I hate when I put people in a box.
Your looks, what you drive, where you work…… I look at all of these things and I put you in some box. A box that I have determined based on host of different life experiences.
I don’t like that I do this, but worse, I hate when someone does it to me. Recently I wrote a blog, We Waived the Waiver and We’re OK (http://wp.me/p1bhid-hP), and boy did I get put in a box. I was placed in the “she’s rich, lives in a rich community, so everything is easy” box. Wow – I didn’t like it.
It doesn’t matter that I drive a Toyota Sienna with 90,000 miles on it and a missing hubcap or that I’m sure there is an entire ecosystem in my very old carpet – I’m in that “rich” box. And because of this, people think they can treat me a certain way and it’s OK.
Which of course got me thinking about disabilities and how often we do this to the disabled. If they have autism, they will act like this and do this and they will never be able to bond with you. Down syndrome has its own box too. We are told they can’t learn, will always live at home and are loving. It goes on and on for every form of disability out there and causes great angst to new parents.
Unfortunately, boxes have borders, so whatever box we choose to place someone in also also determines how we will treat them and what we expect from them. For example, all kids with disabilities need special education, they are fragile, college is out of the question and marriage is not an option. Our boxes limit their options and this is what drives me crazy!
Most parents of children with disabilities know this isn’t true, but unfortunately the rest of the world hasn’t caught on, which makes it a little tough for our loved ones to blend in with the rest of society. I am floored when my friends still ask me if my daughter is in a regular school. I think to myself, “your kidding, right?” They’re not.
We all run around with little boxes in our heads, placing all kinds of people in them and limiting whoever we empose them on. The boxes for our special kids are just a little more obvious, intrusive and limiting.
Schools are notorious for putting kids in boxes and often this can hurt our kids the most. But the damage is not limited to special education students. For example, in my community, every student is college bound. This may look good on paper, but college is not for everyone and we have probably limited a great deal of life satisfaction in students that would do better in a technical field. Nope – you are in the rich suburbanite box – off to college you go.
The older I get, the more I am aware of this kind of thinking and the damage it does to those we use it on. I hope some day we will let people just be who they are, let them do what they love to do, and close all those boxes we have floating around in our minds for good. Wishful thinking, yes?
Are you unfairly putting people in a box? Can you change the way you think?