Thursday, May 24, 2007

The letter

I wrote her a letter. I wasn't going to because I couldn't decide if I was doing it to educate her or to make myself feel better. I spoke with Bennie, but I still wasn't sure what to do. Then I started thinking about so many of our friends; Ben and Bennie, DDM and Bugga, Christy and Elias, Natalie and M, Em and Willow, Summer and Anika and Kari and the Cat, and I thought about all the "helpful" comments they have and will have to endure, the looks, the judgments...and I decided if I could help it, I wanted one less person out there giving those comments. And I thought about KayTar and me, and decided I have to get used to standing up for us, because nobody else can. People will not know if I stay silent. And so I sent the letter.

Here it is:

Room Mother,

I don’t usually do this, but I felt I needed to explain something. When I was dropping BubTar off, you mentioned casually that I need to take KayTar off the bottle and it struck a nerve, for reasons you could not have known. KayTar has developmental delays, she is deaf in her left ear, and she has brain lesions, a migraine syndrome, communicates largely in sign language, and has a feeding disorder, which prevents her from drinking from a cup or straw. She is still on purees, so most of her nutrition comes from her bottle. Without it she would have a feeding tube. I know that no harm was meant by your remark, but I just wanted you to know a 2 year old with a bottle is not always a simple situation, even if it looks that way from the outside.

I’ve never done this before, but I’m going to have to get used to explaining our situation to other people, we have a long road ahead of us. I hope I didn’t upset or offend you, I know you didn’t mean anything by what you said and that you didn’t have any idea what was going on. I just needed to take the opportunity to explain our situation.

Sincerely,

Kyla


And I was so nervous sending it to school with BubTar yesterday, but when I drove away, I felt like this weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I knew I had done a good thing. I was still nervous about how it would be received, because I am about as non-confrontational as they come, but I knew it was right.

Yesterday afternoon, she called and apologized. She said she felt like she put her foot in her mouth before she even got the letter. She said her son was very tall at a young age and people used to give her "helpful" comments about her babying him, so even though it wasn't the same, she could understand why it was bothersome. It was a bit of an awkward conversation, but a good one.

It was a growing experience for me. I'm not one to handle things like this, but in the future I hope I will be more prepared to do so. That every time I practice it, it will get a little easier to speak up the next time. Speaking up is the only way to help people understand.

Thanks again for all the support. And Bennie, thanks for being my behind the scenes cheering squad.

Also, BubTar bit the Room Mom's son at school yesterday...do you think he secretly reads my blog? ;)

PS: We are going in for a sedated CT scan in just a few, and if you would think positive-getting-some-answers thoughts, we would be much obliged.

28 comments:

jo(e) said...

I am just catching up with your week now, and I have to say that I am really, really impressed with how you handled this. You stood up for your daughter, you were assertive, you helped educate someone, and yet, you did it tactfully and thoughtfully and and gracefully. I am old enough to be your mother, and I doubt I could have handled it half as well.

You are amazing!

Sending good thoughts your way for the CT scan ....

Becca said...

Go Kyla!

You did the right thing and the letter was written in a very nonconfrontational tone. Perfect!

bubandpie said...

That letter is just so gracious - it brought tears to my eyes.

Christine said...

Kyla, That was an incredibly strong, brave thing to do. I am so impressed. And the best part is that you didn't "yell" at her, but simply explained what was going on and your feelings. Good for you. I'll be thinking lots of good thought for you guys.

NotSoSage said...

Kyla, you're amazing. Good for you! I don't think you should HAVE to do it, but I think you made the right decision for you, in this circumstance.

I shouldn't be reading things that make me tear at work (notice I don't say I shouldn't be reading blogs at work), but I just can't help it.

Positive vibes galore coming your way.

Julie Pippert said...

First, okay I am so upset I missed that story. I have a thing or two to say. I am more upset at why: neither of my autoreaders (Technorati and Blogroll) are flagging you with fresh content.

Second, I'm so glad you opened up such a kind line of communication with her, and good for her too responding so kindly. Who knows, maybe a new friend. Or at least, someone who is more careful next time with the next parent.

I think usually it only takes once.

And her reply gives me hope. :)

Third, I know we all make thoughtless little comments. I have worked HARD especially since having kids to be very thoughtful (as in, thinking first speaking second). I still goof, sure. I sometimes miss the mark or don't know.

But my main rule *in general* wrt other parents is this: *I* don't know so I can't think things.

I find a lot of parents have this rule.

As a result, I don't worry so much abotu what others think.

Sure, there are still plenty of the "*you* don't know" judgmental commenters out there, but blech to them LOL.

You rock standing up for yourselves. I hope you feel how courageous and admirable that is.

Julie Pippert said...

P.S. Have I ever referred you over to Rob's blog, Schuyler's Monster?

It's linked on my site.

I've read Rob for ages and ages...by which I mean almost 10 years. He's a great writer.

Now his blog is about his daughter, Schuyler, and her life, and his life as dad, and all that.

Check it out, see if you like it.

Oh, The Joys said...

What a good letter! And isn't it amazing how much good open and direct communication can really do?! Why do we all resist it so much?

MotherBumper said...

I'm non-confrontational also so your response is much admired. You are one strong lady and your letter was well worded.

Thinking of you and sending positive vibes for the CT (actually, all the time).

~aj~ said...

I am so proud of you, Kyla! I know that it was a hard decision to make, but I definitely think you did the right thing. Your letter was perfect and I'm so glad you were able to not only explain KayTar's situation, but also have a weight lifted off your shoulders.

