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Woman Accused Of Being ‘Too Sensitive’ After Asking Partner’s Nephews Not To Play With Her Wheelchair

Zachary Kyra-Derkson/Unsplash

We would like to believe that we’re all in agreement by now in regards to people’s bodily autonomy, especially since we’re at the end of 2021.

Unfortunately, that still isn’t the reality, and people who need accessibility tools or .obility aids pay the price, stated the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor rollerhyacinth was surprised when she went to meet her boyfriend’s family, only for them to reveal negative viewpoints of her wheelchair.

Blamed for how the situation went, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was wrong to speak up for herself.

She asked the sub:

“AITA for telling my partner’s nephews not to play with my wheelchair?”

The OP enjoyed meeting her partner’s family.

“I (28 [Female]) went to with my partner (29 [Male]) to meet his family for the first time and it was going great.”

“I had to answer a few obnoxious health questions as people were curious about the chair but nothing I’m not used to.”

“I can mostly block those out by now and beyond that, it was a nice meeting, and I was having fun.”

That was until the nephews got involved.

“I have limited mobility, so to be more comfortable, I’d moved myself onto the couch to join in the conversation with my chair nearby.”

“My boyfriend’s nephews (age 9 and 5) pounced at this point and began to play with it, sitting on it and trying to push it about, though they couldn’t budge it, thankfully.”

“I told them nicely that I need that and to please not play with it, as they might damage it, or worse, get hurt themselves.”

“This was laughed off by my boyfriend’s mother who told me not to worry about it as they were good boys and they’d be careful, so it was fine.”

“This made me rather upset and I told them very firmly that, no, it was not ok and my wheelchair was not a toy, and I asked again that they please leave it alone.”

The OP was blamed for the evening.

“My boyfriend told me I was being too sensitive and they were just kids and to let it go, but the atmosphere was ruined for the night.”

“My boyfriend blames me for making things awkward and that they were doing no harm.”

“AITA for demanding this?”

“It seemed reasonable, but I feel awful now for how they’ve all reacted.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some equated messing with the OP’s chair with other medical devices.

“It belongs to OP. Even if it was an inexpensive coat, OP would have every right to say it wasn’t okay for the kids to play with, or for anyone to touch it without asking.”

“BF’s mother is teaching her kids that they don’t have to respect other people’s property, nor is she teaching them the difference between basic items and medical equipment.”

“What next, they play with someone’s oxygen tank or accidentally unplug someone’s ventilator?”

“A 9-year-old should already know not to touch other people’s things without permission, and a 5-year-old is definitely old enough to be taught (I can understand some 5-year-olds needing reminders).”

“NTA OP, but it sounds like your BF doesn’t understand or respect your medical needs. Would he or his mother have been willing to replace the chair if the kids had broken it? And pay for whatever accommodations you would need until you got the new one? I doubt it.”

“My son (7) has ADHD and impulse control problems (not minor ones), so he sometimes needs reminders, but we’ve been teaching him for years that some things are not to be touched.” – Wolf_Reader

“NTA, I even have to remind my own 9&13 yr olds to stay off my rollator and stop playing with my cane.”

“It’s a reasonable boundary that people and children can respect a person’s medical equipment. It’s never ‘no big deal.'” – crookednarnia

“You also can’t just pick them up at the corner store, so if the chair breaks, OP loses some or all of her independence for however long it takes to get a new one.” – baconeggsnoodles

“NTA. Absolutely not, your wheelchair is not a toy, it’s a very expensive piece of technical support equipment. You should not have had to say anything, the boy’s parents should have made them stop, those boys need a lesson in manners.”

“Ditch the boyfriend—narcissists always tell you you’re being too sensitive when you are trying to set boundaries.” – Competitive_Tea2413

“NTA that is not fricking ok. I’ve told children I see in the shopping malls playing with mobility scooters/wheelchairs they lend to customers, to just not and if the parents are nearby say this is not a toy and people need them.”

“Like how little respect is that. If they broke it I’d bet a million that they would not pay for it.” – Nefirzum

“NTA. It’s not okay to play with other people’s medical equipment. Especially when they they’re asked not to.”

“You set a boundary and it was crossed. Then you had to reinforce that boundary.”

“Don’t ever stop advocating for yourself.” – Ok_Sleep_5724

“NTA but if your boyfriend writes off someone f’king with your mobility device that easily and you getting upset about it, I’d yeet.”

“F’king with a medical device isn’t okay. When it’s mine, I get mean.”

“When it was my dad’s wheelchair, I got meaner. That is NOT okay.”

“That might as well be part of your body and kids just playing with your leg or something isn’t okay, f’king with your mobility device sure as hell isn’t and it’s concerning as all hell if your boyfriend blamed you for being awkward at the outright ableism displayed by his mother.”

“Don’t feel awful, calling you sensitive and allowing kids to do that is horrific. and ableds have a knack for calling disabled people ‘sensitive’ whenever we show the same boundaries with autonomy as them (go f’king figure) – your wheelchair is part of you.” – faloofay

​”NTA. What they do not understand is the importance of that chair to your independence. If someone got hurt on it that would be bad enough.”

