05 Dec Playscape hell
Wheeeeee. Here we go.
What the hell was I thinking letting Meredith go to the playground at Amy’s Ice Creams?
Oh, right. Her 10-year-old sister was already on the spinner, so I had to let Meredith go too. My daughter is 14 and has a brain anomaly making her physical and intellectual disabilities more noticeable at times. She loves the playground as much as any other five-year-old.
Heading for the playscape, some parents look, others smile and some don’t react at all. I should carry a handout explaining that Meredith doesn’t climb very well and she will ask your child a question because she wants more friends. She won’t get in your child’s space and won’t say anything inappropriate though her unique observations about everyday things rivals a Seinfeld episode.
I don’t waste time comparing Meredith to other kids much anymore (she has a brain anomaly called Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum) because my heart would shrivel, but sometimes the comparisons find me, like today.
“Hey, Mere,” I ask “are you trying to get up there?”
Meredith’s climbing ability is significantly compromised because she got taller and the steel rods put in her back five years ago make her rigid. That really puts the special in special needs, doesn’t it?
“Do you want some help?” I offer.
Meredith is draped, belly down, over a platform and the toe of her right foot is brushing the gravel below. This platform leads to a second, then some moving steps and then another platform that is a jumping off point for the tube slides. And if these kids were salmon, how many of them would actually make it?
I’m keenly aware there is a tiny precocious little boy just two feet away from us trying to conquer the same platform. He has a whole entourage cheering him on. “Come on, buddy. You can do it!”
The scene turns to slow motion as I watch this child put his knee onto the platform followed by the other and then he comes to a squatting position and lifts himself up. His Dad cheers and his mother yells to anyone within earshot, “That’s the first time he’s done that!” she says.
“Congratulations,” I say in a voice that even surprises me in its pronounced lack of enthusiasm. I’m really wanting to say “Get the hell off my platform.”
Then as she is hugging her son, she looks at Meredith and says “You can do it too.”
She was well meaning, but it was too late to prevent that zing in my gut. I’m sure this mom felt like she had contributed something positive to this awkward scene as she scampered off to her next scrapbook moment. I can’t really explain it, I only know part of me wanted to give her the finger, the other part wanted to cry into someone’s shoulder and say “it’s not fair.”
I’ve been pushing, pulling, massaging and willing her muscles to move in various directions for a decade. I’ve cheered the things she has accomplished and moved on from the things she never will. Sometimes I just still get jealous, petty and envious of those moms dealt a more typical set of cards.
Guess I better let that platform thing go. The humor here is that while I’m living another soul-crushing moment, Meredith has already left and is engaging with kids coming off the slide. My girl has Herculean resiliency.
Screw the platforms she must have been thinking. Yep, I agree. Meredith knows when to stop and that puts her several platforms above me.