As I mentioned previously, boy number two has a physical disability and this effects him episodically. On some days he finds walking impossible and on many days he gets fatigued very quickly so is again unable to walk much. There are also times when he has no concept of danger awareness and needs help with that and so sitting down is a good option! He also gets overwhelmed by new and stimulating situations, and once again sitting down in a safe pushchair is a good option for that.
Up until the age of fourish he was able to use our regular pushchair whenever he needed to. Towards the age of four (and he is tall for his age) he looked as any other child does sitting in a pushchair. I guess some people may have commented to themselves that he was a big boy to be in a pushchair. Perhaps assuming that we were indulgent parents, giving in to a child’s demands. Possibly in the same way as you yourself may judge another parent when you see a child having something or doing something that you would not do or have for your own child.
Comparing ourselves to others and using others actions to judge our own decision making is a natural part of human nature. However- when you are, or feel that you are on the receiving end of this in a negative fashion it can be a difficult pill to swallow.
Back to the point of him sitting in a pushchair circa the age of four… Whilst sitting in said pushchair, he was not at first glance different to any other child (apart from perhaps appearing to be a ‘big boy’ to be sitting in it). During one of his physio and occupational therapy appointments I was asked about his general mobility and the discussion around him outgrowing his pushchair was raised. A quick ‘oh that’s no trouble, we will refer him to wheelchair services to get an adapted pushchair’ was thrown in and the referral was made.
My initial reaction to this was one of feeing pleased, a second reaction was as it has been many times over, that the NHS staff have been absolutely amazing with him and any appointment or referral that has been needed has been made without fuss or frustration. So I looked forward to him being able to use a pushchair that was the right size for him and pushing something that he was comfortable sitting in.
A few weeks passed and we took delivery of a shiny new mobility pushchair. I was happy to take him on the journey to preschool using the pushchair. So off we went out of the door, walking on our lane towards the road and I was feeling pleased for him, and happy with the new wheels.
And then as we turned onto the main walk through the village I felt a swelling in my throat and a burning in my eyes. I was feeling emotional and upset at walking along pushing my son in this pushchair. I was somewhat confused at myself. I had been pleased two seconds ago, now I felt sad. What was happening??!
I swallowed the lump in my throat, took a deep breath and carried on with my usual chat with boy number two on the way to preschool. Then the walk into preschool and coming eye to eye with others and the new pushchair time had come. Return of afore mentioned lump in throat… As it goes, all was fine. Preschool were pleased to see and be able to use the new wheels. I did the usual settling in and walked home. All the while trying to take stock of my reaction to the new wheels situation.
My conclusion was this…
I was very surprised by my own reaction. Considering my job, I thought that I was completely accepting of disability, and advocate for young people in a similar position. It turns out that in that moment, I was not completely accepting. I think perhaps it related to something about the permanence and the publicity of the disability. Seeing him in the pushchair may mean that there is instant recognition that he is ‘different’ in some way. I am shaking my head at myself as so often I want nothing more than for people to accept and understand him and actually realise that he is different, yet in that moment I wanted nothing of the sort. Tricky little tricksters these emotions!
I am glad to say that the pragmatist in me has prevailed the majority of the time and the wheels are simply a part of our daily life and nothing more than that.
So the new pushchair tale was my first big lesson in acceptance of son number 2 being different, and that difference being long term. In time I will come to more experiences relating to the ongoing journey of acceptance.