“But what if it was broken in some way? How are they going to repair it?”

“What impact would it have on you? That chair is like your legs.”

“It doesn’t matter how good the kids are. Accidents happen and if you don’t have a working chair then your life is hugely impacted by this, yet they can go on and play.”

“And if you have a very customized chair, those can be extremely expensive to fix or replace—like thousands of dollars. I doubt they understand the gravity of the situation.”

“It might have been better to educate them on this than to take the direction you did. This way they might not have been put off and still not understand the issue.” – Special-Parsnip9057

“My mother was usually a very sweet natured person until someone messed with her wheelchair! As children my brother and I were taught NEVER to mess with it or try to play with it.”

“Wheelchairs ARE NOT TOYS! They are necessary medical devices.”

“My mom taught us that it was disrespectful to use her chair to play with, that we should NEVER pretend to need one because in her mind, who on earth would ever think needing a wheelchair was fun?” – Glass_Steak4738

“NTA, a wheelchair is not now, nor ever has been a toy. I don’t let random people play in my chair, no matter the age. It just costs too much to replace.”

“Even if insurance covered the replacement, that still isn’t an excuse to let someone play with a wheelchair.”

“If broken, how would you be able to use it later that day or the next week or more trying to get a replacement? Would your boyfriend and his family pay for a new one?”

“The hundreds of dollars put into a wheelchair, one without mods, is insane. Sorry I know I am preaching to the choir here. Hugs, from a wheelchair user in Minnesota.” – louiseannbenjamin

“NTA. I’m not a wheelchair-user, so I could be wrong on this, but my understanding was to treat mobility aids like an extension of the person (eg wheeling someone around without their permission is assault, etc…).”

“And even without any personal attachment, it is an extremely expensive piece of equipment that would seriously impact your day-to-day life if it was damaged.

“Would they let kids—even well-behaved ones—play around on their car? Drop their glasses?”

“At the end of the day, the wheelchair is important, and it’s YOURS. Kids need to learn to respect other people and their things sooner or later, and until they do, their parents should keep some control.” – Bytheid

“As a parent it really irks me when other parents/families impose their ‘good children’ with absolutely no boundaries onto other people.”

“It does not matter how well behaved they might be. Accidents can and will happen.”

Anyone who has spent more than an hour with a child knows this. But that is beside the point.”

“Your wheelchair is in fact NOT a toy. It is the difference between mobility, independence, and being stuck, as well as reliant upon someone else’s time schedule.”

“NTA but your boyfriend and his mom certainly are.” – Pconn09

Others said the OP needed to rethink her relationship.

“This kid took off with my Dad’s walker and everyone was laughing at how cute she was.”

“I could just see the anxiety in his eyes while he played it off, so I was the AH.”

“He thanked me later. It’s ridiculous to let kids play with essential medical equipment.” – Responsible_Candle86

“A kid was f**king with my dad’s electric wheelchair.”

“Ableds (abled people) looooooooooooooooooove to call us sensitive for having boundaries and exercising the same autonomy as them.”

“Especially when it comes to children. It’s f**king disturbing.” – faloofay

“A wheelchair is like an extension of your body that enables you to get around and live your life. If 2 kids started climbing all over me, I’d be p**sed.”

“Absolutely NTA, but the mom and boyfriend definitely are. How dare they override what you say.”

“They have no right to say it’s fine when it’s nothing to do with them. Rude people.” – solid_vomit

“NTA and open your eyes about your boyfriend, he’s an asshole along with the rest of them.” – RB1327

“It doesn’t matter how much a chair costs. The actions of the family and the boyfriend showed no respect and damaged OP’s autonomy. Definitely NTA.” – Rabid-kumquat

“If they did damage it, I’m betting BF’s mom would be like, ‘Oh, they didn’t mean to, so we’re not paying for it.'” – furferksake

“NTA and that’s a giant red flag from the whole family.” – HangryValkyrie

“Boyfriend, huh? for how long? because he clearly lacks respect for you and the situation.”

“Reconsider the people around you and also know… NTA, this is a completely reasonable request, if not one that should almost not need to be spoken as it’s NOT A TOY.” – madmaxxx5

“NTA. A wheelchair is a mobility aids and should be considered an extension of a person’s body.”

“Just as jumping on a person and trying to push them around without their consent and willing participation should not be tolerated, similarly such actions to a person’s mobility aids should not be tolerated.”

“I get that maybe people are unaware initially of this. Or how expensive mobility aids are.”

“But you stated a VERY reasonable boundary in a way that was both polite and educational.”

“For their mother to then essentially say ‘let them do what they want’ is unacceptable.

“And for your boyfriend to DEFEND his sister? Imho that’s unforgivable.” – Courin

Though the OP felt conflicted because of what her boyfriend said, the subReddit did not agree.

Rather, they felt that the boyfriend shouldn’t have a say anymore after the evening they had together, because a wheelchair is of vital importance and should not be treated like a disposable toy anyone can play with.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.