Little kids are hilarious. If you listen to what they say, you cannot help but laugh. I especially love to listen to kids ask their parent questions about Maggie.
After this many years of pushing her around in public I recognize the curious tilt of the head of a 3 year old seeing Maggie and her gear. If its possible and not obvious or intrusive, I try to hear what they have to say. Often it will be why is she in that chair? Or what happened to her? Moms will generally just tell them it’s a wheelchair and she can’t walk of something equally straightforward. Once in a while the adults response makes me cringe, but not usually. The kids questions never make me cringe. They are kids. They are learning. How will they learn if they don’t ask?
Last week Maggie and I walked all over the place doing errands. I didn’t want to take the car because all the people attending the huge concert in Golden Gate Park were parking in my neighborhood. Any time saved by driving to do my errands would be used tenfold looking for parking upon our return. We walked to the pharmacy, the grocery store and the bakery. There were a lot of bags hanging off the chair.
As we left the bakery, I saw a mom with two little boys, maybe three and four years old. The little one looked at Maggie for a minute and then cocked his head. I slowed down because I knew he had questions. I wondered if it would be about Maggie, the computer attached to the front of the chair, or all the bags hanging off the back It was none of these. He turned to his mom and announced loudly,
“Now that has a lot of wheels. There’s a front one and a back one and a front one and a back one.”
I tried not to laugh. It was a perfect observation . Maggie Schmaggie! Equipment? who cares? This baby had WHEELS!
The mom’s response was equally perfect. Without missing a beat she found a “teachable moment.” She said, “and how many is that?” He sighed and said in a quite exasperated manner, “I don’t know.” Mom: “Well, count them.” Boy (clearly tired of teachable moments): “I already did, there’s a front one and a back one and a front one and a back one.”
I wanted to turn around and high five both mom and boy, but I did not even make eye contact. I did not want to spoil this perfect interaction.