It's been a rough day.
We went out with Ruby, wanting her to see some of the Christmas displays. In particular we wanted to show her the giant reindeer that have overtaken the Eaton Center downtown. These may comprise the most beautiful holiday decorations that I have ever seen. I was awestruck when I first saw them. Ruby was prepped to go and see them and we, excitedly, took the subway down to the mall.
We waited for the second train so that we could get into the first car so that Ruby could look out the window and watch us travel through the tunnels. I'm nearly 60 and I love watching too, so just imagine what it would be like for a little girl unused to subway travel. She was thrilled. Joe and I had a checklist of things to do and things for her to experience, the subway was first on the list and then we began.
But my. Oh my.
It was tough. It seems that the 'spirit of the season' evaporated overnight. The mall was busy to the point of manic. We had difficult accessing ramps, people didn't want to wait for me to use them. Joe had to stop the flow so that I could get from level to level. I could see Joe tensing up. It's difficult to have to ask people to allow what they should offer. But he did it keeping good spirits.
I kept trying not to notice people's annoyance at my passageway through a crowded marketplace. I could see the effect on Ruby, too, and it made me angry. I don't want my frustrations visited on her. I don't want her to ever have to think 'oh, if Dave just wasn't in a wheelchair.' And I'm afraid I lost it. We had waited for the elevator. The Center doesn't have enough of them, and it always surprises me that people, who have the option of the escalators just off to the side, line up for the elevators. I know that they have glass walls and the view is wonderful. But really.
We'd waited for several elevators and Ruby was getting tired. Finally, the elevator was clear and Joe and Ruby hopped on. A large family arrived and started pouring on before I could get on. I actually said, 'Hold on I was waiting here long time, my family is on ... can you let me get on.' They didn't. They got on and looked at me with defiance. Joe and Ruby had to step off. As the door closed, I said, with some venom, 'That was really, rude and really, really, mean.' Ruby stood there trying not to cry. We had to explain to her, because children take on themselves what they don't deserve, that the reason we didn't get on was because they jumped on ahead of me. She actually thought it was because she took up too much space.
My heart broke as we comforted her. By the time the next elevator came, we got on easily. It turned out a fellow had seen what happened and he stood guard ensuring we could get on. We thanked him, he spoke to us with an accent so heavy it was hard to understand, but his eyes ... his eyes we all understood. They were almost militantly kind.
Later when Ruby talked about the elevator we reminded her of the man who held people back so we could get on. That's what we want her to remember. Not my anger. Not the reason for my anger. She's five. She's our guest. She's here to have a good time.
But I was exhausted by the time I got home.
I realized it took energy for me to be constantly patient. But that burden was just too much when barriers, physical and attitudinal, were placed on her tiny shoulders. That extra weight caused a small break in my heart.
I wonder, from other, is that true for you too ... it's easier to bear these things when it's just you - but when it affects those you love, it's tougher still. I'm guessing that's a fairly universal reaction. But I'd love to hear ...