Disabled Parking Only

I put off getting a handicap parking pass as long as I possibly could. I’m not exactly sure why. Partly because I hate the DMV. Partly because I always figured that there were other, truly disabled people that needed the spot more than we did.

As Charlie gets bigger and heavier, and now that we have our nifty yellow wheelchair, I finally broke down and went to the DMV to get that handicap pass. boy on a bench

Took me a couple tries and I made a super-exciting Youtube video in the middle of the process, but we did eventually get a disabled person’s ID for Charlie. That ID was potentially the funniest thing I have ever seen. The picture-taking lady, who doubles as the cashier, asked me to get his attnetion, but he got so excited by the song I sang that he clapped his hands in glee, smiled huge, and completely ruined the picture. I did not opt for a retake–I know memory gold when I see it.

boy sitting in the woods

So now that I have the pass, I think ti’s negatively affecting my blood pressure. Seriously.

Before we got our tag, I paid no attention to the disabled parking spaces–it was like they didn’t exist. Now, it’s totally different. I get ALL EXCITED thinking about how improved my shopping trip will be–plenty of room to put together the wheelchair if I need, a short walk if I’m carting my non-ambulatory preschooler into the building. I’m not gonna lie–it’s great.

But what happens when all the spaces are full? Do I go a bit–crazy? You betcha. I look at all the cars–how disabled can you be if you drive that tiny thing? Bet you can’t fit a wheelchair in there. I start imagining scenarios where people use tags that aren’t theirs. People who broke their legs six months ago and who are still using their tag long after getting well. It’s not healthy.

The other day I arrived at TJ Maxx looking for some comfortable winter flats. There are six disabled parking spots in front of TJ Maxx and every single one of them was taken. Middle of the day on a Friday and not one spot. I head into the store, but already the crazy is taking over my brain. Who are these so-called disabled people? How disabled are they? Are they really disabled?

boy in the woods

And if you think that gets bad–it gets worse. It does. I walked all around the store looking for someone who was having trouble getting around. I mean, TJ Maxx is a pretty big store–if you can get around there without help then surely you can walk in from the parking lot. Right? Right?!?

Ahem. I know this is crazy. I know I need to get a handle on these feelings o’entitlement. For crying out loud, I am able-bodied. Why am I letting this stuff get to me? There are a lot of real, actual issues I could be worrying about–what’s we’re going to eat for dinner, how I’m going to explain buying another pair of shoes to my husband, you know, actual problems.

So yeah, I’m working on this one. I’m not perfect and Charlie is one of my biggest reminders that it’s not about where you are, but where you’re headed. Hopefully I’m headed towards something better than this.

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  1. I have a disabled parking placard. Yesterday I was loading my toddler into the car while the teenager put the stroller in the back. Someone drove by and said “how did THEY get handicapped parking?” Thanks lady! Remember, when you’re having trouble finding a “disabled” person that sometimes the disability is invisible. There are so many things that I wouldn’t dare do without the luxury of handicapped parking.

    • Sam–yes, this is exactly why I suck–I’m not sure that I my son and I would look disabled if I opted to put him in a shopping cart and not use the wheelchair. Logically I know this, but then my lymbic system take hold and I become a complete ass. It’s an unpleasant realization.

  2. Ah. My favorite whinge. I find it more of a problem (the lack of spaces) with the power chair rather than the manual. I really wish that someone would invent a sturdy, power lift/tilt, electric wheelchair that weighs around 50 kilograms and can jump gutters – why is that too hard?

    I guess over time, other issues creep in – like the ramps being out the back of the building near the rubbish bins. Or the wheelchair lifts at restaurants or stand alone stores being used as storage rooms for junk. Or a place not even having a ramp or lift. Or narrow isles in shops. And you begin to wonder how you got to be so unimportant.

    I guess some disabilities are “invisible” whilst others make you feel invisible.

  3. Welcome to my world. Once, when my husband was unloading my wheelchair from the trunk of our car so I could get out, some old man started yelling at him telling him that space was reserved for “the residents who had been there a long time.” My wheelchair, the handicap placard, none of that impressed him. That’s “entitlement.”

  4. We’ve had Eli’s placard for over 4 years now. I didn’t use it much at first, because I carried him alot.
    But, as we started using his stroller more I like to have the space available in a van parking spot. I’d prefer my kid didn’t get hit while loading and unloading, thankyouverymuch!

    I, too, have major issues when it comes to the disabled parking spots.

    A) Wal-Mart has about 50 – and there are NEVER any available!!!!!!!!
    B) We live in a little town with a little Post Office. There is one disabled spot. People actually park there….and have the ABLE-BODIED person go in and get the mail!!!!!!!!!!! I want to scream when that happens!

    My temporary solution is to take up two parking spots, elsewhere, and I put my placard on the mirror.

