I just recently talked to two folks in Wisconsin, which is, in my view, the worst state to be a blind parent in. Why is this, you ask? Let’s take two total blind folks, a man and a woman, and put them in a family with kids. If woman divorces man so she can run about being a whore or slut, the man gets the blame. I’m sorry, but temptation is a bad thing when a man looks at another lady. A lady can look at another man, but let’s face this fact: blind orgs don’t see the following things about their constituents:
1. When a blind child is born, the first thing a parent does is freak out. The sighted parents … this includes all of them, they freak the heck out and say, “But my child can’t play football. My child can’t dance or do cheerleading.” Well, like I say in previous posts, football and cheerleading aren’t valuable in real world terms. Just because your blind son can’t throw a ball like a man doesn’t mean he’s less of a man. Just because your daughter who’s blind can’t dance like a ballerina doesn’t make her less of a beautiful and empowered young woman. The big thing that should be bugging you as the sighted parents who jusst gave birth to a child with blindness, deafness, or any disability should be, “But what about their desirability and ability to have a mate, get a job, and do other social things and be accepted by my community?” Here’s the problem.
2. Because the sighted or able bodied parent freaks out, the child loses. Why? Because the children lose the ability to be accepted. There are many accounts I could give about my mother having to stand around where I was, and nobody walked up to me. They assumed my mother was “in charge” of me. I wonder if other sighted parents reading this blog had the same experience. Blake’s mom or Jessie’s mom could give me the same results if they did the same thing depending on the community’s attitudes. But for the most part, parents always get the impression they’re in charge of our lives as blind and physically disabled people. It makes me sick to see a person with a disability thinking that sight means superiority. Sometimes it gets to us in another way as well.
3. It all starts when your children are little. How many times have you praised your little Joe or little Jane for using his or her eyesight? What about freaking out with Joe or Jane needed glasses? What about the worries about teenaged Jane’s dating life? How many times have you said to yourself, “She can’t see herself in the mirror. Therefore, she can’t see the way he looks at her, therefore her dating life is invalid?” This applies to parents of blind girls. What about little Joe Doh? I use the word Joe to apply to all boys in this case. How many times have parents of those little boys asked themselves, “But what will he do if the football team tackles him? What?” I’ll give a good example of several parents who accepted loss of eyesight as an asset. The Hughes family did this for their son Patrick. Kathy did this for her dearest son Blake. Though Patrick had secondary physical disabilities, he could still make a name for himself playing the piano. As for athletics, Blake totally excelled in the martial arts, which is totally good for the blind boy or girl. But to those others who haven’t really had a blind child, how many times do you praise your normal child for seeing? Take a look at the resulting next item.
4. When you have a partially sighted child, how many of you have praised them for using what little sight they have, and never thought about Braille as an alternative to Print? AS Blake and I both use Braille on a daily basis, there should be an alternative to print. Don’t give me that thing about talking speech computers and stuff, that doesn’t cut it. I want to say that Mrs. Babcock and Jessie Hernandez’s mom are both really good at spotting the needs of their kids. Both sons had Braille. My friend Art is also blind and a Braille user. I can name a few others as well, but the partial sighted ones are the ones who ultimately suffer. I say we need to praise the use of other senses and not the use of sight alone. Because look here, we don’t have time to see all the butterflies fluttering by.
5. When your adult blind child gets married or has a girlfriend, how many of you freaked out like, “How’s he going to have sex?” “How are the kids going to be safe?” “What’s he/she gonna do about school stuff?” Well, Blake doesn’t know, neither do I, but the big thing is we won’t let them outside without us around. Not unless the neighborhood is checked out and stuff. I know for a fact that kids should never run about the neighborhood without parenting supervisions. Blind or sighted, any blind person’s or sighted person’s children should be watched, and this is where the story begins.
