Sadie is an interesting kid. She knows her own mind. She makes her own decisions. She will, at all costs, want to do something she's seen done once, on her own, without help. Discernment is one of her gifts, if she tries something, realizes she can't do it, she will, without hesitation, ask for assistance. But for her, it's really important that she be the one asking. I like this about her.
We left our apartment building and Sadie had determined that she was going to push the grocery cart, carrying all sorts of stuff, down the hallway, down the elevator and out to the car. It was just she and I, the others were going to follow. We both didn't feel like waiting for everyone to be ready, she had her shoes on, I had my power chair amped up Out we went.
When we got to the lobby we found it relatively full. One elevator was on service, another was down, which left only one working. It was miraculous that it came to us empty. We got to the door. Sadie said she would take the cart through first. Sadie is a little girl, she's five years old. She pushed at the door, got it open a bit, an accomplishment because it's heavy, and then she started pulling at the cart. It was half way through. I could see that Sadie was smelling victory.
She was having a good time.
She was not frustrated.
More importantly, she did not ask for help.
I got where Sadie was coming from. I struggled and struggled to learn how to get through that same door in my manual chair. It was important to me to develop this skill. In an emergency, I might really need it. Sadie wasn't thinking about emergencies of course, she was thinking about the "I DID IT ALL BY MYSELF!!" moment.
Glancing over at the small crowd in the lobby waiting for an elevator. Half were watching the elevators slow progress down, the others were watching Sadie. Two women were glaring at me, I saw them, understood what they were thinking and said simply, "She likes to do things on her own."
I should have kept my mouth shut.
My explanation spurred one of them to action, "She needs help, can't you see that!!!"
I did see Sadie and, no she didn't need help, she needed time.
I understood this. Part of my problem with learning how to do those exact same doors was the fact that people wouldn't give me time to do it. People would see me going out the doors, it involves intricate moves, well timed, and they would imagine I was frustrated. They would imagine that they were the solution to a problem that I actually didn't have. When they'd come to help, I'd have to say, "I'm trying to learn to do this on my own." That, by the way, never worked.
When the woman darted towards Sadie, she was almost done, three out of the four tires were out. The door was pushed wide enough for her to now get it out. I rushed towards the woman, got there, blocking her, I said, "Please, please, let her do it on her own. It's important to her." There was no time for me to explain that as a disabled person, I've really learned about help, when it's wanted when it's not. I've learned how unwanted help can hinder learning and damage self esteem. Being disabled gives life lessons just like paying attention can give you life lessons.
She spat at me, angry for a reason I couldn't understand, "I can't believe you would sit on your ass and not help that kid."
I wanted to scream, "I AM HELPING HER, SOMETIMES DOING NOTHING IS THE ONLY HELP SOMEONE WANTS." She leaned over me, actually bringing her body in contact with mine, and pushed at the door. It flew open and Sadie, thank heavens, didn't fall when the door suddenly swung away from her.
She got the cart out.
She looked angrily at the woman but didn't say anything to her, she said to me, teary voiced, "I almost got it out by myself."
"I know sweetie," I said.
Behind me, I heard the woman would had given unwanted help, who had violated my space in a serious way, say to her friend, "Men shouldn't be allowed any where near children."
Later, at the car, Sadie asked, "Why did she say that? You and Joe and Daddy take good care of me."
"I don't know, Sadie, I don't know."