Jackson has had his wheelchair for about a month now. It is much better than any of the strollers we have used over the last couple of years. It fits him well, he is sitting up straight, and his legs aren’t flailing around. It’s just a better support system for him. I am glad that we finally got it. Having said that, I’ll admit when we picked up the wheelchair and I saw Jackson in it for the first time it was a little shocking to me. I suppose no Mother is ever prepared to see her little child be confined to a wheelchair. It broke my heart a little. But my heartstrings aren’t as important as Jackson being able to get around though so I just had to stop thinking that way and be thankful that we were able to get him a wheelchair. However, it has taken some time for me to get used to the looks we get now when we are out and about.
The day we got the wheelchair I took Jackson to Costco to get lunch. As we strolled into the store I became acutely aware of all the looks we were getting. It was probably mostly me feeling a little shocked about the whole thing, but there was definitely some looks. A few were the “What is wrong with that kid” look. A few were “Oh that poor child and mother” look. A few were just your regular smiles to greet someone. Most importantly I got a couple “He is so cute!” comments. As we sat down to eat I was feeling a little shaky about it. Then my neighbors saw us and came over to say hi. I told them we just got the wheelchair and were getting some looks. Their response was “Who cares?” They were right. Who cares? It was perfect timing to remind me that Jackson is the one that matters, not the strangers who we pass by.
A few days later Jackson and I were in Kohl’s returning an item. As we stood in line at the Customer Service desk a little girl, who was probably about 5 years old, and her grandma walked by. I heard her say to her grandma in a sad little voice “Oh look he doesn’t have legs.” The grandma quickly told her to be quiet and started to walk away. For a brief moment I thought about just letting them go, but then I thought I should say something, anything that would give Jackson a voice to be heard and maybe understood. So I said “He has legs, see? He just doesn’t know how to use them.” They stopped and looked at Jackson. The little girl asked me “Why?” I told her Jackson was born with a bad brain and so not all of his body could move right. She tilted her head and gave me perhaps the saddest look I have ever seen from a child. Then she asked “Will he be okay?” I said “Yes, he will be okay. He is happy, loves ice cream and doesn’t care if he legs don’t work right.” She smiled at Jackson and the grandma smiled at me and they were gone. I don’t know if that little exchange will have an effect on a 5 year old but it did on me. It felt really good to let someone know that Jackson is a person too even though he is in a wheelchair. He’s just a kid who gets around on wheels instead of legs.
I recently saw a quote that is another motto I need to adopt. “Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it.” (Charles Swindoll) That pesky 90% is what sends me into tailspins of sorrow, anger and questioning. I need to stop reacting to all of these little life events with Jackson and just start living my life with Jackson. Lately, I feel like I am getting that message. It’s a journey I will probably be on for a long time. Lucky for me I have the best little companion to keep me company. Jackson.