The Bus Driver’s Comment That Made Me Rethink the Way I Treat My Daughter
“They can do a lot more than we give them credit for.”
This was the comment that my daughter’s bus driver made one day as I was helping my daughter get on the bus to school. It was a seemingly innocent comment, but it really made me think. Am I not giving my daughter enough credit for the things she can do, or am I expecting too much of her?
In case you’re curious, this was in regards to my daughter holding the hand railing when getting on the bus in the mornings. Initially, I had been pretty much lifting her into the school bus. After all, that first step is steep. It can be a doozy.
It was just the day before that comment that the bus driver lamented on trying to get all the children to hold the railing, if at all possible. It seemed like a reasonable request, given the circumstances. My daughter is fairly mobile. In fact, despite her autism diagnosis and developmental delays, her gross and fine motor skills were almost always on par with other children her age. This was one area of which she always excelled.
Of course, she handled this task perfectly. I moved her toy pig, her most beloved possession, to her other hand. I placed her hand on the railing, and sure enough, she used the railing exactly as intended. This isn’t to say that she didn’t need me behind her should she fall. This also isn’t to say that I don’t basically need to remind her every day to hold the railing. It’s only to say that the ability was there. If given the support, she was able to accomplish this task.
After her bus drove away, I contemplated the situation a little more. How often do I do this to my daughter? The honest answer is probably quite a bit. My response to her school bus driver’s comment, by the way, had been very simple and direct. I responded back that sometimes when they’re so little, you just want to protect them. Especially when they have special needs. I even hugged myself to demonstrate what I meant.
The world is a very unforgiving place for those who are different. My daughter has already experienced judgment from not only her own peers, but even adults. It’s a little sad to have to explain to another 3-year-old why your child doesn’t speak as well as them.
It’s somewhat disturbing when you see a 3- or 4-year-old giving your child a snotty look, or purposely avoiding her. The absolute worse is when it’s an adult doing these things.
I worry. I worry she won’t fit in. I worry she’ll be made fun of for not being a cookie-cutter version of every one else. I worry she’ll have no friends. I worry that she’ll have no one attend her birthday parties, just like the stories I keep reading over and over again in the news. Mostly, I just worry.
As all of these thoughts are racing through my mind, something finally hit me. Perhaps, as with the task of using the bus railing, I’m not giving my daughter enough credit. It’s possible she’s made of tougher stuff than I realize. Maybe she’s stronger than I’m able to understand.
I may not be able to protect her from everything, but I can be standing behind her should she fall. With proper support, it’s very possible that she could accomplish the very things that I worry so much about. If not, then I’ll still be standing behind her, or waiting nearby should she need me.
Can my daughter accomplish a lot more than I give her credit for? I don’t know. Maybe. I’m just going to have to take that first step, and let her try. I just need to watch that first step. I hear it can be a doozy.
The Mighty is asking its readers the following: Describe the moment someone changed the way you think about disability and/or illness. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio.
Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.
And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.