Wednesday, May 06, 2009

MINE!



We were on the boat ride over to the Magic Kingdom when Ruby spotted a girl of about 8 wearing a Cinderella gown and necklace. The necklace had a cameo portrait of Cindy and acted like a magnet pulling Ruby to itself. Her little finger pointed at the picture as she said to the girl, in a hushed voice, 'Is that you?' The girl, delighted at the attention, said, 'Yes.' Ruby took a step away from her and looked closely. You could see disbelief followed quickly by disappointment etch themselves on her face. She knew she'd been lied to, she reached out to her mom to be held. It was a tough moment to watch.

Certainly there are things we need to learn as we grow. Things that keep us safe. Beyond not running with sissors and looking both ways before crossing a street, learning that others lie, others trick and others manipulate - are also important lessons. Sad ones, true, but did one of these lessons have to happen on the boat over to Disney?

Ruby also seemed to begin to notice my differences more on this trip. Up until now, I've just been Dave. Dave is in a chair. Dave is really fat. Dave is simply Dave. But now Ruby was recognizing that many, most, other people are not like me. Most other people walk. Most other people are thinner. Most other people are different. Dave is different. She'd point out other people in wheelchairs to me. A couple of times she saw other big people and she'd smile and point at them too. It was like she wanted me to know somehow, that I was not alone that there were others like me out there too.

Then, we were at the pool. I was sitting in my wheelchair and Ruby had come back from swimming. A family had taken a table not far from us and they had three children, one a child a couple years older than Ruby. Ruby is very social and likes to be around and play with other children so she cautiously made her way over to say 'hi'. It was only when I felt that I had to pay close attention to them that I heard that they were making fun of me, my weight, my wheelchair, typical stupid stuff.

It registered all over Ruby's face that they were being mean to me. She fought tears as her face contorted getting ready to cry. Once over the urge she pointed back at me, 'Dave ...' there was a long pause as she tried to find a word to say. Her vocabulary doesn't give her the language she needed to defend me. I waited. This was her moment, not mine. 'Dave ...' she said again. They'd stopped talking because they'd noticed her presence. Knew they'd been heard by this little girl.

'Dave ... MINE!' she said, turned round and ran back to us. She threw her arms up to me and I picked her up. She gave me a hug. I thanked her for standing up for me.

'Mine.' People should not tease and mock me because I belong to someone. People should not hurt each other because we all belong to others. We are knit into lives, we are part of a larger fabric of belonging. 'Mine.' A word of possession, a word of inclusion, a word of affection. A word known by two year olds everywhere. So all over two know the morality of cruelty.

I do not need the protection of a two and a half year old girl. No. But I'm proud to have it.

21 comments:

Belinda said...

What an absolutely moving story. How safe you must feel to be hers, just as you must to be His.

krista said...

Isn't it great to be a "mine" to somebody else?

Leslie said...

Sweet kid! You're going to have such fun watching her grow up and be able to articulate her ideas.

wendy said...

Big points for Ruby for being so brave! Big points for Dave for letting Ruby handle it! "Dave....MINE"
Seems pretty articulate to me!

Sharon said...

Beautiful Dave. What a treasure Ruby is.

FridaWrites said...

I love Ruby too. :)

I am being bullied by a group of parents and it's difficult to sit alone through that. It's so much easier when a friend is there--then I can ignore it.

CJ said...

What a wonderful little girl. She learned a tough lesson but responded with pure goodness.

Anonymous said...

isn't love such a wonderful thing, and there is nothing like the purity of the love of a child.

FAB said...

Made me cry. I love...Love!

Erin said...

Wow. It's so nice that you have such a wonderful relationship with her and her family.

Shan said...

Aw....2 is my favourite age - big, open hearts.

Anonymous said...

I love that!!!

As always, thanks for sharing!!

:o)

lina said...

smiling, feeling warm inside, loving Ruby and great picture!

Amy said...

Ruby and my Emma would probably be great friends. :-)

Just today, we were at the grocery store, and Emma ran up to a woman in a wheelchair to say hello. The woman was shocked, and told me what a sweet girl I have - she said it was nice to be noticed, she's used to being invisible. I thought of you, Dave, and told her, "I hear that happens a lot."

Andrea S. said...

I read this post this morning ... and am reading it again now at 9 pm ... and cried both times! Ruby is such a dear child. I think she said all that really needed to be said! Which shows just how simple love and inclusion really are.

Anonymous said...

Very touching story, made me want to cry!

Gün Osborn said...

How wonderful

Brenda said...

This is beautiful. Ruby is a very special little girl, and it's lovely that you are in each other's lives. It occurs to me that a scenario similar to this could be made into a TV commercial and, in the interest of raising awareness, might serve to remind folks that we all belong to somebody; that we are so much more than just the disability that they see (or don't see); that we experience and deserve love; that someone is glad to know us and call us their own. I know it will probably never happen, but I could see it so clearly in my head I just thought I'd share.

Cynthia F. said...

Great kid! And I loved the photos too. Maybe it's just the light, but is Ruby going to get a little sister or brother sometime soon? She'll be even more glad you're hers then.

Princeton Posse said...

I'm a bit behind in my reading but this brought tears to my eyes. So precious...

Anonymous said...

Just heard the "Mine!" story told on CBC radio. It made me come to your website! Thank you for the story. It is very powerful. I wonder if you would be willing to be a guest blog on our website: whenlovehurts.ca. This is the connection I see... As you told the story on CBC you talked about how all those hurtful comments of others (everyday) really had done on number on your self-esteem. I work with women who are pummelled with words like that by their husbands everyday. Their self-esteem is in tatters but society things that they should somehow just fix their self-esteem and get out. I think your story showed how non of us have good self-esteem on our own. We feel good about ourselves when others treat us well and love us. Anyway, if you are interested, you can reach me at info@whenlovehurts.ca - Thanks! Karen.