Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Picture This ...

Ruby was sitting doing her homework. She works intently, so intently that I become curious as to what it is that she is working on. I ask her what the project is, seeing pencils of a variety of colours being used. She picks up the paper and shows me. I see a big puzzle with several pieces, on several of the pieces she's drawn an object.

She explains to me that she is to draw things on the puzzle pieces that are things she likes, things about her, things that matter to her. I'm not sure what the assignment is supposed to do, but I like it. I like it when children, or anyone actually, is encouraged to be introspective. To spend time thinking about who we are, what we like and what matters to us is not wasted time. In childhood, at least, this can be assigned, for adults this is homework that we can easily replace with other, less challenging, chores.

I let her go about the assignment and eventually she announces, with relief, that she is done. I ask her if I can see it, telling her that the information on the puzzle is kind of private and if she doesn't want to share it it's okay with me. She thinks for a second and says, "No, it's okay, you can see it." The paper gets handed over.

I'm obviously not going to go over the content of the puzzle because, as stated, it's private. But I will share one that Ruby and I talked about. Up in one corner Ruby has drawn a wheelchair. I was surprised to see it there. I asked her, again letting her know that she doesn't have to answer, why she drew a wheelchair.

She said, as if explaining to a teacher, "My friend Dave uses a wheelchair. His wheelchairs get him around to places with us."

We chatted for a little bit and I told her that I really liked the drawing and what it meant to her, I also told her that that's what the wheelchair means to me too.

It doesn't confine.

It gets me around to places with people I love.

Liberation, on wheels.

I know this is true, I've seen the picture.


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

You're turning me into a bit of an activist.

When people use 'wheelchair-bound,' I suggest they use 'wheelchair-enabled.'

Last night when I made a rare excursion to get daughter who is sick some medicine and some tissues with cream in them for her nose, I went to our local 24-hour pharmacy, and made a point of telling the people behind the counter (manager wasn't there) that when they put a big seasonal items basket in the aisle, they might as well have made the WHOLE aisle the width of the remaining space, and my walker and I didn't fit, and were knocking things off the shelves to get by.

So many inaccessible things. Maybe Ruby's generation will do better, but only if ours speaks up. We don't want the kids to have to do ALL the work.

Unknown said...

Ruby is a wise child...Clairesmum

tragicsandwich said...

I think I've probably made this comment here before, but at the risk of repeating myself:

Years ago, my mother started using a wheelchair pretty much any time she left the house. One of my friends said, "Is it sad to see your mom in a wheelchair?"

I answered, "No. It was sad to see her get depressed because it was so hard for her to get out and do things. The wheelchair lets her get out and about."

It had never occurred to me that the sight of my mother in a wheelchair would make me sad. To me, it was a tool, not a hindrance. It helped her live her life. What on earth was there to be sad about?

She died in 2002. I'm sad about that. But I was never sad about the fact that she used a wheelchair.