The breakfast area was full. Joe and I, in an effort to be flexible - which can be dangerous at our age, changed our usual routine to have a much later repast. Mike and family eat later when on vacation than our usual 6:30AM meal. But, what's the point of spending time together if you aren't spending time together? Yesterday was the last day for the others though Joe and I would be staying on. Most of the people who were here during the week had left and there were all new eyes in the breakfast area.
We managed to grab a table that was right by the toaster and almost in the passageway between two seating areas. Just as we took our seat all the others arrived. Ruby looked just up and was rubbing her eyes as she took her seat. She is too young to notice others notice us and for this I am thankful. She is used to me, my size and my disability. More than that she thinks wheelchairs are way, way cool.
We chatted as we had breakfast. I made Ruby my famous 'peanut butter roll up.' It's a slice of bread slathered over with peanut butter and then topped with 'red' jam, once the jam is on, simply roll up. Jam falls out of both ends so you have to constantly lick jam off the ends and your hands and your arms and wipe it off the floor. Ruby thinks it's fun food.
When done Ruby was getting fidgety and wanted to wander outside where it was warmer. I agreed that it was pretty cold in the air conditioning and Joe and I prepared to go outside with her and allow her parents and Sadie to finish their breakfast without 'nearly four year old' discussions. I pulled away from the table and Ruby noticed that I'd taken the legs off the chair when I pulled into breakfast.
'I'll get the legs,' she said loudly. Loud enough to re-engage the stares of strangers. I quietly smiled as I watched them watch her get first one leg and then the other, stopping to put each leg onto the chair with quick expert movements. She'd learned to do that on this vacation and loved the responsibility and the feeling of helping. Let's be clear, it isn't easy to put these things on. There are two holes which each need to be lined up with the 'thingy' that they go over. Then the leg needs to be swung and locked into place. Finally the footplate is pushed down and into place.
Ruby with ease does each of them in only seconds. The legs are heavy so she needs to hold them with two hands and then place the holes over the aforementioned thingy. Her little tongue sticks out as she concentrates. The eyes watched her move around the chair getting it ready for me. They watched her comfortable with the chair, with me, with the process of making me mobile. They watched someone who has the ability to help for the sheer joy of helping, someone who sees helping as something that enhances her without diminishing my value. To her I am not 'other', I'm just 'another'.
Someone unused to the concept of bigotry.
Once again - little Ruby is a treasure. I'm glad you have her in your life. Thank you for sharing her with us.
I truly love the joy and innocence of children. Like Sunshine and Shadows said, Ruby is a treasure.
I teach middle school and my students are much the same. Even the ones that I have locked horns with will pick up something I drop or help me with the door. In all my 19 years of teaching, I've only had one or two intentionally take advantage of my disability.
My nieces and nephews, however, treat me with the same level of annoyance that they reserve for their parents. If I am holding up the party due to accessibility or some other problem, they rolled her eyes and sigh just as they do when their mother is dithering or their father is finishing up a task before driving everyone for ice cream.
I take this as a compliment. I'm not someone special in special circumstances. I am just another old person screwing with their schedule and social life.
Four is one of my favorite ages. Their vocabularies are usually solid enough for real conversation, they're deep into learning that things don't always have to be the same way everytime [ie. changes don't meant the world will blow up], they're getting a more firm grasp on social behaviours (less the "me and my world" of 2 & 3 and more "me and everyone/thing in my world") and their imaginations are running more wild than ever. Four year olds are a blast.
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