By Claire Hamilton
We all know there is no such thing as normal – but this new book which explores what it’s like to be the parent of a disabled child makes me realize that there are so many different ways to be a family, yet the ‘system’ only really recognizes one. ‘My Baby Rides the Short Bus‘ is a book that deserves a wide audience. There are so many emotions which all parents share, but especially in a country where health care isn’t free, the hoops parents of children with disabilities have to jump through is eye-opening to say the least. This anthology was complied by parents, all of whom have a unique experience. The common thread which binds them is often the way the outside world sees and judges their family. One of the featured writers is Bust’s own Mother Superior Ayun Halliday. Her essay ‘An Inadvertently Compelling Argument for National Health Care in Five Mutually Incriminating Scenes‘ documents a series of phone calls she had with her epileptic daughter’s health insurer. Those people who don’t understand why universal health care’s such a great idea should read this .. but this isn’t really the wider point of the anthology (and by the way I am British, so kind of biased in that regard!). The essay conveys the frustration at having to negotiate a system which doesn’t work for you – and having to deal with other people who really don’t understand your situation. There are stories here about adoption, sickness, sadness and tears – but there are just as many uplifting moments which make you realize that none of these parents think ‘poor me’. As a whole, the book also seeks to explode the idea of these parents as saints or angels – and tries to show that all parents – whatever their kids are like – are just trying to do their best.