Sunday, August 23, 2009

No awkward, wheelchair boy in the water

When we got in the pool today, this kid was nearby and asked how come we were putting a wheelchair in the water. The volunteer said it was a special one so people in chairs could get in the water. This was cool with the kid, and it got better for him. He got to right the wheelchair after I floated out and then sit in it until a volunteer got it.

I did about 18 lengths of the pool today, about 450 meters. Some were without a float belt, some with, and a few were with me doing almost all the floating.

I know I was floating and swimming on my own because several times my face went under water because the volunteer did not get his hands in the right place fast enough to keep my face out of the water. I swallowed a bit of water today -- it went quite smoothly down the right pipe for some reason.

After I went under the second time, I realized that I try to take a deep breath as soon as I feel myself going under. Sounds OK, but what winds up happening is I take that deep breath right when I go under so I get a nose or mouth full of water.

I also learned how to use my head as a rudder to steer my body and stay in the middle of the lane, although it is faster to just push off the walls of the pool.

Nothing to do with swimming, but on our walk with Claren tonight, this woman at the end of the block complimented her. We were talking for a minute when one of her kids, probably around 10, popped off: "Why are you in a wheelchair?" The mom was horrified and I wish I had thought of something clever to say.

I just said something about a genetic disease with lots of ums in the answer.

The kid was wearing a Power Ranger costume or something. I could have said, Why are you wearing that costume? Or, it's faster than walking. No matter how prepared I am, I don't think I will ever be able to give a clever reply. They just fly out of my mind, leaving awkward, wheelchair boy.


Anonymous said...

I would love some guidance from you on this. Will has asked me before why poeple are in chairs, and I usually say, "I guess they have trouble walking." If and when he askes "why" I give him a couple of possible reasons. Can you give me a better answer?


Matt Trott said...

I feel strongly that whenever a child asks why so-and-so is in a chair you should thrash the child soundly and send Matt $10,000.

If that doesn't appeal to you, you could say because they need a little help getting around, and if the child persists, maybe say their legs may work differently from yours and mine.

I myself prefer to be considered a mutant; only my mutant superpower is not lasers or flying or anything cool. It's falling.

Anonymous said...

I just tell kids the truth. I think we minimize the intelligence of children and I would much rather have someone ask me straight out why I am in a chair then say nothing and just look the other way. I usually say "I had an accident and hit my head at the bottom of a pool and broke my neck. That is why you need to be very careful. Think of the spinal cord like an electric wire; when it is damaged the signal doesn't go through and things don't work quite right." This usually results in more very intelligent questions or the child is satisfied. The worst thing a parent can do is chastise the child for asking the question and yank them away. I find that to be much more uncomfortable. I don't want anybody to be scared of people in wheelchairs.

Anonymous said...

Thank you! I am on the right track then, just need a few tweaks. It seemed important to me to be kind of matter-of-fact.

Matt Trott said...

NO NO NO. The most important thing is to give me money.

Anonymous said...

I got it now. Can we start with a five?

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