Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Starring Momma Bear

About 4-6 weeks ago I joined the local YMCA. I resisted for a while, because I already have a lifetime membership to a local gym, but I finally gave it. Why? Well, my lifetime membership is to a gym that promised to offer childcare when I joined and they have never gotten around to it. The YMCA has a Kid Zone that after careful consideration, seemed like it would be ok for Lil Bug.

Lil Bug and I have been going about 3-4 times a week, but last week Lil Bug was resistant. Usually she loves to go to group activities. She loves MOPS. She loves Sunday School. She loves being around other kids. So, for her to argue about going to the gym concerned me. Then I got to thinking. The last few times we went to the gym, I would pick her up and she was happy and playing. She never seemed hurt, upset or anything. When we got in the car I would ask her to tell me what she did and she would tell me a few activities, and somewhere during the conversation she would say something like, "The boy took my walker." She would touch on it very quickly and move on. I always followed up with, "Did you get it back? Did the workers help you?" By then, she was off to something else.

I hated hearing what she had to say. As her mom, it stings. I want to protect her from everything. The reality of it is, I can protect her from very little and that gets less and less the older she gets.

So, this morning I ask Lil Bug if she wants to go to the gym. She tells me no, but I insist that we go because we are paying a lot of money for a membership that we are not using and because I want to move her past this resistance. So, we pack up, head to the gym and go in. The whole way in she was arguing about going, but when we go there, she seemed ok.

As I have to do every time I bring her there, I remind them that they have to remove all magnetic items from the area. Lil bug absolutely can not be exposed to magnets. If she holds them or if a strong one gets too close to her head, it can change the setting on her shunt, which in the worst scenario, could result in brain surgery. Magnets are NO GOOD. The gym is getting good at remembering to remove the items when we get there (although secretly I wish they would remove the train set permanently, to be honest). I also tell them I don't want her to go outside. That makes me feel bad, because there is really no reason why she can't go outside except for the fact that I don't think they would watch her or help her enough and that makes me too nervous. So, I sign in, tell them all the limitations and leave. Lil Bug seemed fine at the moment.

I was down the hall and around the corner and I heard a familiar screaming. I waited, to see if it would go away, but it didn't. I went back to see if it was Lil Bug and was told no. I asked them to open the 1/2 door and let me in to check for myself and sure enough, it was Lil Bug standing in the middle of the room screaming with about 8-10 children all standing around her pushing, shoving, and pulling on her walker. She was angry, overwhelmed and felt ganged up on. And the adults...guess where they were...just standing there watching. Yup, doing a whole lot of nothing much! I was furious!!!

I quickly got around the corner to her and grabbed her up and tried to ward off the children who were curious to see her walker. The kids were telling me it was THEIR walker and they could play with it if they wanted to. I tried to educate them that Lil bug NEEDS this walker and without it, she can't walk, but, of course, they didn't get it. This would be the point in time that I became unglued. As I am trying to "educate" the children and calm down my daughter, the workers continued to stand there with a sad look on their faces as if they felt pity for my daughter! DO. NOT. FEEL. PITY. Rather than feeling pity, do something you idiots! GRRRRRR!!!!!

So, after a couple of minutes of calming down Lil Bug, she seems convinced that staying and playing playdoh would be fun, so I put her back down into her walker and guess what happened? Just guess...the kids came swarming back and she started screaming again and between sobs she is trying to tell them, "That is MY walker. Please don't touch." I could handle no more so I grabbed up my child, fought off a little girl for her walker and left. As I walked out, I told the lady at the front desk that they need to do something about their workers and that EVERY child should feel safe while there. She tried to talk to me, but between a screaming child and my extremely bad attitude, I didn't hang around for a discussion.

We drove home and as we did, Lil Bug got calmer, which meant that I got calmer. After the 15 min drive home, I was able to speak without yelling, so I called the gym to speak to the director only to learn that she just had a baby and was out on maternity leave. Ok, let me speak to the person covering for her?!?! So, they transfer me back to the Kid Zone and I get the same lady that was trying to speak to me on the way out. I calmly explained that I am paying $90/month for a service and regardless of my daughters physical disabilities, she deserves to be there just as much as any other child and she deserves to be protected, just like any other child. She said she understood and felt bad things happened that way. I said it is unacceptable and changes need to be made. First she tried to tell me that kids are curious. I acknowledged they are, but asked her to explain why the workers weren't doing their job. The discussion continued and I think she understands the importance of the situation.

