(I’m tired, sleep-deprived and a bit emotional but I feel compelled to get this out so apologies for the inevitable rambling and incoherence.)
How time flies. I just realised it’s been over a year since the debacle at OGM that saw an anonymous member of the public petition to have my Down Syndrome baby, Noah, removed from the market. **
The OGM employee who gave me the heads-up about the petition said at the time it was a “duty of care” matter. In other words, this person meant well and they thought I was a bad mother.
I wrote about it at the time – http://jackiem.com.au/2015/07/17/why-im-quitting/ .
Look, rarely a week goes by where I don’t get trolled about my looks, make-up, accent, recipes, whatever – I generally give as good as I get because I believe in holding people accountable for their words, but these kinds of comments really aren’t the sort that keep me up at night.
They’re just idiotic statements by spelling-challenged, weed-smoking, basement-dwelling, pre-pubescent lowlifes.
What REALLY gets at me is when my parenting skills are called into question. It happened last year at OGM and it happened again today, at my one last remaining weekly event, ie. Concord Hospital Market.
A woman (NOT a member of the Concord Hospital staff but an outsider there for the day) came up to me while I was cooking, accused me of child neglect and said she was going to lodge a complaint against me for child abuse.
Meanwhile, Noah was happily in his own little world in his cot which was directly in front of my stall, with Becky keeping an eye on him from her side of the tent.
I pulled out my camera and started recording –
I received an email from the hospital’s Director of Marketing this evening to say she heard about what happened, confirmed this woman is not hospital staff and reiterated that the majority of the Concord Hospital community supports Noah’s presence at the market.
I’m tired so I’m copy-pasting part of my reply to her here –
I’m always prepared to engage people on the issue but it’s disappointing when they choose to rush to judgement and use threats right off the bat.
Noah is attended weekly by 3 different therapists (not to mention a whole, disparate team of doctors at Westmead) and I’m very closely involved in his development so I have no doubt I know what’s best for him.
I actually have one more staff member than is required so that the fourth person’s main role is as his babysitter, taking him out for walks etc. He ends up coming back into the stall to help the rest of us out because Noah simply prefers to sit in his cot and watch the world from there.
Noah mostly refuses walks and if he does take them he wants to go back to his cot within a couple of minutes, where he’s happy to drift off into his own world again. He also rejects all toys which he quickly throws out of his cot. I can see how that’s perceived as an unstimulating environment but that’s exactly what he dictates makes him happiest.
The lady came back at the end of the day to apologize but continued to twist my words re: his lack of desire for overstimulation to indicate I don’t know what’s best for my child, so that wasn’t helpful in bringing down my blood pressure and I apologize for my aggravated verbal response, for which I blame/credit my Hakka genes.
Noah spent the first 217 days of his life in hospital. I was called in 3 times in the middle of the night to prepare for his death. I fought the doctors to keep him alive. I gave up my restaurant to look after him. I was pushed or coerced out of most of my markets so that I now do just one cashflow-positive event a week.
In an ideal world, I wouldn’t need to work. In an ideal world, Noah would get my full and undivided attention 24×7. As it stands, like most people, I’m damaged and incomplete and just doing my best under the circumstances.
To insinuate in any way that I’m selfish and negligent in how I raise my child is probably the most offensive thing you could say to me. And for those who say this person meant well, it’s really like saying Hitler had some good ideas. Just quit it.
**The story that made headlines last year –
- Chef and mum quits Orange Grove Markets after complaints about her Down Syndrome son –http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/chef-and-mum-quits-orange-grove-markets-after-complaints-about-her-down-syndrome-son/story-fni0cx12-1227448360986
- When the urge to protect a child is really a judgement – http://www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/news-features/when-the-urge-to-protect-a-child-is-really-a-judgement-20150723-gii59z
- Mother quits market stall after complaints about Down Syndrome son – http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/07/18/mother-quits-market-stall-after-complaints-about-son-down-syndrome
- “The stall was his favourite day of the week” – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3166756/The-stall-favourite-day-week-Single-mum-devastated-forced-close-market-stall-people-complained-s-syndrome-son-takes-work-her.html
- (And one for the German speakers) – http://www.huffingtonpost.de/2015/07/20/mutter-kind-down-syndrom_n_7830520.html