You know what makes me sad?
Not the kind you're probably thinking of, the mean, ugly ones... but the ones I hear the most often. More often than not, I overhear people talking about how cute Steven's John Deere chair is, how funny his shirt's saying is (He has an extensive collection of t-shirts, as you'll see over time!) or just how sweet his smile is.
Come on over and say hi. Tell him. :) It's a shame to waste a perfectly good compliment, isn't it? I don't always have the chance to let you know I overheard and draw you into our conversation, so you'll have to speak up.
This brings up a subject some people freak out with nerves about... "What if my kid asks a rude question?"
The answer? We'll live.
I've seen mothers turn every shade of red, but a spontaneous, honest question sure beats a child being shushed or hurried away. Even if Steven's not feeling up to saying anything, I'll bail you out, I promise. All I ask is that you not nudge them forward to ask "What's wrong with his legs?" unless you won't mind me sending them back with instructions to go up to a relative and ask a personal and/or potentially dirty-sounding question in their outside voice at the Thanksgiving Dinner table.
*waiting for hate mail*
Seriously, bring them up... but to say hello and chat a little. Show them that a person in a chair is a person like any other by the way you act. I've got your back. Even if the Chick Magnet has his eye on a girl, or is in a hurry to go check out all the gadgets in electronics, he will still take a minute for the kids to check out his controller or show them how he can race. If he's having a day where he's not feeling up to questions, I'll give your little ones a nice, age-appropriate explanation of why some people need wheelchairs.
Many years ago, forever ago... but yesterday... I had no idea how to answer those questions either. What I know now is what I've learned from being head over heels in love with a 5 lb, 3 and 1/2 oz. bundle of emotions I didn't think I was equipped to handle.
The more Steven endured just to fight back from being born too early, the more I found myself rising to my job as his support. It's funny how that works. If HE could face pain and fear with a gummy little lopsided grin, his Mommy had to keep up!
I've been trying to keep up ever since.
It keeps me moving faster and in wilder directions than I ever would have gone alone. My one wish would be for him to be healed and never suffer again. Those of you who know me know what my Grandpa said about wishes. ;) With that in mind, I wouldn't have missed this rollercoaster ride for anything in the world.
So... what DO you say to someone in a wheelchair?
"Hey there, good-lookin'"
"Can you parallel park that thing?"