High School: I Didn't Mean To.

WHS was the kind of school where no kid would ever get lost in the shuffle. The school was tiny and the population of students inside even tinier. It was safe, cozy, New England style 'quaint,' the janitors recognized every face, and the librarian knew which forgetful teenager had yet to return which book. In a large binder in the Attendance Office, anyone could easily look up any student's schedule and find out where s/he was supposed to be. Only juniors and seniors were allowed off campus during their 90min 'free blocks' and even then you had to have signed parental permission. It wasn't just a school where everyone knew who everyone was, you could technically also know where everyone was.

Except for this one time when I was not to be found upstairs chatting up the librarian: 

It was my birthday and I was a senior. My friend K and I happened to share a free block and in honor of my birthday she offered to buy me ice cream from the cafeteria vending machine. In the time it took for me to choose between an Orange Creamsicle or a Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwich she decided 
"these ice cream options suck, I can go pick up some ice cream for you in Waltham! It's your birthday, you should have real ice cream." 
"But won't it be all melted by the time you get back?" I asked her. We looked at each other and we knew what was going to happen. We knew what had to happen. 

Yes, I knew I had brittle bones. I knew that my parents would murder me if they knew I was going to ride in a teenage driver's car. And I knew I could get into a lot of trouble if we were caught, and I'm sure some part of me knew that it would be easy for me to get caught -- I mean, how long would it take for this tiny school to realize the only kid in the wheelchair had vanished? But things like liability, getting injured, car accidents, liability, liability, and liability simply did not exist in this Mission for Birthday Ice Cream. 
And besides, I wanted to. In my mind Waltham was only a 10 min drive away and we would be back in a jiffy, I could climb back into my wheelchair and nothing would happen! 

So K and I found our friend A who we tasked with the job of watching my electric wheelchair (it was unfoldable and so could not fit into her car). She pulled her little two seater to the front of the school, I slid into the passenger side, our friend A drove my wheelchair into some bushes by the front of the school and off we went. As we pulled out of the school driveway I couldn't believe that we had actually managed to pull it off! At that point I hadn't been in many of my friends' rides yet so I was still marveling at the fact that I could only see the upper half of trees and telephone poles. K looked over at me and we just grinned at each other.

"This is so awesome! I hope we don't get caught. We could get into some serious shit" I said. 
"Whatever, I'm sure you won't get in trouble anyway. It's you, Sandy. They can't yell at you! I'm sure the principal has a lot more idiots to deal with than us getting you birthday ice cream." 
Minutes later she pulled into parking spot and asked me what flavor I wanted, in my sudden paranoia for getting caught I replied "just vanilla is fine" -- suddenly I wanted to get back to the school as quickly as possible. K came out with a brown paper bag and a large scoop of vanilla fro yo inside, neither of us spoke as I gobbled it down - both because it was good and because I was nervous. 
Would we get caught? What would happen? Wait -- I didn't actually think about how I would be able to climb out of the car and into my  wheelchair. Was K right? They couldn't actually yell at me right? I was a good kid! 

On the way back K's cell rang and when she hung up she looked at me,
"Sooo.. that was A, and he said that the nurse found him standing next to your empty wheelchair. And he told her where we went. Apparently she wants us both in her office like ASAP." I went silent and groaned to myself, actually I wasn't concerned with getting in trouble with the school so much as how would I explain this to my parents? They would NEVER understand that I just wanted to go out for ice cream. This wouldn't be a problem if they had just signed that stupid permission slip, everyone else's parents had signed it!! 
When we got back to the high school I somehow managed to climb back into my wheelchair, we disposed of the ice cream and went into the nurse's office.

"YOU TWO ARE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE!" She hissed at us. K and I just looked at each other and shrugged. 
"K has senior privileges, but Sandy your parents never signed the permission slip. There could be a lot of liability issues if something had gone wrong!" 
"I didn't mean to" was all I could blurt out. 
"But it's her birthday! We just went out for some ice cream..." K added for me.
"Oh, well... if it's your birthday. I can't get mad at you for that I guess. But you MUST promise me to NEVER do this again! I'm serious! The next time this happens I'm going to give you both Saturday school, and you'll have to come in Saturday morning and sit in the cafeteria for 4 hours." 

After some more threatening and some more "don't ever do again's" we left the nurse's office and went about the rest of the school day. At the end of the day when I went to go put my hearing-aids and walkie-talkie back, the school nurse pulled me aside and said: 
"You know, I'm actually proud of you for breaking the rules. You don't do that enough. It's good that you learned how to do something on your own, and learned how to have fun in the process. After you two left I actually laughed at what you guys had done, I know you don't understand this now but this is healthy behavior for you."  

You won't ever mean to... but:
  • Of course no kid ever INTENDS to get hurt in the process of doing something fun, but it's important to realize that because we have O.I. the possibility is always...never too far
  • As we get older, our natural instinct is to gain more independence, and just as naturally our parents and other adults will rush to maintain our safety. Though this will be annoying we should try to remember that their intentions are good at heart
  • And when it gets to the point of seeming to be 'unfairly' annoying -- parents/adults should realize that OI'ers who are teenagers will be teenagers first and an OI'er second. The mentality is no different than any other teenager without OI! With that said, buttons are meant to be pushed and rules meant to be broken
  • In my life experience I have found that for every one adult who has made every effort to add more to my limitations and clamp down on my freedom/independence - I have been able to find two more adults and friends who will help me shatter those restraints
  • Even though nothing happened in this incident, and even though the school nurse didn't 'tell on me' and report me to the principal, I was smart enough to realize that I probably shouldn't tempt fate and try the stunt again. This only meant that I now knew it was possible for me to get in and out of my friends' cars without help and that it was another normal thing that I was capable of doing on my own 

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