Lately I have found myself conflicted. While I am usually the first to stand up and advocate for my needs, I have learned that some situations warrant silence. Granted, silence has never been my strength, so trying to maintain my composure under frustrating circumstances has been difficult.
Before I explain my predicament, perhaps a little background information would be helpful. Since he has graduated from "Snowplow Sam" learn to skate program to the "Learn to play hockey" classes, Scott and I have been able to take advantage of the seating provided for spectators at the ice rink. I learned early in Robby's skating endeavor that skate, like many other sports, operates with a strict hierarchy protocol among the parents. Violate their unspoken rules by infringing upon the seats before they have been earned only results in uncomfortable encounters and glares. When Robby had earned his way to the advanced classes and Scott and I had paid our dues by uncomfortably standing at the end of the rink, we were welcomed into the parent seating area.
Being able to sit during Robby's lessons has morphed from a nicety to a necessity as this pregnancy has progressed. As the bump is growing, it is becoming increasingly difficult and painful to stand for long periods of time. Like many lower extremity amputees, I find walking less physically taxing than trying to stand. The growing baby has only intensified the discomfort.
A few weeks ago we all bundled up and headed to the ice rink for Robby's hockey lesson. After dressing him in his pads, a task which takes far too long, he took to the ice while Scott and I headed for our seats. Low and behold, the seating area was roped off. Large "No Parent Seating, No Exceptions" signs were prominently hung along the boards. Rows of bleachers remained vacant as parents and spectators tried to wrangle for standing room along the rink.
Ten minutes into his lesson and I could feel my ankle swelling. My back was aching, and my limb was throbbing. I tried to shift my weight but was unable to fully alleviate the stress in my socket. As Robby's lesson progressed, so did my misery. By the time he came off the ice, I was nearly in tears because of the pain in my back, hips and legs.
I waived to his Coach, who must have anticipated my query. He immediately explained that he didn't know why the seating area was roped off and that he had already lobbied for an exception on my behalf. He was told that there would be no exceptions but suggested that I speak with the owner myself.
I opted to wait until the next day to return to the ice rink. My frustration, coupled with the pain that I was experiencing, would have led to an explosive exchange had I pursued the issue the night of the lesson. After I was able to rest and regain my composure, I drove to the rink, preparing to plea my case for a seating exception.
As soon as I walked into the lobby I heard the owner say, "I know why you are here. There are no exceptions under any circumstances. You will have to stand like everybody else." I smiled, which was a feat because I really wanted to lunge at him and scratch out his eyeballs, and took a deep breath before speaking. With a calm voice I retorted, "I just wanted to explain my problem. I'm an amputee and standing for long periods of time is extremely difficult. I'm also 7 months pregnant which makes everything harder." He didn't even look up from his notebook before curtly responding, "It's my rink, I can do what I want. I don't want people to sit. That's that."
In that moment, I knew that engaging in a verbal exchange was not going to be beneficial. After all, there are some people which whom debating issues and facts is simply fruitless. This man obviously did not care about my disability nor was he the least bit interested in accommodating my needs. Angry, but still composed, I left the rink.
Since that exchange I have been struggling with my next move. I am sure that I could press the issue and demand seating. However, doing so would definitely interfere with Robby's access to the skating rink and his beloved hockey lessons. Although I doubt the owner would have legal cause, I am confident that he would complicate Robby's enjoyment of skating. My little guy has worked so hard and loves being on the ice so much, that I would never want to put his access to the ice in jeopardy.
There are no other ice rinks in our vicinity which makes patronizing this establishment an unfortunate necessity. If I remain silent, I will be committing enduring hours of unnecessary pain. If I fight the "no exception" rule, I will be risking the activity my son adores. My devotion to Robby is the only thing that would ever keep me from fighting such an inane rule!
Right now, I am in a situation which I cannot win. My only solution is to pull the boxes of Christmas decorations off the wheelchair and bring it to the rink. Perhaps seeing me wheeled into the establishment will shame this individual into providing the simple seat that I require. I hate using the wheelchair and avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, right now this is the only solution I can find.