Thursday, April 15, 2010

Take a blood pressure pill before you read this

Background Info for the story to help keep it short:

Went on a trip with my friend Andrea. We each have three kids. So that makes 6 kids to 2 adults. We were driving up through Texas and decided to make a fun stop in Dallas and spend the night and visit the Mall to let the kids play.

Okay, actual story:

This past Sunday Andrea and I loaded up our kids and left on a trip. We were pretty much a sideshow at every stop we made. 6 kids and one in a walker really makes quite an enjoyable show for on lookers. We all road in our first ever taxi ride to the Galleria Mall in Dallas Texas from the hotel we were staying in. (we heard they had an awesome play place...I was mistaken) Now if you havent been to the Galleria then you cant quite picture the ridiculous size of this mall. It's huge. So we load up the kids in stroller with Toby's walker hanging off the side and march ourselves to the 3rd floor play area. There were quite a few kids there (understatement) and we werent thrilled, but knew the kids were looking forward to this. I set Toby down in his walker and shockingly even with the noise he was good to go. This was a moment of triumph for us. All those kids and he wasnt scared or overwhelmed he just charged ahead. Andrea and I were blocking the exit (like any good parent would) and watched the babies climb around. We were commenting on how incredible Toby was doing. He had left his walker and was climbing on top of a big collection of plastic rocks (they were meant to be climbed on) I pushed his walker off a little but still right by the rocks and stayed close to Milo. I wanted Toby to have the security of it being near by. Within minutes Andrea walks over to me and says,...OKAY GET READY FOR THIS. "That man just took Toby's walker out of the play place." I was shocked. Another parent took it upon himself to pick up MY child's walker and remove it. Of course I did what any parent would do, I tossed my hips back and forth as I went over picked it back up and placed it right where it was. The sent a glare his direction. OKAY TAKE A DEEP BREATH.
Within minutes a security guard walks up to me. "Maam we are going to have to ask you to remove your child's walker." Are you kidding me??? Is this really happening in America?? In Dallas?? I argue, really. I didnt even yell. But he tells me I'm going to have to remove it. By this time a second security guard has now come up and tells me how he understand but i still have to remove it. By the time I am now tearing up, not crying, but for sure some tears. I am shocked, frustrated and feel totally overwhelmed. I remove his walker from the play area completely defeated. Feeling like I couldnt even defend my son's RIGHT to have his walker nearby him. I told them I wanted a number for a manager or something. That this was discrimination. Please tell me you agree?? The parents are sitting there, I mean close to 30 parents just sitting watching the whole thing. Watching me cry, watching me take the walker out and they just watch. I am humilated. Not one parent says anything to the guards. One dad walks up to me and lets me know how horrible it was, but still does nothing. We dont leave because Toby doesn't know what has happened and I dont want him to know. He stills climbing around happily. Minutes pass and finally the two security guards come back, walker in hand and set it down beside me and tell me it can NOW be in there but I have to stand guard it. I did as they asked, knowing that it still really wasnt made right. There was no apology, no, "we handle this wrong." All this drama because ONE Dad decided it was dangerous for my child's walker to be in the same place with his child!!! He lied and told the security guards that kids were falling and getting hurt on it. Not one child tripped or got hurt on it. One Dad and 2 security officers who obviously were not educated and had no understanding and/or compassion.
So the world's not perfect yet. People still dont understand, still arent fighting to protect our children's rights and things like this are still going on. Shocking isnt it?
Thanks for letting me share this with all of you

PS A friend reminded me to add this. My husband did make a phone call for me after the incident. The first manger or whoever he talked to was apologetic. The manager admited that they had survellience and NOT ONE CHILD was seen getting injured on the walker. My husband asked for one thing, for them to write an apology email to me. (yet to get one) After that phone call HE RECEIVED a phone call from someone from the mall, (not sure who he was, manger, or something) who had heard his first phone call and chewed my husband out. Was rude, unkind and tried to make my husband feel like an idiot for calling and complaining. The original guy then called back and reapologized!! Tell me this isnt just crazy!!


