Bang! Thud! Bang! Thud!
I was being hit by human cannonballs. It took me a second to realize what was happened, I’d been startled out of my reverie by the first bang against the back of my chair. The noise in the place echoed from wall to ceiling to the back of my brain. I was guarding a table in the overflowing cafeteria in the ROM. Joe, Marissa and the kids were foraging for food and I, blissfully, was not. Then, the bang.
At almost exactly the same moment that I noticed the two little boys bouncing off the back of my chair, using it as part of their game, their mother did too. Are all mothers capable of looking mortified and protective all at the same time. I, once I knew what was happening, thought it was funny. They were having a blast. She pulled them away from me, but I didn’t want them to associate being pulled away with my disability and I had time so I said, “Do you want to ask me any questions about my wheelchair?”
They were promptly ushered over by their mom who said, “Go ahead and ask him anything you want.” It was then she looked truly frightened. One boy asked me about my wheels. So I explained to him how I used them to get around and as I was doing so the other asked me about my gloves. He was a little confused at first when I told him that my gloves were like his shoes. They protected my hands as I wandered around in my chair. A couple of questions later and they were done, mother looked incredibly relieved. I’m not sure what she thought they’d asked but she’d clearly been asked some whoppers in her time.
I picked up my phone to check emails when I saw one of the boys, the older one, come back. He stood expectantly. I asked him if he had another question. He nodded really seriously. I told him to go ahead. I didn’t hear him the first time because it was so loud and because he spoke really softly. Encouraged to speak up, he did, “Can I tear off this sticker,” he asked, pointing to the brand sticker on the side of my chair that had been slowly peeling off on its own accord. I had been meaning to pull it off myself so this was a great way to get that accomplished, “Sure,” I said. It took some doing but he got it off. He handed to me, again with great seriousness, and I told him he could have it if he wanted it. He shook his head and left smiling.
Then the younger boy was back. “Can I have the sticker please? I want it for my forehead.” I laughed. I glanced up and mom who just shrugged her shoulders so handed him the sticker. It didn’t stick as he’d hoped to his forehead but did quite well to the top of his head.
They got up to go just as Ruby appeared carrying a tray of food. “Why does that boy have your wheelchair sticker on top of his head?” she asked.
That’s a question that I never thought I’d ever be called to answer.