It’s a beautiful sunny spring day, at the front of a school. The front doors are locked, because the entrance to our preschool program (aka readiness centre) is through the back. Spring flowers are in bloom.
I am standing in front of a school hoping to get in through the front door. Little Miss Adorable is riding in her stroller, the Dunk is in a baby sling and Mr. Sensitive is propped up against a wall, his leg in spasm. Mr. Sensitive’s leg now looks like a bent Barbie leg – we call him our little peg leg pirate – pointed toes, bent knee, unable to bear weight.
Older Gentleman approaches us, holding his grandson’s hand, “You have to use the other door, this door’s locked.” I recognise him as a regular at the centre. We always walk around the school, but today we can’t. Mr. Sensitive cannot walk.
I continue to knock at the door, wave frantically at people walking by in hopes of them opening the door. I am holding my cell phone to my ear and frantically memorize the phone number of the school as directory assistance recites it.
Older Gentleman continues, “I believe the correct door is at the back. That’s the door they want us to use.”
I ignore Older Gentleman and punch the school’s number into my phone and ask for the readiness centre staff.
Older Gentleman continues,” We are supposed to go around back.” Holding his grandson’s hand, he leaves to go around the school.
I explain my situation to the readiness centre staff, and someone races down the hall to let us in. We limp down the hallway, Mr. Sensitive gripping the stroller for support. Older Gentleman, grandson and our motley crew arrive at the entrance to the program at the same time. I put Mr. Sensitive into a chair and help him remove his jacket and shoes. Older Gentleman turns to me as I am standing beside the preschool teacher, “You know, we’re supposed to use the back entrance.”
I do not disclose Mr. Sensitive’s DMD disagnosis to many people – it’s too sad and complicated. I do not want Mr. Sensitive to be known as the kid who will eventually lose the ability to walk and have everyone pity him. But, I put all that aside and lost it, yelling, “HE HAS MUSCULAR DYSTROPHY AND HIS LEG IS IN SPASM!! HE CANNOT WALK!”
Older Gentleman turns to his grandson, “You see, sometimes people can’t walk….”
I was enraged. I felt he should have known that something was amiss, that we needed the extra help and accommodation. I felt he should have known that he was interrupting my important telephone conversation with directory assistance. I wished we had a flashing light on top of our stroller, blinking “Special Needs! Special Needs!”
But, it’s me that should have known better. I should have just asked the guy and his grandson to walk around the school and open the door for us. I should have explained that Mr. Sensitive cannot walk right now due to a serious muscle spasm. Then Older Gentleman would have known. I was so busy trying to solve the damned problem by myself in my own way that I didn’t see another person beside us, actually offering to help. Ok, he was giving directions to help my apparent confusion, not explicitly offering, but I could have used my grown-up words to explain the situation.
Shame on me.