So… I am at the kid’s school yesterday ( and the day before and two days before that) standing in the foyer which is directly across from Special Services – an office no one notices unless you need it. I am chatting with my friend and I look into the doorway and see a wheelchair. This is not all that unusual, but it caught my eye because it was blue. I looked at it and thought, hmm, that’s a small blue wheelchair, must be for a little kid. So strange that there is a kid here at school that little who would need a wheelchair. I wonder what is wrong with him?
I kept talking, and then… I realized, “hey brilliant one” that’s Max’s wheelchair. Oh yeah… my son, my little child is the one who needs the wheelchair. I actually started laughing out loud. Laughing out loud to oneself is never a good sign- by the way- in case you are wondering about your own mental stability.
I couldn’t believe that I actually forgot that we are the only people in the entire school who have a child who uses a wheelchair. I thought that maybe, just maybe for one second – someone else could have that dubious honor. No such luck, it has a hanging tag on it that says, “Max Rubin.”
As the day goes on, Sophie comes home for like the 4th day in a row in a bad mood. She has been out of sorts and grumpy and moody. I thought it was because she finally got her ears pierced so she no longer has to behave and butter us up – but, it turns out to be more than just the aftermath of getting what you want and realizing what next? Turns out, a boy from school whom we have known forever, a nice kid, good family, said the following to Sophie on the playground, “Your brother is weird, he can’t do anything, he can’t even walk.”
To which she replied……………..
She had no idea what to say, she felt hurt and angry and scared and embarrassed and felt the weight of the world on her skinny little shoulders. She finally told me what has been bothering her and that combined with a few other girl friend things ( seems 4th grade girls have a very difficult time realizing that its ok to have more than one friend at one time) completely lost it. The thing that bothered her the absolute most was this this boy has a disabled sister. She was most of all, shocked to her core, that he of all people just didn’t get it. My 9 year old girl has a sense of justice about her so not only was what he said hurtful, it came from an unexpected source.
She has been struggling with all of this since Max started going to her school. She is afraid that kids won’t want to be her friend because they might think she is weird or has something wrong with her too. She can’t seem to reconcile this with the fact that Max has more friends than all of us combined. On the other hand, she feels protective and is terrified that someone will say something mean to him and hurt his feelings. She can’t stand him most of the time but she does love him. She thinks we are the “weird” family. Instead of going all pollyana on her, I cried too. I told her that sometimes I feel the same ways she does and that instead of being afraid, I have decided to just be as honest as I can all the time and find my strength to show the world how great we are doing – and that we are not the “weird” family. I wanted to say, “trust me, there are way weirder families around” but I was concerned that she might ask me which ones, and I would have to tell her – since it was a big talk about honesty and all…
I wish I could just inject some courage into her, just feed her some of the independence that only comes with living far longer than she has. I wish I could just show her that within her she has powers and that she has survived far more than she knows. She is no ordinary child.
Should I say something to the boy’s mother? Should I let it go?