The other evening, I was out in the car with the kids and the baby on a food run and we came across the Teddy Bear ambulance, also known as CHEO’s neonatal transfer unit. I blinked and started to cough, which is what I do when I feel – pardon the word – triggered by my initiation into special needs parenting fourteen years ago.
I could never be a pediatrician or a nurse because I could not handle seeing the worst kinds of physical abuse that humans can inflict on babies and children. I’d be looking at a 25-year sentence after every shift wanting to avenge what I saw. I am aware I have that kind of anger in me.
It’s been a tough go on that front since news broke of the four savages who tortured a teenaged peer who has special needs over a 48-hour period. Yes, savages. I make no apologies for that, because it doesn’t matter what their skin colour is. Screw that shit. An asshole is an asshole is an asshole. And in this situation, there are four of them who are frankly damned lucky I am powerless to order their punishment.
In addition to proving that in 2017, humanity still has a long way to go when it comes to the acceptance and treatment of people with disabilities, this foursome has reinforced my conviction that I have to live forever, or as close to it as I can, to make sure my teenage son with a mild intellectual delay is safe from this kind of predation now and in adulthood. It’s just as well that he’ll never walk alone, because that’s exactly what’s going to happen under my watch. There will be supervision from this family. And a granny suite on the house, so he has a personal space but is still close to the people who have a genuine interest in caring for him and don’t see him as just another means to a monthly payout from the provincial government.
But at least I’ll be able to sleep at night, and so will he.