Holli (and Mark) said...

I'm speechless. I'm so saddened that this happened to you, and really just in general that it happened at all to anyone.

Cassie said...

That is completely ridiculous. That's like taking Toby's legs away from him. I can't believe that happened. I'm at a loss. I live about 45 minutes from that mall, I've only been there one time and I won't be going again. I'm sorry that happened.

Heather said...

That's insane! What a bunch of jerks!! I also live close to this mall and won't shop there again.

Racerjack said...

I think now that you have had time to assess the situation, you did and felt what anyone in your position would have done. There are always going to be people like this who either make things miserable for you or just uncomfortable in other situations.
A couple of suggestions come to mind you can do or not. If you think of what needs to be done now, I think a letter to the mall and after their response, then possibly to the local paper would be appropriate.
I would state it with the emotion of how it made you and others feel, controlled tone not angry, and state what you would like to see done in the future. Just because they are security doesn't mean they will handle the situations like we would want all the time. They may need some additional training you could suggest if they decide to follow up with any help for their guards, and how they can do it different in the future. Tell them you want to know what they are doing to make it better.
You have to make them know it is not a devise, it is his only way to get around. If the kids are falling on it or not, their parents can tell them to be careful. If Toby was there with it and they bumped it, would it be any different. No. You should be near in this case to help kids watch out also as they may not be aware of it, just like you would a stroller or any other things that is not usually in the area. But you have every right to have it there with you and him.

Most places will accommodate and make sure things can be better if they are aware of it. If they do, you can share that in a letter to the paper that you had a bad experience and they were willing to help make it better. And commend them for it.
If they choose not to help or change it, then you can state in your letter what you did, asked for, and how they refused to change it. A copy sent to them might be good also as once it goes to the paper, many people will start making some changes.
Either way it is an opportunity to make things better for someone who may in the future go to the mall or other place of business. Education helps those who are willing to learn and change. Unfortunately there will always be people like the gentlemen around who don't care about anyone else except themselves. We can only try to make fewer of them. By showing dignity, civility, and strength in these situations, you can usually win people over to your side. You don't have to let them walk over you, just stand up when you know you are in the right.
I would also talk with Toby about these situations as he gets older so he can learn how to handle them. He will need to know how to do it and have his successes and make his mistakes along the way. Advocating for himself is definitely the way to go to make him get along in this world.
Hope this helped. Keep your chin up. You did great and I hope you put this aside for awhile so you can enjoy the rest of your trip. Say a prayer for guidance, then you can formulate your thoughts on it and write your letters.
You are not alone, and you have many admirers cheering for you and your helping hand for their situations. God be with you.

Joanna and David said...

How upsetting and ignorant! I'm so sorry this happened and I don't doubt things like this happen way more than we wish they would. What blessing Toby didn't realize - and yes there will be times we will have to talk to our children (as ALL parents do...not just parents with children who have special needs) about situations that they may not initially understand how to cope with. My blood would have been boiling too so I completely back up your protest. Although I would have been full on crying! You did well to just have a few tears. So glad you weren't alone. But I know you felt alone as your child's advocate. Again - so sorry. And thank you for sharing - sharing is preparing - preparing others and yourself for future situations. You are to be commended for all you do for your family and other families - like mine. :) Thank you, and God bless.

Stephanie said...

I totally understand where you are coming from. To make a long story short, we went to Orlando over spring break, where Nathan was DENIED his first amusement park ride because, get this, he couldn't walk. Seriously. As my sister and I were waiting in line for the ride the guy who was running it actually came up to me and asked if he could walk. When I said no he told me Nate couldn't ride. He couldn't really give an explanation WHY even when I asked for clarification. He kept referring to the "signs" none of which mentioned anything about it. I took my complaint to Guest Services who brushed it off as a "sign issue" and told me they were in the process of getting a new one. Thank goodness Nate didn't know any better-how would I have explained that to him if he understood what was going on? "I'm sorry honey, that man said you can't go on this ride because you can't walk." Apparently kids and adults in wheelchairs can't go on rides either, depending on their abilities. I was really upset about it. By the way, this was at Bush Gardens. I'm sorry that happened, Kari. The best thing we can do is learn from it. There are a lot of ignorant people out there and we can use experiences like ours to educate them.

