is based on my personal experiences in school.
That was a powerful story. I think what I was so touched by was how you creatively handled it. That speaks to so many scenarios in our life. There are ways to handle things with love and I think you did it well. Thanks for sharing your heart with us.
Thanks for sharing your sweet heart! I don’t know you from Adam and I really don’t know Jaime either, but I just want you to know that I am so proud of you for not losing your cool and chewing the women up one side and down the other. I doubt my own ability to handle a situation like that with grace and love. Thanks for encouraging me.
I totally agree with one of the comments above – when people meet anyone with a disability, it usually rocks their core (which I love!) I have a cousin who has Down syndrome and she is quite possibly one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life. (And I don’t think I’m biased!) She radiates love and embodies a wonderful childlike faith. I would be honored for my children to know and grow up with other children with disabilities. I grew up thinking my cousin was ‘normal’ (I even hate that term, because what’s normal anyway!?) and it’s times like these when I realize I am LUCKY to have her in my family.
People making fun of people with disabilities is such a sad, but realistic, picture of this dark world. Usually these folks have never had any interaction with anyone with a disability, therefore I’d like to blame their ridiculousness on ignorance and being scared of anything different. But unfortunately for those ignorant individuals, they won’t be the ones changing the world or living for a bigger cause. They will be the sad ones who always feel like they have something missing in life (little do they know they’re probably missing Jesus.) They don’t even know how much they are missing out!!
I’ll pray for those women to encounter someone as wonderful as your daughter and my dear cousin. And I would challenge all of us to pray for people who are scared of anything different – people of different races, cultures, abilities.
Also, Amy, I know your daughter is young, but when she gets older, you should check out Capernaum YoungLife: http://www.younglife.org/Capernaum/ – this ministry has AMAZING folks who will love your daughter so well. It just started up in Austin less than two years ago and it’s impacting lives in a HUGE way! Thanks for sharing.
Hey Amy! Just want to cheer you on in how you handled the situation. You were courageous and spoke your heart. Always remember that Jesus got angry over things that broke his heart, too. Turning over tables in the temple was no quiet demonstration. Mark even tells us that it was premeditated! Jesus saw what was going on and came back the next day in response! That reminds me that what Jesus would do is not reactionary or rash, but thought out; it’s not belligerent, but strong. Jesus was boldly honest when he called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs”. Sometimes asking the question, “what would Jesus do?” can require much more of us than we initially assume because it can call us into fully engaging the depth of emotion that was sparked. We don’t want to allow others to affect us so deeply… but they do. We don’t want someone to have the power to ruin our day… but they can. And it can hurt. Our hearts are tender and yet fierce. When we stand up for what is right in truth AND love and on behalf of others, I firmly believe we are bathed in the grace of the One who loves us immeasurably and He is more than able to multiply our efforts and cover our mistakes. And, you know, if someone gets offended in the light of truth and love, it just might be a good thing.
Thanks for sharing this. I read it yesterday morning, but kept thinking about it, so I had to come back and leave a comment. It made me sad to think of you taking much deserved you-time, only to have it ruined by some good ‘ol fashioned cruelty. Thanks for being an example of how to handle a situation with grace, while not being a doormat. I hope to follow your lead the next time I’m confronted with a similar scenario.