We were in the food court up in Sudbury, stopping for lunch on our day's journey. I wanted to roll around a bit, so Joe walked beside me as we chatted and shopped. It was a pleasant break from the drive. We picked up some small things for the kids and then decided to go for lunch. I knew what I was going to have, deciding as we rolled by the food court earlier on the Swiss Veggie Deluxe from A and W. Joe doesn't like A and W's veggie burger so he decided on quiche and soup. He waited in his line up, I in mine.
Once my order was placed, I rolled out of the way to let others place their orders. A mom and a little girl were in the line up. The little girl pointed at my wheelchair and said, to her mother's huge embarrassment, 'Look, a wheelchair.' I said to her, feeling like a kid conversation would add to the pleasant afternoon, 'Yes, that's how I get around.' She looked at me, pleased to be spoken to and said, 'Some has to push you.' I said, 'Well, sometimes, but mostly I push myself.' I slipped my gloves on saying, 'These gloves protect my hands when I push.' 'So you won't get blisters!' she added enthusiastically. Then I showed her how easy it was to push myself.
Her eyes widened and she said with hope, 'Is it fun?'
I told her that it was fun.
She grinned at the idea that riding a wheelchair was fun.
Mom as the passed by me to the counter whispered, 'I'm so sorry.'
'Don't be, I enjoyed the chat,' I said.
When we sat down Joe asked what I was talking to the little girl about, I described our lovely little chat. I felt bad that the mother felt she had to apologize when, in fact, I was thrilled she let the conversation happen. I'd much rather curiosity leading to questions rather than to stares. I'd rather a child ask someone in a wheelchair about life in a wheelchair rather than subscribe to the 'I'd rather be dead than in a wheelchair' doctrine I hear so much. I like answering little questions about life in a wheelchair. It's a good life. It's a truth that needs to be shared.
When we finished our lunch we headed out of the mall. I saw her again, briefly, she smiled and waved. I waved back. She will now grow into her life. I hope it's one of questions not assumptions - and if she ever, ever needs a wheelchair to get around, I hope she has fun!