TXchick said...

Kari, you're so much better than me....I think they would have needed security for my sake. It's so interesting that another parent would look at the situation (of Toby's walker being there) and not think about just telling their own children to watch out so they don't fall on it...Looking out of the safety of one's child doesn't mean they have to put another in danger....

matt said...

You know, before we had Annabelle, I think I would have sat in stunned silence as an onlooker and not gotten involved. BUT NOW.

I feel like I would have planted myself between the guards and the walker and said "Try and take it - oh, and let me go ahead and dial the police for you."

There are an infinite number of unimaginable situations that crop up in life and it is so good to hear the stories of others so that we can prepare ourselves in the event of a similar circumstance.

Thanks for sharing.

Lexi Foster said...

Kari, Im so sorry you had to experince this! This made me cry people cant open there eyes and try to understand. I have had to go through experinces like this with my mom who has MS. I am so glad though Toby didnt have to experince what had happened.

Suzi said...

You are such an awesome mom because you stayed strong and did not leave. You were able to stay there with your son so he could play. I would like to believe that the other parents learned a lot from you even though they said nothing.

Hopefully, you will not have this experience again BUT unfortunately - as been my experience - you probably will encounter similar events.

I wonder what the workers at the mall would think about liabilty / and potential law suit if Toby had fallen and hurt himself because he did not have his walker!

Holly Linden said...

That is just heart breaking, and MADDENING. I would encourage a formal letter, to hopefully prevent future mistakes of this magnitude. I'm sorry you had to experience such ignorance and selfishness in this way. Know that you did your best, especially considering you were SHOCKED.

Stay strong Mama Bear. You are mighty!

Robert & Leigh Ann said...

Does the Americans with Disabilities Act cover Toby's right to reasonable access - if he is denied his walker, he is in essence being denied access. That would make what this mall did a federal crime. I don't know all the ins and outs, but would love to see them apologize and set in to place required training for all their employees on how to treat people with disabilities. As a parent, I am saddened that no other parent cared enough to stand up for you! With my big mouth, I am sure that I would have! Praying that God will continue to use you to encourage others!

Momma Reekie said...

I can't believe I am just reading this now.
I'm so appalled, so outraged and so totally saddened for you.
It seems our fellow humans have a lot of growing up to do.
I want to cry for you but also, B-smack somebody for you. A perfect world would allow me to do both.

Colleen said...

Oh wow, Kari. That is unbelievable. I really like the idea of writing a letter and cc'ing every manager/supervisor/owner you can think of. This whole situation sucks, but maybe it can be used for good if they learn from it.

Jeanine said...

Sad and angry for you that this happened! But I agree with Racerjack that a letter sent to the Mall, the papers, whomever else, would not only be appropriate, but very helpful in raising awareness. Think of all the parents who would read the letter, maybe the next time they see something like that happen they will stand up in support.

Terri said...

This is appalling and yes, it is covered under the ADA. Don't be too hard on the parents who didn't stand up for you--parents who don't have a child with a disability have NO IDEA about situations like this. They were stunned, they may do better next time.

I hope the people who live in Dallas who intend not to shop at this mall will call them and let them know of their decision. Further, there are Galleria Malls in many cities, it would be great if readers in those cities called them and asked what their accessibility policies are and (very importantly) said, "That's good--or too bad--because I heard that there was an incident in Dallas..." This lets the corporation know that more than a few terrified parents (and one advocate) are watching.

Nice job, Mom--and Dad for the follow-up calls!