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Image description: A multicoloured disc with the words RIGHT NOW written in white

“Dave, you look different,” Ruby said, holding a picture of Joe and I, taken back when we were in our early thirties. I glanced over at the picture, we were standing side by side looking uncomfortably at the camera. There were a number of differences I could see there so wasn’t sure which one Ruby was referring to, so, I asked. Ruby, uncomfortable, said, “You don’t have a wheelchair.”

Now Ruby has only known me as a wheelchair user, she has only known me as someone who rolls my way around the world. I wasn’t sure how to answer, so I just said, “I didn’t need a wheelchair back then.”

“Oh,” she said. She looked at it for a little longer, “it doesn’t look right,” and then she put it down and went on about her business.

Ruby clearly sees me as ‘right, now.’

I just love how Ruby and Sadie are just habituated to being around wheelchairs and people with wheelchairs. I love how their world now includes checking for accessibility, as I’m told they often do, “Dave wouldn’t be able to get in here mom, that’s not fair,” even when I’m not there.

This is what inclusion, welcome or whatever you want to call it is supposed to do. It’s supposed to teach kids that it can be ‘right’ to be in a wheelchair. That there isn’t something wrong with you, something wrong with how you exist in the world, something wrong that needs to be fixed.

Being seen as ‘right, right now,’ is something I don’t experience a lot.

So it felt good.

Shortly after we went out to celebrate my birthday, which is actually on the winter solstice, as a ‘planned or be belated’ event. I opened a couple of present but I’d already got the big one!