It had been a busy day, Mike, Marissa and the kids were in town. Lots was planned. First we had to pretend to like the Smurf movie (which we thought was vile) and that took a lot of energy. Second, we were shopping for shoes for two little girls who both had the Imelda Marcos gene and had to try on several pairs to get just the right one. Finally home and back into the air conditioning we began to relax.
The television was on and playing a show I was finding equally ghastly. It was one of those 'build a home for the pathetic' kind of reality things. Lots of tears, lots of wailing about people with Down Syndrome having no future and needing charity. I kept my mouth shut. Not everyone sees the world the way I do, not everyone has to hear from me all the time. I'm guessing that the television might have been left on that show because it was thought that I'd like it.
There was all sorts of chatter and activity going on to distract me. Somewhere late into the show, Ruby ended up standing beside me and watching the television. She broke gaze with the screen and looked up at me, "What's wrong with that man," she asked. I looked over and saw a man with Down Syndrome being asked to do an imitation of Elvis by a man who was loving, more than ever, being normal . There was a two part answer to Ruby's question, one about Down Syndrome and one about the fact that difference isn't wrong. So I started, 'He has Down Syndrome ...' and began to explain what that meant. After a few seconds, before I got to difference isn't wrong, Ruby spoke up. 'Not him,' she said, exaggerating the word. 'the other man, why is he talking funny like that, that other man isn't a little boy.'
She's a kid. She gets it. This, is a different question. This is the right question. This is a difficult question. I said, 'You know how sometimes people are kind of weird to me because I'm in a wheelchair?' She nodded, this is something that she notices and is bothered by. 'Well, sometimes people are ...' and before I could finish she flew up into my arms and gave me a hug.
Something told me I didn't have to say anything more.