Thursday, August 16, 2012

Handprints on the TV - A Milestone In A Family With Disabilities

We reached another milestone today. Handprints on the TV screen. I’ve been unknowingly waiting for this one and I couldn’t be more excited than if the boy had recited the alphabet today at 10 months old!


One day, when the girl was 9 years old, we came home from the mall or somewhere and were “unwrapping”. That’s when we remove the chest harness, unbutton and remove the coat, unwind the scarf, strip off the sweater and take off the shoes. It’s a process as many of you well know! We were doing this in the dining room and I dropped her shoes in the corner, out of the way of her wheelchair so it wouldn’t block our path. I gave her a snack and took her to her room to stretch out in her bed and watch some TV. The unwrapping can take up to 10 minutes, depending on how cooperative the girl is and how many layers I need to peel off of myself, and the snack about another 15. Getting home from the mall can be exhausting!

Innocent yet mocking
When I got back to the dining room to clean up the snack mess I noticed her cute little black Mary Jane’s sitting in the corner of the room. Suddenly, the room shrunk to the tiny spot they took up and I was paralyzed. I remember thinking specifically, “Those shoes could be anybody’s shoes.” Walking up to my main door, anybody visiting my home would know immediately that there was somebody in this house that needed some assistance due to the wheelchair ramp. Other clues could be the wheelchair accessible van in the driveway; once inside, the backup manual wheelchair that is usually rolling from room to room with no permanent storage spot; the communication device that’s almost always on the dining room table; the roll-in shower; the bed rails...

But these shoes – these she wore without her orthotics (leg braces) so they were just regular ol’ shoes. Those shiny little shoes, so innocently sitting there. Mocking me with a deceitful beauty. It occurred to me that nobody could tell that their owner was disabled. They could have belonged to a blonde who had a thing for tiaras; the winner of last year’s Suffolk County Spelling Bee; the star of Abby Lee Miller’s Dance Company. That last thought was the one that froze me. My throat closed up and my chest tightened and they just sneered at me, filling my head with thoughts of little girls tapping, twirling, hell, just WALKING in them. But the soles of these were brand spanking new. They had been worn at least a dozen times yet not a scuff, not a scratch, not a scrape on them. They belonged to a little girl who did not tap nor twirl.


My boy gives his mother the privilege of living through the things that most moms cringe at. I know a mom who is so anal about handprints that she wipes her microwave free from said prints several times a day! When her children were little, like 3 or 4, she would clean up their room WHILE they were still playing with their toys. Me? I’m going to leave the prints up for a while. When the TV is off, I like walking past it and seeing the proof that there is an adorable little boy in this home who is going to grow up to run, jump and yes, walk.