Just a little light bed time conversation at 8:20pm on a random Tuesday.
Me: How was your day honey?
Jay: I had pizza. The other kids had tacos but I don’t like tacos so I got pizza.
Me: How do you feel about that? That you got to have pizza but the other kids had to have the tacos?
Jay: I feel lucky.
Me: Did any of the other kids say anything to you about it?
Jay: Well, Aiden asked me how come I got pizza and I told him it’s because I have a card that says if they are serving food I don’t like I can have something else. I told him I got the card because my mom got it for me and maybe he should ask his mom to get him one.
Me: Do you know what it’s called when you ask for what you want because it’s something you deserve; not just something you’d like to have?
Me: Advocacy. I advocated for you to get that card because I know that you are not just choosing to be difficult with the food. You have a right to get other options. Just like kids who are in wheelchairs have a right to have ramps installed.
Jay (rolling the word around his tongue): Avocacy. Like, I can avodicacy for anything I want.
Me: Well, it’s best if you save it for something really meaningful and like I said, something that you are entitled to. Not just something you WANT. And you have to know that it’s not always as easy as me asking for a card for you. Sometimes you’ll get what you ask for and sometimes you won’t and sometimes you’ll get denied at first and then you’ll have to try again and again before you get it. It can be hard but it’s very important that we all learn how to advocate for ourselves so we can be safe and well taken care of and fully included. And it’s also important that we learn how to advocate for other people who can’t do it for themselves and may need our help. Do you understand?
Jay: Yes. I am going to tell Aiden to avo avo avocate for himself next summer so he can get pizza too.
*I don’t think he quite gets it – yet. It’s all about the pizza right now. That’s perfectly ok. But I want to plant the seeds early so he will grow up in the knowledge that his needs are worth fighting for and that it’s not wrong to advocate for your rights.