Monday, April 1, 2013

A Good (?) Deed Done Not So Well

All right....I'm a little off point today, but.... 
Seeing today's images of President Obama hugging and consoling a tearful, young boy at the White House Easter Egg Roll brought back memories of my own upsetting Easter Egg event years ago when my twin sons were almost 5 years old.  Both are blind and at that time were students at Overbrook School for the Blind.  Shortly before Easter, one of the popular, local radio stations contacted Overbrook, asking that parents be informed that the station would be organizing an Easter Egg Hunt at the Philadelphia Zoo, and that it was specifically for blind children.  We were told that plastic eggs would be 'hidden' in the designated lawn area.  Along with treats, there would be some kind of sound emitting device inside each egg so that the kids could use their hearing to locate the little prizes.  I thought this sounded wonderful, and was very moved that the station chose to host an event for a group of kids who were often excluded from so many of the typical events that sighted kids could enjoy.

The day of the Egg Hunt was beautiful, so we headed out to the Zoo for what we expected would be a fun and heartwarming event.  Oh, if only reality could be as wonderful as hopeful expectations.  Arriving at the Zoo, we heard the event before we found it.  The station had its promotional van parked on the lawn and loud music was blasting out of huge speakers.  That was the first suggestion that things were not going to go well.  The level of noise made it difficult for my mobile son to use his hearing as a navigational guide, and it just scared the bejesus out of my other son who is in a wheelchair.  I thought, "All right....Egg Hunt and we're out of here."
It became painfully clear that there must have been a radio station meeting where someone said, "Hey, let's do something nice for blind kids!" and then put no thoughtful consideration into the planning of the event.  Looking around I realized that there was no physically designated area for this Egg Hunt and knew this was going to be a problem in what was essentially a very open, public space.  The eggs were scattered, and it immediately became a free-for-all.....for other kids who happened to be walking by, not for the blind kids.  Some of the blind kids were knocked down by interloper kids who were running like sighted kids will run when they sense that free candy can be had.  Also.....those loud, blasting speakers?  Yeah....they kind of made it IMPOSSIBLE to hear the puny sound emitting devices.  
Way to go, radio station.

I had quickly scooped up my one son and was thankful that my other son's wheelchair was an effective safety barrier.  We exited the event as one of the Overbrook mothers was yelling, actually...screaming at the radio station people.  I recognized that this was a lesson that I needed to help my son understand....that life was going to be filled with many, many moments of disappointments.   Some would be minor, like this Egg Hunt, but others would almost certainly be profound and at least momentarily, crushing.  We choose to always move forward, learning what we can from the disappointments, but an occasional hug of encouragement from the Commander-in-Chief would sure be nice.

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