Relating to (able-bodied) Parents

There is a saying about how the bond between parent and child is strong, unbreakable, the closest. While my parents have no idea this blog exists, and talking about "what it feels like to be the only one.." wasn't exactly dinner table conversation (or any kind of conversation ever) - I believe that bond is true for me. This reflects not just the wholly dynamic and complex relationship between my parents and I, but goes to show that the differences in my genes isn't enough to get in the way of anything.

This doesn't mean that there were not some rough moments from my perspective as the child of able-bodied parents. There were definitely incidents that I felt isolated, times that when I look back are cringe-worthy and likeohmygawd so awkward.

I remember days of trying to clack-clack around in my mom's high heels in my walker. The plastic of my leg braces were wedged into the very tops of those points, where my mom's toes would come together snugly my toes remained rigid. The sides of the brace's plastic foot piece jutted out against the sides of her shoes, it was like my feet were rectangular blocks. It wasn't just that when I wore them the back of her heels still had room to easily fit a beanie baby or two, or that I wobbled precariously to the point where I just slid along inch by inch. My mom didn't have the experience of trying to look lady-like while wearing braces. And no matter how many reassuring words she could offer just didn't fill in that gap - it wasn't something that I recognized at that point, but it is something that I realize now.

Then there were those times when I would be plopped into the carseat to go run an errand with them: the bank to deposit a check, to the grocery store to grab that forgotten item, to the library to drop off books for return - quick errands that lasted no more than ten minutes. Instead of taking me out of the carseat, getting the wheelchair out.. I would remain in the carseat. "Read your book, I'll be out very quickly." And I don't remember if it was ever told to me directly, or if I just mistakenly overheard one of my parents saying: "it's okay if we leave Sandy alone somewhere for a few minutes, no one is going to kidnap a child who uses a wheelchair.. too much trouble." I didn't ask why or how come. To me it all made sense, and there was definitely a part of me that was glad for this logic! How come someone would potentially kidnap my younger brother and not me? How come not everyone knows how to fold and unfold a wheelchair? How come I would be too much trouble for a kidnapper? None of these questions, in my mind, really needed to be asked. I just knew the answers from the way my parents acted.

It took multiple instances of when I would be sent to lunch detention, and when my middle school guidance counselor would call home to say something like: "Sandy keeps getting away from her aide..." It wasn't until I simply ignored my aide for a good two months that my parents realized that unlike my older brother I was not getting teased, and I didn't feel like a 'loser,' and I wasn't embarrassed because I was a dork or a "teacher's pet." My parents went through their own days of classroom teasing but they couldn't tell me to stand up to my bully, were unable to tell me "go talk to the teacher.." because they had never experienced the awkwardness involved between a thirteen year-old girl and an aide breathing down her neck. The larger issue here is my parents weren't naturally able to help me figure out how much help is too much, and how to ask adults I "depended" on for space and boundaries. It was decided through a series of IEP meetings and meetings about "responsibility" in my guidance counselor's office that sorted everything out.

There are lots of other times that I can recall as well. The thing is that even though my parents were not able to give me first-person insight on "what it's like..." that is often not what's necessarily important, or what I needed most in those instances. What I needed most (and have always needed) is to know that my parents were always there to guide me, to help, to support, to explore options, and to just try to understand.

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