    This tactic got me to thinking. I do not use the placard so I can have the “rock star parking”. I use it to have the extra space! So, I was thinking of starting a movement! :)

    What if they put Van Accessible Parking spots – in the middle of the parking lot! I mean, I can walk! My kid has wheels! I don’t mind pushing him! I just want the safety zone.

    What do you think? Isn’t that a viable solution? Should I start a blog and a movement across the web…and across the nation?

    :) Amy

    • Amy, you are SO right on this one. I lot of time space is the big issues–that’s why I use the spots at school. And also, just wrestling Charlie out of the car period. Sometimes people park so stupidly I have trouble getting him out and it’s not like he can crawl across the seats like most kids.

  5. We have a placard too for Aria and know how frustrating it can be when there is no spot with enough room to use the wheelchair. I’m totally for Amy’s idea of van accessible parking spaces not so close to the entrance! I do not have any mobility issues personally nor does my husband. We just need enough space to lower Aria’s wheelchair lift and get her off the lift so she can get out of the van. That’s all we need and when cars without lifts/ramps/mobility aides (wheel/power chairs, walkers or strollers) or people that have the placard but do not need all that space use those spots it really irritates me! Hopefully courtesy for van accessible parking spaces among those with or without the need for a handicap parking placard or license plates will become more common place in the future. The key word there is hopefully. Thanks for sharing, Katy! =]

  6. He looks so cute sitting on that bench. :)

  7. I went to Target last week with my teenager. We haven’t gotten a parking sticker yet, but as the eventual arrival of Henry’s wheelchair looms, I am anticipating the trip to DMV. Ugh…
    Anyway, it was her and I, and our able bodies, discussing disabled parking ethics… who knew? We decided that we won’t take a space unless we absolutely need to. If one of us runs into the store or PO, we won’t tale a space…
    These are not problems that I ever anticipated having to puzzle out.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and process.

  8. Oh, you make me laugh! My uncle now has a van with a ramp out the side….if you think it’s hard to find ANY handicapped space, try finding only one that has enough room for him to open his ramp and drive his wheelchair out. Not easy, my friend!

  9. ha! I totally get it. I LOVE Elisabeth’s handicapped placard. And I don’t feel bad about that. I figure that since we put in so much extra effort in raising her I can enjoy that real perk :)

    But now that I am used to it I get so frustrated when they are taken. Or the times when I am out shopping without her and have to park in the normal parking….seems like such a chore…ha!

  10. I know what you mean. I think we all have that tendency from time to time. Like another commenter, I have been to Walmart and wondered why their 25 spots are always full. Even worse than that is when I took Emily to the pediatrician. It is located at a local hospital right next to the ER entrance. There was only one spot for the disabled. AT A HOSPITAL! I ended up having to park super far away and walk down a huge hill to get there. Of course, if she wasn’t in a wheelchair we could have just WALKED DOWN THE STAIRS to the entrance. Why would a hospital not think to make their parking lot accessible for patients? That just irks me!

  11. Forgot to mention…LOVE those pics! How cute is he? The wavy hair, the smile! I could just eat him up!

  12. as someone who doesn’t now need a handicap permit and prays i never will: DON”T GET ME STARTED!

  13. I am the same way. I think the same thoughts too. Ha. I love the new photos of Charlie. He looks awesome. Hopefully, you won’t need that parking pass in the future because he will be able to walk. That would be awesome. If Emma could walk one day, I would gladly walk with her through a long parking lot. But, I guess even kids who walk may still need to get closer to the store some days, especially until they have good endurance. Oh well, I feel ya.

  14. We use the disabled spot when we can; IF E is walking with her loftstrands. She simply doesn’t have the endurance to go across a gigantic parking lot. The extra space is also great, b/c we’re working on her getting in and out of the car by herself (my back is very happy about this).

    For Mother’s Day this year, we went to a big shopping center (read: flat) with Oia and her fam. Some a$$hole parked in the space between my car (in a h-cap spot) and another car (in a h-cap spot)–completely blocking the driver’s entrance to the other car. A huge suburban, with some fishing-hunting-entitlement sticker. I WAS HOT. I mean, it was so tight that I have no idea how the driver got out of that car once parked. AND YES THERE WERE OTHER SPOTS FURTHER DOWN THE LOT.

    Seriously, WHAT IS WITH THAT? Karma, go get that driver. rrrrrrrgh

    ps. Katy, I took a picture…but I guess I can’t attach it on your comments. Gotta love camera phones.

  15. Just always keep in mind the invisible disabilities. One of my best friends in high school had multiple back surgeries for a degenerative disc disease, and to the outsider she looked like a normal teenager. She could walk just fine- but if she walked, say, the distance of the parking lot and then inside the store, she’d pretty much be in pain and unable to do anything for the rest of the day. So people would glare at her for parking in the handicapped space when she hopped out of her car and back to it with shopping bags, but the simple truth was that she could walk fine- for short distances.

