I took Sweetie to school this past Thursday, but she was none too pleased about it (yes, she's started that again). She fought about it at home, but then seemed resigned to the fact of school during our car ride there. But as we parked the car, she really started in again about how she didn't want to be there.
She was crying a little and whining, and I was doing what I could to talk her into helping me out and going into the building with me. As we sat in the car - the two of us trying to stand by our own convictions - Sweetie finally seemed to come around. Her only concession?
Will you pick me up, Mommy?, she whined to me from her booster seat.
I can't pick you up, Sweetie. You know that.
No. Will you pick me up after?
Oh! Pick you up after school? No. Nana will pick you up. I've got to go to work.
That's it. That's my entire story. But for some reason I just thought that was very interesting that Sweetie, of course, knew exactly what she was talking about and was not trying to get me to do something out of my physical limitations. She legitimately thought I might be able to pick her up because, for the last month or so, I've had Tuesdays off. So I have been able to both take her and pick her up from school. I just couldn't that day. That's all.
If ever we're out and about as a family and I need to take a minute to sit down and rest - that's okay with Sweetie. She never questions why. She'll either sit quietly with me or she and her Daddy will go off ahead and I'll catch up in a minute.
If I happen to be too clumsy and fall down while puttering around my house (something that happens probably a bit more than for the physically able person), Sweetie will just look at me and offer up that...
I'll go get your stick, Mama, so that you don't fall down again.
In short - Sweetie just gets it.
On one of those occasions where I picked Sweetie up at school within the last month, one of her classmates did ask me why I had my walking stick, why I had those things on my legs, or some such related question that I've heard from a million and one other young children in my lifetime. I took the opportunity to politely and simply explain that I just needed a little more help walking around.
Sweetie was right next to me during this exchange, but yet she didn't flinch at the question. In fact it seemed as if she possibly didn't even hear the boy's inquiry. But I know my daughter better than that and I know that that girl hears just about everything (except those things you want her to hear, of course). So I'm guessing that she simply didn't care. She knows me. She's cool with my deal. So who cares what others say or think?
I'm thinking that once Sweetie gets into a more regulated school situation - around about kindergarten or 1st grade - once she's with kids that she'll likely go through several years of schooling with - then I might offer to the teacher(s) to come in as one of Sweetie's show and tell projects. I can introduce myself to the kids and tell them a little about spina bifda and why I wear what I wear and why I walk the way I do. If I take the time to get familiar with Sweetie's classmates, then they'll feel more comfortable with me whenever I'm around, maybe more comfortable with Sweetie, and with people who are a little "different" in general.
I don't know for sure yet, though. We'll have to see. I mean, if I do this for Sweetie's classmates, that experience may in fact be the first time Sweetie hears for herself exactly what I'm all about. It may do the opposite for Sweetie than what I hope it accomplishes with her friends. If I point out to Sweetie in such a "formal" situation what all my differences are, then she may in turn start to think of me as different. And Heaven knows I don't want to do that.
It's funny, isn't it? My talking to a bunch of able-bodied youngsters about what makes me tick - and, in fact, what we all still do have in common anyway - is the very situation that may point out to Sweetie that I am, indeed, different than other mommies out there. And it could make her uncomfortable.
I know I've said it before. This is pretty much an often recurring topic in my blog. But, nonetheless, I am Sweetie's "normal". Billy's mommy has blue eyes. Johnny's mom has diabetes. Annie's mommy is the CEO of a big company. And Sweetie's mommy wears leg braces and walks with a walking stick. It doesn't matter. It's all good. It is what it is.