Do you have any idea how devastating it is for a parent of a physically challenged child to go to a park? Here’s a little secret….I did not look forward to going to the park with friends. It was NOT a good time for me.
Because your children got too run around the playground and creative while my son had to be carried. Usually by myself or Paul. It was a very difficult time, and I am sure Braden had many frustrating moments due to the lack of accessibility in our parks.
You see its not that I hated being with my friends or their kids, it was how much work it entitled. All the other parents could pull up a chair, sit down and supervise their children while they played on the creative.
I wanted to watch my kid play~Not help my kid play
I had to constantly be up and down, in and out always available to that perfect little boy who just wanted to keep up with the others.
How could I not leap up when he called out too me..”Mommy can I go up there”, “Mommy can I swing on the swings?”, “Mommy can I go down the slide?” Of course I would jump up and bring him around the creative doing all the wonderful things the other three year olds were doing.
If there was a little tykes car on the street, he’d want to go in that. That would mean I had to lift him, and try to fit him in that little car while threading his legs into a working position. Once seated he’d want me to push him. That meant bending over, sweating in the heat of summer pushing this little guy whose legs would end up getting caught somewhere between place A and B. Then the tears would flow. Usually mine~
Now lets not make this all about me. I can guarantee you this, he certainly didn’t want me there either. If given a choice any little boy would not want their mother linger over them, carrying them, maneuvering him from place to place. Constantly carrying them while their little friends ran about playing tag or shooting their fake finger guns at one another pretending to shot the bad guy. It became a dependant relationship that neither of us would have wanted if given a choice. I could see the frustration on his face, it was a very difficult time in his childhood. Something that so many others take for granted.
I have witnessed the annoyed parent who begrudgingly gets up out of their chair to pass a towel to their wet child. Whining because their child is stuck on top of the creative and too scared to come down by themselves, so they have to get up off your lawn chair and lift them down. What I would have given to have had that choice. How very fortunate and blessed you are…and you don’t even know it.
Looking at those summer days today, some of these issues were faced in the best of environments. Well paved playgrounds were the ideal, however there were never any ramps or wheelchair accessible obstacles for him to play on.
Can you imagine how things went down when the playground was mulch covered or sported nice plush green grass, or even better the sand filled play ground. We down right avoided those, the water parks were horrendous as well. Pretty much had to get myself wet every time, he couldn’t use his electric mobility devices because they couldn’t get wet.
Once again, if we didn’t get up and participate in the activities, carrying Braden through the splash pad and water fountains he wouldn’t have that fun either. So forget sitting down with the other mom’s at the park. I just give thanks that I was a young mom. I had the energy at that time in life, well I had the physical ability but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t tired. That just means I willed the strength to make it happen.
But in all honesty I was tired, I was jealous that everyone else could sit down and relax while their kids burned off energy on the playground. The sun leaving kisses on their little faces, scraped knees, sticky fingers and dirty faces completed the day. Out like a light after dinner, smelling like the sweet scents of summer.
Is that selfish of me?
Even though I have the bravery today to speak the truth and share with you what it is like for parents of physically disabled children, I do believe there was many positive things that came out of it. In all honesty if you were to ask any parent of a special needs child I can guarantee there may be things they would love to change, but I know it would never be their child.
I for one, wouldn’t change a whole lot about my life. I absolutely love my family and who we are today.
The best of times was when it was just the four of us. (also my parents). We would play on the creative as a family, Paul and I didn’t need to worry about talking to others or drinking our coffee’s while they’re hot. We played with our children, because we had too, and most times wanted too. Paul would lift Braden up, and he would run all around the creative. Kailey and I trailing behind laughing and loving our family time. We’d wear these kids out and then grab an ice cream and head home. We always enjoyed our time out together as a family, I didn’t have to be jealous of anyone because all those parents watching us with our children were jealous of us. I could see it
I don’t want to come off in this post like playing in parks with my kids was not fun. I did enjoy spending time with my friends and their children. I am complaining about how challenging non-accessible playgrounds were/are for children with physical disabilities. I am expressing exactly how difficult it is for parents and their differently abled children who have to operate around wheelchair hating debris.
Having these hindrances in our lives, we did become quite crafty with outdoor play. Our imaginations became so important. We had to come up with ideas on how to encourage and incorporate out door play for Braden and his friends.
Winter time play with neighbours.
Neighbourhood kids playing with Braden and Kailey. They learned at a very young age how to incorporate Braden, I will love these Wadsworth kids for always being there for him.
Pool parties with friends, endless summertime days. Lots of candy and good times~
Water gun play…refilling the guns.
More pool parties…always a pool full of kids. As you can see Braden was independent with his friends. I was always close, someone had eyes on him at all times. The kids knew his fears and weaknesses but always made him feel safe.
Its one of those things that if we didn’t take charge and taught some of his friends how to include Braden in play…then how would they know?
We eventually bought Braden a power wheels jeep, this provided him with some mobility while outside.
Braden and baby Kayla at the park, just babies.
All the kids loved getting rides in that jeep. They became very creative, and attached wagon’s and buggy’s too it. I remember at times Paul would load that jeep into our van before leaving for work in the morning because I was having a play date at the park that morning with friends. I had great people in my life who would help me take the jeep out of the van, and then load it back up when we were leaving. He didn’t have to miss out on much, if the playground was paved he would have a blast.
Eventually we started bringing toys to the park, we loaded up our van with water guns, plastic toys, toy guns, racquets, balls, chalk, bubbles, action figures. Pretty much anything we could draw the neighbourhood and park kids in too play with Braden. It was a lot of work, but when those kids saw our wagon coming filled with toys. They’d come running. Genius.
Then we put in a in ground pool. That was another good idea.
We had countless pool parties, school year end parties, special engagement parties and just “lets get together” parties.
We also put in a hot tub, in the winter time it was wonderful. Braden could have friends over and they could spend time outside in the hot tub together.
Having all the kids come to our house worked great. It was ALOT of work, and we were exhausted parents. But we did it. He did not miss out on anything. Paul and my brother built a creative in the back yard as well. It was an all wooden structure that had stairs that were laid out perfectly for Braden so he could do them himself. It was amazing.
On top of the creative, he could crawl around the whole thing by himself. I had to stay close but at least he was independent with friends. There was nothing sweeter than hearing him laughing with his buddies, you never knew what he was up too.
All his friends could run around, but if he played his cards right he could always control the play. He learned very young how to keep those kids interested and intrigued with playtime at our house. Even in the pool they knew exactly how to keep Braden integrated.
During a school play, he was a part of everything. The kids made sure of it.
For all the negatives we always had ten positives. I truly have not much to complain about. The people in our lives were wonderful. The kids who played and entertained Braden through his childhood were honestly a god send. That included our neighbourhood kids as well. We had the best set up here on Wadsworth Cres.
The purpose of this blog post is too let people know, that our communities are not set up for children in wheelchairs. We have a long way to go, so many changes need to be made. My advice to you, if you are a parent reading this post and you are at a park and see a child in a wheelchair. Please make an effort to bring your child over to them. Ask them if they’d like to play. Ask the parent or guardian what can we do to make it easier for their child too join in.
Having the time today too go through all these memories, I look back and wonder how we did it. My hopes would be too inspire you to make a difference.
Well my lovelies, I hope you are all doing well. Until next time good night and god bless~