My last post on this topic got a lot of traction on Facebook. The comments seemed to fit one of two categories. My blind friends said things like”way to go,” good for asserting yourself to the teacher, or things like keep fighting to prove yourself. My sighted friends on the other hand all provided reassuring comments like this kind of thing happens all the time because so many parents always sign up, or they shared how they too didn’t get chosen for a field trip before so I shouldn’t take it personally—in other words, this isn’t a blindness thing. These latter comments surprised me a little. I guess I got so hung up on worrying about my blindness being an issue that maybe I made it one without even realizing it. Maybe I was just being treated like I was “normal” after all?
K’s teacher did reply to my last email where I tried to address any concerns with chaperoning. Surprisingly, she never even expressed a concern about my blindness or abilities and informed me that K in fact was not one of the first ones to return her slip last time contrary to what K told me, and that this is the reason why I had not been selected last time. (Whether or not this is true, I still will never know and I guess it is possible that K didn’t give me the form the very day that she received it (I don’t personally check her folder daily; sometimes I just make sure she gets her homework done and ask her if she has anything for me). K also may have neglected to turn it back in the next day even though she had it in her folder. We’ll never know. I’m also a little worried that K said something to her teacher about me being disappointed for not being selected as I never said anything of that nature to her teacher in my email. Yikes! In any case, K’s teacher did remind me that chaperones are selected on a “first come, first serve” basis (which I totally understand and think is fair), and that she has made it very clear to her class that she will be selecting parents who haven’t had a turn yet to come on a field trip. She did say that K did turn her form in first this time and since I have not gone on a field trip yet, I would be selected for this one.
So now, I’m excited about this but feeling a little sheepish and like maybe I made something out of nothing. I feel like as a blind person, I have to try so hard to be “normal” and prove myself that maybe that in trying to “nip anything in the bud”, I may have been a little defensive when maybe this time, I was just being treated like anyone else…”normal”.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this over the last week. I don’t want to come across as being defensive or “rebelliously independent” because of my blindness all the time. But my knee-jerk reaction given past experiences makes me respond otherwise. I feel like the moment I put a cane in my hand, my IQ somehow dropped 20 points in the eyes of Joe Public. I’ve been turned down for jobs and told outright it was because I was blind. I’ve had someone accuse me of suffocating my child while wearing her in a front carrying pack because I held a cane in my hand. I’ve had people jump up on the train several times and remind me not to sit down on the small child on my back—as if I could forget I was carrying that extra 20 lbs. And I am constantly having to explain “where I’m going” to random well-meaning passersby who see me walking down the side walk and think I surely must be lost. Frankly, it gets a little exhausting. So Howe
Do I learn to recognize when to advocate and when do I sit back and realize that I’m just being treated normal?
I still don’t think it hurt to send the email to K’s teacher. It’s probably still a safe assumption that she may have at least had some questions if not doubts too about my abilities—let’s be honest, I would too if I were in her shoes and not the blind one. But I will say, in this situation, it is refreshing that she didn’t seem to outright question my capability. I’ll probably still get defensive about my blindness in the future, and I know I’ll still have to prove myself on a regular basis, but this whole experience has been a good learning experience for me. IN the future, maybe I’ll take a deep breath and pause to look at all the angles first before acting on my knee-jerk response. So, long story short, I am going on the field trip next month. K is ecstatic! Now let’s hope I don’t blow it on the field trip!