July 13, 2015
The other day, I took two of my little kiddos to a Members’ Night at the Zoo. Matthew and Sarah bounced and squealed, excitement uncontained. “We’re going to the zoo! We’ll see animals and have so much fun!”
The skies threatened, but rain is our dreary companion this summer. Heavy traffic and no handicapped parking available, I wheeled Sarah onto one of the only “on-ramps” to the sidewalk and walked about a quarter mile to the end of the line, feeling like salmon swimming upstream. I assessed the number of guests and decided it prudent to discover what mattered most to them both. “I want my face painted,” said Sarah. Matthew added, “I want to dance at the dance party.”
The cloud cover grew greyer, and the air smelled of ozone when we spotted the face painting line. Its line boasted about a dozen families. We waited, singing every animal song I could remember. Thunder rumbled. The young ladies painting happy faces devoted the attention of a master; each work looked wonderful but took a small eternity. By the time only two families stood in line before us, the Heavens opened and it rained. I huddled the kids beneath the painters’ canopy and rushed through the near-by gift shop. I bought Matthew a tiger umbrella. Sarah won’t carry an umbrella, so I grabbed a slicker for her. Out of cash, I joined the kids in the unmoving line.
When our turn arrived, Sarah chose a lady bug for her hand. The art took little time, and Sarah would brush the glittery thing off before we reached the car. The artist painted a blue tiger mask on Matthew. He growled his approval.
We left the tent and braved the rain. During our adventure, a woman stopped me to say, “Why would you give the little boy an umbrella but not the child in the wheelchair?” People stopped to hear my answer.
I wiped rain-smeared mascara from my face. “She won’t hold one, and I can’t manage an umbrella while pushing the chair.” Even though Sarah wore her rain jacket, the woman pressed her lips together in disgust. She said, “That doesn’t make any sense.”
Rain slicked my hair to the sides of my face and ran in rivulets into my eyes. I was doing my best, and instead of helping, this woman thought to criticize. With a flash of temper, I stepped back and motioned to the wheelchair’s handlebars. “Ma’am, please, show me how to do this since you seem to have some insight to share.” Who knows? She might have had an effective technique I haven’t found in the last 18 years.
Alas, she disappointed me by instead tutting and walking away.
With her departure, the gawkers moved on. None had helpful advice either, apparently.
My enthusiasm for the outing eddied from me like water circling a drain. “Let’s go home, sweeties. We’ll have our own dance party there.”
Once home, I searched online and found a clamp-style umbrella adaptor. It will most likely obscure my vision once attached to Sarah’s chair, but if it will keep meddling strangers from offering judgement and not salient advice, perhaps it is worth the $55.36.
Deep breaths. Every day is an adventure and an opportunity.
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