As it stands, I am waiting for a return call from the asst director. I have requested that I be invited to attend their next staff meeting so I could educate the staff on her special needs. Will they let me come? I hope so, but I will let you know if the director ever calls me back. If I don't hear back? Well then, the momma bear roars they saw earlier today will be NOTHING compared to what they will see next time! :)


Going Back to Square One said...

Oh my...I am ANGRY with you! Have I ever told you I have a niece with CP? She was born at 24 weeks and as a result also has a shunt (all 4 lobes) is tube fed and a quad. Lil' Bug and Kyla have a lot in common...even though Lil' Bug can dance circles around her.

Anyway, if something like that happened with my niece, I think my SIL would snap a neck or two. That was completely uncalled for and totally disgusting. The workers should be fired for their insensitivity. I can't believe the distress they allowed the children to create! Just awful! No wonder LB didn't want to go back! Poor sweetheart!

Keep us updated on this one. I'd really like to hear that you opened a can on them, but alas, you're far to sweet for that.

Sherri said...

That makes me so mad!! I can't believe the workers just sat there while your little sweetheart us picked on! How could you just sit there and watch ANY child cry like that? Please keep us updated!!

BTW, on a happier note, I like your new blog look :)

BlessedWithDaughters said...

Angie, I was practically in tears as I imagined how scared and sad she (and you) must have felt, surrounded by kids and adults who weren't helping her.

And let me tell you the thing that makes me the MOST FURIOUS...that when you first went to the door and asked if it was Bug, they told you, "NO"?????????? Please tell me that they just didn't know which kid was yours (could they be that idiotic?) rather than that they LIED to your face as your baby screamed in terror and frustration!!!

I can't even tell you...my blood pressure is through the roof right now...

How is Lil Bug now that it's all said and done for the day? Recovered? Is her smile returning? Praying for sweet dreams for her tonight...


Erin said...

How awful!

Is the new Y?

If it is, and you have trouble getting someone to truly talk to you about the situation, let me know. I have a connection that might be able to get you to a person with REAL clout.

Angie said...

Jen: I didn't know about your niece. So, you have an idea about what life is like with a special needs person around. And, I know you don't know me very well, but let me assure you that when it comes to my daughter, I am not always so sweet! I do what needs to be done, just ask those that are closest to me!

Sherri: Thanks for the note on my blog change. I like to change things periodically as I get bored easy.

Mindy: I would have cried too, had I not been so angry with this whole situation. Actually, 12 hours later I am still burning over this. I don't know why they told me it wasn't Lil Bug crying. I do believe there are major issues that need to be addressed and they definitely will be addressed because I am NOT going to stop going based on the fact that they are lazy and don't want to put forth a little extra work. It is a public establishment and they need to provide the same safe environment for ALL children. Even those that require a little bit of extra attention.

Erin: We are going to the new Y in Belmont. Is that the one you were referring to, or were you talkng the downtown one? I didn't get a call (as promised) from someone today, so if I don't hear from anyone tomorrow, the walls will be coming down over there as I find the appropriate person to address my concerns, not ignore me!

Thanks ladies for all of your supportive comments. I am learning as I go, what this life will be for Lil Bug and our entire family. Most days are wonderful, but on occassion there is a day like today and it breaks my heart. Tomorrow will be a better day. :)

anita said...

You go Mamma Bear!

Jenna said...

I hope they invite you back. I'm appalled by the workers lack of... ANYTHING. Disgusting.

Go Mamma bear. :)

mommyof2boys said...

Oh my I can't imagine what you and Lil' Bug felt like. That is so not cool the way they handled the situation - I would be so mad.

Glad that you aren't just giving up and you are out there trying to education them. That says a lot about you.

LeeJo said...

Oh, honey. It's so hard. My heart sinks, Bert goes through these types of things, Ben will, and Hannah tries to help, and feels as badly as I do. You have this beautiful child that you adore beyond words, and other children can't get past an obvious external difference to see how much alike they are and really get to know her. It hurts to the pit of your being.

Going Back to Square One said...

Oh yes, Mamma Bear, I understand SO MUCH of what you go through on a daily basis. For the longest time I was terrified to keep my niece by myself because I was terrified something would happen; but then I saw how badly my brother and SIL needed the occasional breaks, so I swallowed my fear and learned to care for her.

My niece is a delight. No, she can't talk or walk. But she knows my voice and can raise her arms to me. When I read this, I was LIVID. I pictured my niece being swarmed by kids with two idiots just watching and letting her scream. And I wanted to do some very bad things.

Bug's walker, like Kyla's wheelchair, are extensions of their bodies. Without them, their ability to move is compromised. I could feel the Bug's terror at having it taken away.

Oh...please squishy hug her for me. That must have been just awful.