When I have to explain to people – especially young kids that being in a wheelchair isn’t as fun as it looks it can be tough, especially if the child is really young. Of course the idea of being able to sit down all day would seem like bliss to some people, but that doesn’t last and before too long most of us find ourselves looking for something to do and an excuse to move around a little. Not all people who use wheelchairs can choose just to get up and wonder around whenever they please, some can’t do that or would find it difficult. The thing that I find hard is how to explain this to children and young adults without sounding like I’m A) telling them off or B) trying to make them feel bad. It’s even harder when they actually use the phrase “I wish I was in a wheelchair”. I know that they can’t help it or don’t understand the true implications of what it means.
Usually I point out that there are ‘good points’ or ‘things that are fun’ about being a wheelchair user like getting to go really fast down hills, being able to help people carry their shopping by putting it on my knee while they push me or not having to worry about finding a seat when I’m getting a bit tired and need a rest.
Then, I have to try and explain the other side of it all like, if they were in a wheelchair they might not be able to do all the things that they like to do. They would be able to watch their friends go ice skating or rollerblading and they could have fun watching and sharing jokes with their mates, but they might go be able to put on a pair of skates and do the skating/rollerblading part.
In my opinion, I’m very fortunate because although I am a wheelchair user I don’t have to use my chair very often and instead use Martha as much as I possibly can. I’m not ashamed of my wheelchair and I’m more than grateful for having it on my bad days and days when I know that I’m going to be walking around a lot. Sometimes I’ll get out of it and push it along in front of me if I feel like stretching my legs but I find this quite frustrating because I can’t control it very well being in front of it and I can’t get it across a road.
If I know that I need to give Martha or myself a day off then I will take my chair, I have no problem with that, but there are good and bad points to everything.