Monday, January 5, 2009

Mall-walking with Annie

This morning at 5:40 AM I got a recorded call from the school district superintendent saying that school was going to be 2 hours late--and no AM kindergarten for Annie--because of inclement weather. The slush on the street was at least 3/4" thick, so I was in total agreement with the decision. No telling what could happen on slushy roads when the temperature is 40 degrees.

Have I mentioned that Annie has had a long Christmas break? One week of snow days, two weeks of official break, and now we're into the fourth week, but who's counting? So instead of taking her to school, I packed her up, got in the van and braved the slush on our way to the mall. Annie loves going to the mall as long as you don't spend too much time in one place--she likes to keep moving in her wheelchair.

Telling about our trip to the mall reminds me of a list I thought of. I call it:

5 Things People Can Do for the Disabled in Public Places:

1. Smile--smiling is way better than staring.
2. Open doors for them.
3. Don't freak out when your kids ask "Why is that person in that wheelchair?"
Kids are naturally curious, and deserve a simple answer. I don't mind when kids (or adults for that matter) ask questions. You could say to the disabled person (or parent), "Do you mind if my son asks you a question?" A little boy in the elevator at Children's Hospital asked me why Annie was in the wheelchair, and I said, "Because her legs don't work as well as yours do." He then proceeded to demonstrate how high he could jump--he was onto the next thing. Kids are great, and honest questions are really okay.
4. Compliment them--notice that they are a human being with attributes besides their disability. A lady came up to Bill and Annie at the mall and said, "My, she is just all decked out in pink!" That remark was a blessing for Bill, because the lady was showing that Annie was attractive in spite of the hardware she sits in.
5. Don't park in handicapped spaces, unless you are disabled, even if the paint is so faded that you really can't tell if it's a handicapped place or not.

So that covers the essentials, at least for me. What's on your list?


Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12


pam said...

#6: don't shout. The person in the chair is disabled, not deaf.

and...walking the mall with Annie would have been preferable to sitting in the Jury Assembly room all day waiting to be called for a case that I couldn't do anyway!

and...Jean, you have an AMAZING way with words. I would miss your blog terribly if you changed the way you write it or the content you include. Your pearls of wisdom are priceless, even if we do have to excavate them from some sarcasm sometimes.)

And I want that trip, too. I think age-before-beauty should win out, so Gretchen, get to the back of the line!

Annie Sullivan said...

Pam--let's ALL go to Palm Springs!

And, don't worry--I'll keep writing about Annie, but include more general topics about disability stuff. Then I might begin a new one. You know, in my spare time.


PS. Sorry about the jury duty--sure glad you were able to get there through all the slush.

Gretchen said...

This is an awesome list, Jean. I love the idea of smiling, too. Sneak-staring and looking away does no good. It's not like the family doesn't know she's in a chair.

I am feeeeeeeling you on the snow days, etc. David only goes to school for 4 hours a week, but it's better than no hours, and I've missed it! And Jenny---that girl just needs to be in school. Social butterfly, that one.

I'll happily share my trip. :)

Anonymous said...

I second the "don't park in handicapped spaces unless you NEED it!" With a wheelchair you need the extra space to get them in and out... Now days there are so many people that get handicapped permits that probably actually NEED the extra exercise of walking a little farther - it's really hard to find a place to park sometimes if you need the extra space for maneuvering the wheelchair/person in and out.

Sarah Park

Sue Powell said...

Jean I SO vote that you continue with the updates! You share so well and it give us all the opportunity to keep up with Annie and her progress, as well as knowing how YOU are doing also.

And you know... I do have a disabled permit but I still do not park in the handicap spots unless I really need to (which is far less often than when I first got it). Even though I can legally do so, when I got the permit I could barely walk and now I am much better. I may park in one if there really is a long distance and my leg is hurting, etc. but I am SO aware that there are many people who need the spot far more than I do.

Anonymous said...

Jean, Thank you for keeping the blog going as long as you have. I've been going through health issues these past two years and have found a wealth of encouragement and inspiration here. I'm some better now but still run to this space when I need a 'pick-me-up'. It helps to focus on praying for Annie and the rest of you, learning from the wonderful demonstration of 'Faith under fire' that your family has provided and seeing God work in your lives.
I have no doubt that whatever God lays on your heart to do with the blog will continue to bless many people.
Love and Prayers, Carolyn

Annie Sullivan said...

Thank you all for your input--

Pam, you're right about not yelling--and speaking to the disabled person with the respect we want ourselves. I'm sure you've got plenty of stories to tell from work...

Thanks, Gretchen, for sharing your trip--and your insight re: differently gifted kids.

Sarah, you've been there with dear, sweet, Helen. And even in regular handicapped spaces, there's often not enough room to maneuver. Cool that Helen doesn't need a stinking handicapped space anymore!!

Sue--thanks for your faithful encouragement, and I say you can use the handicapped spot anytime you want.

Carolyn--Thanks for checking in, and for your prayers. I will try to keep showing that God is here in the everyday hum-drum--because He is!


pam said...

Ok, so now that we've had our little love-fest, let's give ol'Bill a kick to get some wedding pics on the site - of lovely Annie and Olivia AND their stunning mom!!

Annie Sullivan said...

I can't wait to see the wedding pics--and I'll put one up here of flower girl Annie as soon as I get one!