(Let me get that for you.)
It was huge, miles and miles of buttons and bells. A video arcade that covered acres and acres of land. There was a surreal dreamlike quality to the whole thing. I don't really get video games, although I like some of the more carny games, but it was fun wandering around watching people have fun. Joe and I were asked to babysit Ruby for a while as her mom and dad went off to play some games. We agreed and Ruby toddled off with us, her eyes full of wonder at all the sights and sounds.
(I'll reach that for you.)
Ruby was born interested in buttons. Forget games, she loves a remote control or a telephone. Not quite a year and a half and she's already better at operating the television contols than I am. So it wasn't hard to keep her distracted. She would just go up to various machines and push buttons and then stand back and laugh. A couple of times she seemed disoriented with excitement. It's great to see someone enjoying the world without having to interpret anything.
(Let me move that.)
She's settled on a game that she can't quite reach. There are huge stools bolted down in front of the game so Joe picks her up and sits her on the stool. She immediately begins banging on the four huge buttons in front of her. Joe is concerned that she will slip and fall so he holds her gently around the waist. She stops banging the buttons and a look of annoyance crosses her face. She reaches down and pushes his hands away. He lets go of her and as she reaches back to hit the buttons she begins to slip. Too young to recognize danger she pays no attention to the imminent fall and Joe takes her again in his hands to keep her from falling. Again she pushes his hands away. He realizes what she wants so he pinches the back of her blouse in his fingers so he can ensure that she doesn't fall. She goes on banging buttons.
Ruby doesn't yet speak, well a few da da's and ma ma's and a really cute hello. But she knows what it is to be independant. She is in love with her own self reliance. What she can do for herself, she does. Don't try to feed her, she can do it herself. Don't try to carry her, she can walk. Don't try to hold her steady, she can balance herself. She is a master at pushing away the helping hand and asserting her will to do it on her own.
(Here let me get that.)
The drive for independance comes early and stays late. I saw an elderly man in a store glare at a young pup who offered to help him carry bags to his car. "You think I'm an old man?" is what he said but "You think I can't do things on my own?" is what he meant.
(I'll carry that for you.)
There is no question that there are things I need help with now that I'm in a wheelchair. There are things I could do before that I can't do now. But what I can do, I still enjoy doing. What is still under my control - is still mine and I won't reliquish it for blood nor money. I have learned to ask for help when needed and do it on my own when I can. It's a very simple process.
(Here, let me move that.)
I didn't really understand, until watching Ruby play, how important it is to feel that one is competent to do what one is wanting to do. How much of our self esteem is wrapped up in pushing another's hands away and doing it ourselves. How much of pride and worth comes from knowing that we, in that moment, are all we need.
(I'll get the door.)
I didn't really understand, until watching Ruby play, why I got so annoyed when people would intrude into my life with offers of help. Wanting to get something for me, carry something for me, reach something for me ... sending me messages of dependance and trompling all over private moments with myself. I love people's helpful attitudes when I need assistance - I love it when I ask for help and someone does it without making me feel useless. But I don't love their NEED to help me, to build up THEM by diminishing me. I know sometimes I brushed hands away abruptly, maybe even a little rudely, I need to be careful of that - but now I know why.
Because Ruby isn't two.
And she wants to feel able.
So why wouldn't I?