Sometimes, as the mother of a young man with disabilities, I feel like I'm watching a lot of life through a weird filter. We may be looking at the same picture, but the colors are shifted. Some of it comes from spending Steven's formative years in a very loving small town, but one where there were no other children in chairs. I had everything in common with the other mothers, and nothing at all. It depended on the day.
I've gotten used to the feeling of "Same planet, different worlds."
It hit me again last week because of a beer commercial.
I've seen this ad shared over and over on Facebook. "Inspirational" and "Beautiful!", guaranteed to make one's heart melt. If you haven't seen it yet, I'll wait while you watch:
Now, I'll try to explain why I had the opposite reaction... or at least give it a shot. (Pun probably intended. ;) )
I'm watching... and loving the game. The voiceover about dedication, loyalty... yes, you have me! Then, all but one get up out of their chairs as the voice says "Friendship." (Wompwomp, stomach drop) The choices we make reveal the true nature of our character...
That's when it hits me they're extolling the qualities of the guys who have the choice to get up and walk out of the gym, not the guy who ruled that game who can't.
You see, from MY vantage point, I see my son get up every day and take on the world. Through all the indignities, pain and frustrations of his day-to-day life, he smiles and pushes ahead. He rides his stylish John Deere chariot around and over obstacles that would leave me exhausted, bitter and ready to call it quits.
And still... he smiles.
He's my strength, my determination and my teacher. To his peers, he's... well, he's just Steven, and that's wonderful. That's what friends ARE. They just want to be around you and you watch out for each other. The chair is the vehicle, not the man.
There's my struggle with the "inspirational message" aspect of the ad. Without the smarmy voice-over ... buddies having a blast in a way they can all enjoy. WOOT! Game on!
With it? It becomes a patronizing message of it taking sterling character and dedication to be a good friend to someone in a chair.