This was a great stepping stone to prepare you for other challenges in the future. I'm glad it had a happy ending.

Kristin said...

That was a very well thought out letter, I wouldn't have found it offensive at all and I'm glad you could open her (and others') eyes by saying that. I'm glad you spoke up...for everyone's sake. Especially yours.

I find it amusing that Bub bit her kid. I probably shouldn't but I do.

And prayers for KayTar's CT. How does she do with the sedation afterwards?

ewe are here said...

The tone of the letter was perfect -- good for you!

And I'm rooting for you to get some answers.

Oh, The Joys said...

Kyla -

Unrelated...

Did you say you were going to blogher? Can you e-mail me... I want to send you something about it, but can't find an e-mail address for you.

Best,
Jessica

nomotherearth said...

Good for you! Perfectly worded, in my opinion.

Mad Hatter said...

Sometimes I have to give my head a shake that you are as young as you are. You have so much maturity and grace and intelligence and courage--far more than I could've dreamed of in my mid-twenties. I am just getting caught up now and so haven't commented before on this situation, but, Kyla, I am so very impressed with how you handled this and with how gracious and open that letter is. I couldn't muster half as much grace and openness in the same circumstances. You really are a joy and an anchor to your family.

Ben & Bennie said...

I knew that if you didn't confront the situation it would east at you for a long while. And once again let me say how perfect your prose. I honestly could never have contained my anger without at least one (if not many) daggers which would've defeated the purpose.

Plus I'm tickled BubTar took a bite out of crime!

WarriorMom said...

I'm impressed, too.

Here are some positive vibes for the CT scan: +++++++!

natalie said...

Dearest Kyla,

You are a wise, wise woman. Your letter was simply perfect. You were kind to the offender and thoughtful. You didn't blabber on and on.

Friend, I wish I had half an ounce of your wisdom.

Praying for the CT scan.

Natalie

Summer said...

Hi Kyla,

We are still sick. So I just saw your post about the room mother's comment. I'm glad you wrote her. How brave!

When Anika was just over two years old we went to a book reading. Anika couldn't yet walk independently but very much wanted to. She would stand between my legs and I would touch her shoulders lightly for support. With her ataxia she would keep moving and swaying. It gave the appearance that I was holding her back but in fact if I took my hands off she would have fallen. The reader kept looking at us and saying how the kids could walk up and touch the books. Finally she said point blank to me, She can walk up here. I said, No, she can't. The reader looked annoyed. I realized she didn't know I literally meant "she cant'". She thought I was a control freak mom. Oh well, she didn't know.

I'm blown away by her sight reading. That's amazing. Our brag is Anika wore panties for 5 hours and stayed dry. She even told me once when she had to go! Woo hoo!

I hope the CT scan went well.

Beck said...

What a kind, well-written letter.
I had an unintended confrontation with one of the kids' speech therapists this week and I'm still feeling sick about it. Confrontation. Ick.

Em said...

Wow - good for you. I'm so impressed... and I'm glad it was all resolved so well...

cinnamon gurl said...

Great letter! And I think it elicited a really good response too. Evidence of just how well written your letter was.

Sending positive CT vibes...

slouching mom said...

That letter was fantastic. Perfect.

I'm so glad you had the opportunity to resolve this in a way that satisfied you.

And yes, I'll think good thoughts.

Vicky said...

I think you did exactly the right thing in writing a note to the lady, and the tone in it was just right. It is hard when people make off the cuff remarks and they really sting. Seeing as you are going to have to interact with the lady in the future and she's not just a random stranger then you did the right thing.Who knows, she may become a friend after this.

A couple of years ago we were in a museum in England and my son, who doesn't read or write English (we live in Japan, and he's behind in Japanese, too) was doing a museum quiz with me reading the questions and him looking for the answers which he then told me and I wrote down on the sheet. An old man standing nearby watched this with a sour face for a few minutes then very acidly said to my son, "So, we don't bother with reading and writing during the summer, do we??" Yoshi did not know what to say or why this old man was speaking to him with such venom, it was horrible. Luckily we'll never meet the old ```%%*** again....I did explain that this was my kid's second language but I didn't get an apology.

Your lady showed grace and courage by phoning you to apologise, so I do hope this will be the beginning of a good relationship for you both. (If Bubtar could just hold off from snacking on her son!!)

Kathy/Lessons from the Laundry said...

Wow, so proud of you for being Kaytar's mother in such a beautiful way. We model for our children and you are showing her that she may have to fight a bit in her life. Even if she doesn't get it yet.

As a mother of a handicapped child I totally understand the stares and comments. That is why I decided early on to tell people, even strangers, exactly what was up with Merritt. (Our daughter). Even though it was hard, especially in the beginning to say, "She has a metabolic disease" to everyone who stared us down, I think it saved me a lot of those unsolicited comments.

By the way, the letter was very well done!

Kathy

AmandaD said...

Over here for the first time from Running on Empty, hope this doesn't sound hokey. I am so proud of you for writing that letter, for taking the courageous step after hurt and anger, to make a change. You are an incredibly brave person and your sweet kids are the luckier for it. Glad I found you, I'll be walking taller trusting my own instinct more thanks to the model you set.

jen said...

oh, wow. see? you are so powerful, friend. your words, your journey, your example.

you are. and as bub said, with such grace. such grace.

DDM said...

I am so proud of you for sending that letter Kyla. SO. PROUD. You did a very good thing.