    Same thing happened when we got to go through the handicapped entrances at Disney World. She’d hop out of her wheelchair and sometimes people would roll their eyes at these teenagers who had apparently rented a wheelchair to skip out on lines- but even though my friend could jump up and out of the wheelchair with no trouble, a day of walking around Disney World would have never been possible. Heck, an hour or walking around Disney wouldn’t have been possible.

    I try to remember that whenever I see someone that clearly looks to be taking advantage of the system. They could be just like my friend, recovering from a surgery or taking 30 pills a day, but adamant to not let it stop them from doing the normal.

  16. Two things made me get a placard for my son (2.5 years old non-mobile for many years to come).

    1. Gave myself extra room on his side to place a 30 lbs hypotonic child safely into my low compact car (read: door needs to be open all the way). Someone backed in while I was running my errand and parked so close passenger side to passenger side to my car that when I came back and saw this, I was so discouraged I started to cry in the parking lot. i was alone and couldn’t get him in. i had to lay him flat on the other side of the car and wrangle him in to the seat while kneeling on the seat over him. not a good day.

    2. 8 floor parking garage at the hospital and elevator is broken. Nuff said.


  17. PS i forgot to say that where I live your GP or Peds fills in the disability parking form and you send it in by mail. 5 days later(!) the lovely shiny pass was in my mailbox. Take that DMV!

  18. Handicapped plates and tags are also given for people with certain heart conditions, people who have kids with autism, and immune disorders…among several other reasons. I actually yelled at somebody for taking advantage of a space and they didn’t look physically disabled….I got an earful after.

  19. Well, hon, you know what I think. Alan gets looked at funny sometimes, but in his case, when he goes out it is usually in a group setting and they are usually wheeled up to the front door an in the emergency lane to off load. Talk about getting looks and spoken to like the staff is being rude.

    You know what it is like with Charlie in a wheelchair..look at Alan at 150 and 6 foot 1 in a wheelchair that he has no control over. Yeah he needs help, and if he is protected getting into point B, I have no problems with it. None at all..

    And Charlie is freaking gorgeous, as per the usual cute boy code! :-)

  20. I myself have experienced the crazy that is having a disabled parking doohicky for one’s child. I have also been asked, point-blank (while being sized up as not looking a bit handicapped), how did YOU get a disabled card? Thanks, bub, it’s for my daughter.

    I’m sure every parent of a disabled child gets that at some point. We take it in stride, and we move on. Because we’ve dealt with larger, more important struggles, and we have surmounted even them.

  21. Haha, I completely relate to this :) I’m always watching the people who park in disabled spots and judging them – it’s bad…!

  22. The best photos of Charlie yet… cuter, better and stronger every day!

  23. I think I’d feel exactly the same way about the sticker stress/high blood pressure!

    I found you on twitter. I love your site.


  24. look at how wonderfully strong he is looking :) Awesome
    All I can say is don’t let it get you riled. Focus on the fact that there are disabled parking spots available at all because there are many places here (in Jamaica) that are still in need of some disability education.

  25. My husband and I were chuckling at this post because we feel the same way about disabled parking! I always look at each vehicle in the spots and make sure they have the right license plate. I don’t know what I would do if they didn’t, but I just need to check. We have also been asked to move from a disabled parking spot before the person realized we had a daughter with special needs; I think they felt pretty bad.

  26. Charlie looks so cute! It has been a real joy to watch him go from a baby to a toddler. As so many people have already said, Charlie looks so much stronger.

  27. Wow…I am SO glad to read that I am not the only one who is nucking futs.

  28. OOOH, this makes my blood boil. A couple of months ago, at a mall, I saw two moms and kids pull into a parking spot for the handicapped. They were in their twenties, with babies, AND THEY BOTH HAD ON OBSCENELY HIGH HEELS. I stopped dead in my tracks and just glared at them. “You got a problem?” one of them said. I answered, “I think handicapped spots are for people with handicaps.” She said, literally, “Mind your own business.”

    I really wasn’t up for starting a fight, given that I had left my brass knuckles at home, so I gave her one last parting glare, and went to my car.

    Later, I thought, I should have called the police on her. I wonder if they would have actually done anything, though.

    • Ellen, as a former school teacher, I can tell you that the people who are the most obnoxious are usually the ones that have the most to be defensive about. In contrast, I would be totally fine with explaining our situation or showing Charlie’s disabled ID.

  29. Ha!! I can picture myself getting just as crazy p***ed off!

    We could have gotten the HP tag when Owen was an infant, just ’cause he was so sickly. I never went and got it. I didn’t consider him disabled enough. And reallly, he wasn’t. But it would have been nice to score a good spot at Children’s Hospital once in a while.

  30. thanks for the post

  31. I shouldn’t laugh at you. I shouldn’t. But that was funny–because I would be doing the same. exact. thing.