The guy from Wisconsin says that the kids are being held in foster care. Ugh. Foster care is not the best environment for any child, and especially just because the parents are blind or one parent is disabled. The man’s ex, a wife who wants to blame him for all her actions, walked out on him and … five children at this. First off, blind people don’t realize what the reality behind the marriage issue is. You have five kids under ten to deal with, and those five children are yours, I told him. He explained the case, and with horror, I thought to myself, what if that happened to me and Blake when we have our first baby? What about Jessie and his future bride when they decide to have a baby? Parents, blind or any other disability, are so blissful without knowing the realities of their state and local Social Services. I will never allow a social worker in my hospital or birth suite without them being questioned by the dula or Blake himself. Such a concern should be felt by all blind couples or couples that include a disabled spouse. What if, by some weird happenstance, Jessie and his wife divorced?
This happens all too often with blind folks who are in custody cases. I’ll give a good example and a bad example of custody cases where the disability was or wasn’t considered. IF Jessie divorces a wife or the wife divorces him, which statistically happens in nonreligious marriages with no commitment, one of two things can happen: the kids could go live with the sighted woman or nondisabled woman in this case. Or they could have joint custody. Or the kid could live with the blind parent permanently as a third and viable option.
Here’s a good example: my friend Wes got divorced recently. He and the sighted wife agreed to joint custody. No big deal. Wes’s blindness did not come into the picture, and therefore there was no safety issue or CPS or whatever. Washington State seems to be a great place for blind individuals to have their kids an raise said children.
Here’s the worst example. My friend from Wisconsin, whose name I’m withholding for privacy purposes, divorces his sighted and able wife, who has a nationwide warrant on her. Nationwide is on your side!
Then, the CPS goes crazy and takes the kids, and disability is considred a “safety issue” for the man. Well, fathers are just as important as mothers in the family. Look at the way rats help each other in the parent group. Look at the way male rats treat females and children. Lab rats act a lot like humans, and I read a book that says clearly that “fathers matter.” In both cases, fatherhood was presented, but in Wes’s case, the father was allowed to parent his little daughter. Sadly, a lot of others are not allowed to parent their kids. All because they’re blind.
We honestly hope, that is Blake and I, that none of those things occur with us, but temptation follows all of us. Statistics show that a lot of blind women are not married and stay that way because a lot of men don’t like the idea of having a disabled wife. There are, however, a few lucky ones. My cohort Arielle and her husband Jason are a great example of this mix between disabled and nondisabled. So what if having sex is the important issue a parent considers. So what!
The big thing however bad is that parents shelter the kids too much, and the kids don’t have health education in schools. Schools for the blind don’t teach the proper care and feeding of the physical body, mind, and spirit. The schools just teach substandard marriage practices in what the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind calls, “marriage education.” What’s this!
How can we improve this state of being unmarriageable, unemployable, etc.? Well, it starts in the home, and it starts from infancy. Praise your blind child for using blindness skills. Don’t discourage the use of smell, taste, and hearing? Touch is also a big thing. You may reprimand your child for touching other kids’ bad parts, obviously. However touching is a good thing, and petting a dog is fine. You can groom someone’s hair if that’s the case. Praise your child for exploring his or her environment, and as elementary as it sounds, believe me. I wasn’t allowed to explore the whole picture. This could lead to damaging results if you can’t do this. The third and final step I’d recommend for all parents who are considering parenting a disabled kid or have given birth do such a child, never say no. NEver say no to the child’s desires to be a normal person. There are obvious signs to look for in the bullied child, and if bullying persists in school, pull him or her out. Either this or go to the principal or school board. IF this child wishes to be a parent someday, don’t be shy about it. Your adult disabled child will love you forever if you allow said person to go out and explore, make new friends, make a new flame, or eventually marry and move into a house of his or her own. I’m dying to get all those things done, but I’m being held back by SSI and the lack of a job.
Here’s a word for employers: don’t think that hiring the less qualified sighted person is going to get you anywhere. Blind persons are more loyal, and in my view, more willing to work. Society has told us we can’t. In my view, as Obama says often in campaign slogans, “Yes, we can.”