Image Description: A finger, on a switchbox, is turning the power off.
I didn’t realize, when writing yesterday’s post, that today was coming.
Today, we have to stay in to wait for the wheelchair repair people to come and take a look at my power chair. I am desperate to have it back even though I have my back up scooter. The scooter doesn’t have the capacity to do the distances that my chair does, and it’s too cumbersome to take on the subway, so I’ve been limited to just my neighbourhood. I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong, but I’m looking forward to being back up to full power.
Yesterday I wrote about staying in, choosing to stay in, today staying in isn’t a choice. What a world of difference. It’s barely 8 and I’m chomping at the bit to go out. We had our first real snow last night and I’d like to go out in that and wander about a bit. But repair people come when they come and you don’t want to miss them. So. We’re in. And the walls close.
I remember many years ago, seeing an angry staff dealing with a kid in a wheelchair who was tantruming. There was no question that the kid was upset and angry and difficult. But what kid hasn’t been in that spot? The staff, in an act of a revengeful kind of punishment (and don’t even try to suggest that kind of thing doesn’t happen) reached down and disconnected his power wheelchair such that it could not longer move.
The kids temper tantrum moved up a notch from temper tantrum to a riotous rage at the violation he felt. I spoke to the staff about it and she just said, “That will settle him down.” I was new and, if you can believe it, shy about speaking up. I saw the wrong and I questioned it without protesting it and thought that that was enough. (I am different now.) But even though I saw the wrong then, I didn’t understand it. Now I see this as purely about establishing, in a literal way, who had the power and who didn’t. The act of taking away the power of movement was an act of heirarchy in the most blatent way it can be. I have the power to shut your power down. It’s terrifying in it’s implications.
Now that I use a wheelchair, I remember these things but through a different lens. I saw it as wrong, I didn’t see it as what it was … cruel. Taking away mobility from someone … you’d never tie a kids legs up because he was having a tantrum, or you wouldn’t do it without being reported to children’s services. It’s so clear now.
I know it’s a huge jump from having to stay in for a wheelchair repair person’s visit to a kid tantruming in a power wheelchair that has been purposely shut down. But I think, when we remember moments in our past we should look for connections that allow us to learn from memory rather than just visiting memory.
To that kid, whose name I don’t even remember.
I’m sorry I wasn’t stronger then.
You were right to rage.
I hope you still do.