Sunday, September 02, 2012


Such a big, big world they live in.

Such a big world.

We had a family trip planned over to Toronto Islands which began with a ride on Wheel Trans. The girls, Ruby and Sadie, LOVE Wheel Trans. They love the big windows on the bus, they love the exclusive nature of the service, they think it's really, really cool. This time we stopped an picked up a fellow with a fairly significant disability who was loaded on beside me and hummed and rocked in his chair as we drove down towards the lake. Ruby and Sadie picked up on this and began to sing songs on the bus as we played the "Guess the number of puppy dogs we will see from here to when we stop" game.

Once on the Island we were surrounded by Toronto in all it's multicultural glory. It was evident that we were in one of the worlds most culturally diverse cities. We move among and with people of varying faiths, varying colours and varying customs. Burkas, saris and turbans accompanied different languages and coolers carrying even cooler food. Ruby and Sadie shared rides with kids from around the world, all of them simply excited to be there, all of them simply having fun.

At one point, waiting for them to go on the log ride, there was a natural grouping of wheelchair and scooter using grandparent types all gathered to watch their kids and their kids kids make their way through the serpentine line up to get in the log that would take them up the flume and then roller coaster them down into a huge splash at the bottom. We all chatted, first with the 'which ones are yours' conversations and then we talked about scooters and wheelchairs and which brand is the best. We chatted about accessibility and about making our way through the crowds. All of the kids of the kids when they came around a corner in the line up and saw all of us gathered there, simply waved.

These kids are growing up in such a big, big world. A couple of gay dads with a toddler and an energetic 6 year old girl were simply part of the mix. They were noticed by parents but not by kids, they were just there. All of us, just there.

Like we should be.

Ruby and Sadie talked about everything but the people around them. Ruby was really taken with a "duck that was as big as a goose but was still a duck," Sadie kept having difficult deciding if she wanted to ride with me on my chair or with Joe on the scooter. They simply existed in a world of vast differences as if a world of vast differences wasn't different at all.

Such a big, big world they live in.

I mentioned this to a friend on the phone who said, jokingly, "maybe it will give them a bigger heart." After chatting some more we both agreed that, no, they wouldn't end up with a bigger heart, they will just be using more of the one we all have.

I'm glad, really glad, to see two little girls who's hearts get to echo in such a big, big world.


Anonymous said...

Ahhh...for the sweet existance of having the choice to ride on the chair or the scooter. To love big windows, and big ducks - and to see through eyes that see wonder - not wonderdering what is "wrong" with others. Bless them!

John R. said...

I wonder why Canada does so well at the "melting pot" idea and the United States struggles? The description of the multi-cultural Toronto in which Sadie and Ruby are being raised made me inspired but sad as well. As much as we in the United States "claim" freedom and justice awaits all who enter our borders, I know very differently. Not only for people of different ethnic, religious and racial background but in particular disability is so unaccepted or tokenized.

In fact, this weekend the United States is celebrating Labor Day. We take the last weekend in summer to appreciate the Labor movement in the country. Jerry Lewis will be hosting his God-AWFUL telethon and once again will spend 36 hours with many token Jerry's Kids. He will work to pity and marginalize kids with significant disabilities as opposed to offer pride and celebration about being born as who they are. I always hated the telethon. But this part of our culture in the US is a symptom of something that may be absent from your Canadian culture. I think Canadians may just have a deeper cultural appreciation for difference and diversity and less contempt? I know there are problems but your society seems to handle them better.??? I don't know....please forgive my rant and I hope it did not spoil the nice story you shared.... Glad that all of you had a wonderful time!!

Tamara said...

Given the political climate in the US right now, we feel less like a melting pot than I ever remember. But I think you're wrong on one point, John. Jerry Lewis was out of the telethon last year and isn't coming back this year. I think it's going to be a much shorter event this year, but not sure if it's going to change its disgusting approach to fundraising. I might tune in to see, though. Have never watched much of it.

Mandassassin said...

@John R
I've always thought that the different dominant metaphors used by the US and Canada to describe diversity were rather telling of the thought processes behind the,. In the USian 'melting pot' metaphor, everyone is changing, melding into one homogenous soup. In the Canadian 'mosaic', everyone retains their uniqueness, while staying side by side harmoniously to create a beautiful whole. Assimilation vs. coexistence.

Anonymous said...

I took a course on Multi-culturalism and health care - and the instructor was quite clear, in fact insisting, that we, in Canada, are not - nor want to be - a melting pot. The word used was mosaic as John R said. I think that indeed is the difference.

Melting pot puts everyone together and stirs up. This is an attempt to make all the same. The idea is nice - equality - but in reality, just like a stew, some bits float to the top and other sink to the bottom. The only distinction offered is being famous or infamous.

The mosiac allows each individual "piece" shine. Each person or group is distinct and beautiful and appreciated for their differences. Together we make something beautiful.

I'm so glad the girls get to experience the Canadian mosiaic.