He was sitting in what may have been the smallest wheelchair I've ever seen. I didn't see him at first because his mother had him tucked into a space in the aisle when I rocketed onto the subway. Joe and I were on our way home and had chosen to take transit. Once on, I was trying to find, on a crowded car, a place where I could stop and not be in the way of the door. It was a bit of a struggle but with people moving and my fine motor skills developed specifically for the power chair in situations like this, I managed. Once settled, I noticed him. He was peeking around his mother's legs and was eyeing my chair. It was then that I noticed his.
I loved the idea that here this kid was, probably not yet six, and riding the subway in Toronto. I remember years ago carrying a young woman friend our ours down a set of stairs that the Wellesley station, Joe on one side of her chair and me on the other. She'd never been on the subway and we, young and impetuous, all decided to change that fact. She loved the experience. We loved carrying her back up a lot less than we did carrying her down. We considered what we had done, all of us, as an act of rebellion and protest, but, in reality, it was just fun. Even though it was primarily 'just fun' we all knew, deeply, that the experience of inaccessibility simply wasn't 'fun'.
And here, years later, is this kid is riding the subway. With his mom. Going somewhere as part of the crowd. How cool is that? And, how cool, you might ask, is that mom for braving the crowds and getting on the subway.
Let me tell you how cool she was.
When they got to their stop, she got in position. She clearly was going have him get off the train backward. Good call since there is a bit of a gap and the front tires on the small chair looked tiny. When the door opened, she instructed him to take his breaks off.
He began to panic.
She didn't help.
"Take a breath and do what you need to do," she said.
He took a breath, released the breaks and they got off.
Take a breath and do what you need to do ... now that's something I need to remember.