One of my most frequent prayers for Finn is that he would be brave.
Sometimes I forget this prayer for myself. I’m kind of a weenie, to be honest.
When it comes to Finn’s disability, birthday parties and playgrounds terrify me. I get ultra protective and conscious of how people (mostly kids) respond to him and his differences. I wait for the whispers and comments and questions, hoping I’ll know what to say to a curious toddler or parent.
This weekend (and last), I decided to try be brave.
We let Finn have his wheelchair at our sweet friend, Navy’s second birthday party. He loved playing “b-ball” in their house, even on the carpet. Joey fielded a few questions with ease and Finn was remarkably hyper after a yummy piece of birthday cake. Holy sugar high! It’s amazing how much more confident Finn is in his chair. He has independence and freedom–two things every toddler wants.
We heard a rumor that a wheelchair accessible playground was being built in Norman. So after breakfast at Syrup (of course) on Friday, we drove around trying to find it. We tried four playgrounds. No such luck. All were sand or mulch-bottomed, not kind to wheels.
On Friday afternoon we Skyped with a class at Baylor. Our friend, Kelli, teaches a course for Recreation majors called Leisure Diversity and asked us to help answer some questions concerning disabilities. We discussed Spina Bifida, legal issues for disabled individuals, Finn’s physical therapy and any challenges or opportunities we believe he may face in the future, especially regarding recreation. Of course Finn had to perform a few donuts on the kitchen tile for the class’s enjoyment.
Saturday, we met Finn’s friend, Ryder, and his parents at a wheelchair accessible playground located at Lake Hefner in OKC.
Though Finn and Ryder were the only two in chairs, they had a blast riding around on the ramps, going down slides and zooming across the rubber (God bless it) flooring.
Ryder is four and also has Spina Bifida. I admire his parents so much. They are two years ahead of us on this road and so proactive, so involved and so un-phased by the stares and the comments directed at Ryder or Finn. The boys were quite the spectacle…and it helped my heart that Finn wasn’t the ONLY one on wheels.
We’ve never seen another kid in a wheelchair in Norman. Certainly not one like Finn. It feels very lonely.
I parked in front of church this morning…in a spot that’s not technically a spot. Don’t judge. We haven’t received our handicapped tag yet, Finn can’t wheel too far on his own, and I’m getting too pregnant to carry Finn’s wheelchair up the ten steps to the nursery. After coaxing him to wheel up the breezeway, onto the elevator and down a couple hallways, we finally made it to his class. The children’s wing of our church is difficult to get to for anyone, much less a child on wheels. Immediately following the service, Finn pushed himself into a room full of about 200 church members for a fellowship lunch. He loved the attention. I was a ball of nerves until Joey picked him up and put him in a high chair.
I have to remember that my attitude toward Finn’s disability will become his. I’ll get better. Braver. Less self-conscious for him. I just need some time–some more experience under my new momma belt. Thanks for your patience, friends.