Dear Amy: I have myriad health problems. The long and short of it is that I am often in pain and have difficulty walking, sitting and standing. That said, I do not use a wheelchair yet, and while I walk slowly, I don’t always limp.
However, at my newborn’s day care center, none of this matters. There are only two handicap spaces, and they are almost always taken by healthy moms who resent being asked to move for someone who “obviously isn’t disabled.”
I try being polite, but some of the moms are incredibly rude. One even threatened me after I asked her to move her SUV. (She was parked across both spaces with the motor off and talking on the phone.)
I have asked the head of the center to please post a sign reminding parents that they shouldn’t take up the disabled spots but she won’t do it. I feel awful about causing trouble. Should I just suck up the pain and park far away, or in some cases, wait 10 minutes for a space? Finding another day care isn’t an option.
Amy says: You have tried asking people nicely to respect the handicap space, which is there by law. You have gone to the head of the day care center and asked her to post a reminder, and nothing has worked. If you don’t want to make waves, you will need to continue to accommodate these rude mothers.
There is also the nuclear option: If you have a valid and visible handicap permit and these jerky mothers won’t move their cars when you ask, then you can park behind them, trapping them in — and (after everyone has taken their babies in), call the police to ticket the other drivers.
Offers of help rejected
Dear Amy: A close relative’s son, who is 16, failed three classes last year.
Despite attempts to get him to go to summer school, he did not go. Being concerned, I ordered a behavioral intervention program I think would be helpful. I offered it to his mother free of charge, but she refuses to look at it.
I am sick with worry over the boy’s future. I love them both, but I feel the mother is letting her pride get in the way of accepting my help.
Can you offer any suggestions?
Amy says: You can send your relative all of this material along with a note saying, “I realize this is overstepping boundaries, but I want to offer this to you in hopes that it will help.” After that, do no more.
It is kind of you to try to help this child, but you must realize that being an “armchair parent” will not endear you to parents struggling in the trenches.