Finding a handicap parking spot for our wheelchair van is challenging. There are only four outside our local supermarket and they are typically occupied. I have run out of fingers and toes for counting the number of times Allison has come home perturbed about there not being spots in which to park. Our wheelchair van seems to grow wings as Allison circles in the landing pattern waiting for a spot to open. Then their are the white lines next to the handicap parking spots. Many people don’t know what they are for. Even people who use handicap parking are often unsure. They are for side opening wheelchair ramps. I try not to get too irritated when shopping carts are left in those areas. I promise not to hold it against anyone who has done that. We used to do it, too, before we knew what they were for.
The other reason we typically have not brought Livy to the store is that Haily has been too small to push either the cart or Livy. But that has changed. Hailey is now strong enough to push Livy through the store while I push the carriage. It’s really difficult to do a full shop without some help. Over the last two weekends, Hailey has been an amazing copilot.
The reaction to Livy in public is always interesting. There are some people who look and smile and there are others who just look. I especially enjoy the older woman who tell Livy how beautiful she is. Little kids are typically entranced. They like to stare as Livy wheels by. They are so curious and want to ask questions but often don’t know what to say or if it’s okay to say anything. There are some who courageously venture a, “What’s wrong with her?” or “What happened to her?” We just respond, “Her brain works a little differently than yours does and she can’t do everything you can do. But she still wants to be a kid just like you.” We always encourage kids to ask questions. We would much rather explain it to them so they know and start to accept people who may be a little bit different than they are. The younger kids are introduced to those concepts, the better.
I really enjoyed going shopping with my girls. It gave Livy a chance to get out and do some socializing. It gave Hailey the opportunity to be responsible for her sister. As for me, I definitely own the special needs dad strut. I am not reticent to talk to people about Livy. Perhaps experience has given me that confidence and a perennial suit of armor. I also think of it as my honor to share the beautiful gift that was given to us. But more than likely, it’s the fact that I love my girls and I’m not afraid to show it.