I was doing a maze on the rotator at VT this week – minding my own beeswax like a good girl – when a little preschool-aged patient ran away (literally) from his activity, leaned against my knee, looked at the rotator with fascination, then at my face (wearing a patch over one eye) and told the room, “Pie-yette [Pirate].”
I couldn’t help it – I burst out laughing. I mean, who else would have the guilelessness to call another patient a “pirate”? It’s funny bc it’s how I often think of myself when I’m patched, and I refer to home VT exercises as “Pirate Time.” But coming from the lips of a child (and fellow-patient) it was hysterically funny.
This particular little kid was wearing some kind of neurological headgear (pretty subtle, actually, not like a helmet or anything). Judging from the way he was bouncing around the room his mobility is fantastic, but I thought he might be working through some speech issues in addition to having to go to VT. It made me think of another exceedingly handsome little fellow I see on Sundays. He’s working through some speech things, too, and he was trying to tell his mom something after the meeting was over last weekend. He couldn’t quite get it out, though, so his mom took a few guesses (emphatically negative by her son) and then told him, “Okay, try again.” Write that phrase down, people. Along with “the research shows,” I feel like this is a good phrase to keep in your back pocket. Delivery is important with this one, though. The way my friend (the mom) said it was full of patience and encouragement. The implication (to me, at least) was that the boy will not just have to get by on good looks for the rest of his life – he’s got someone (actually, lots of folks, beginning with his parents) to wait for him to “try again” so he can make his needs/wants understood.
Seeing little kids dealing with challenges is one of the saddest parts of living in RecoveryLand. Every time I see a tiny wheelchair at the hospital I want to cry. But I often see these chairs occupied, too, and the kids are usually chattering away, talking to their friends/therapists/caregivers, oblivious (for that moment) that they are in a tough spot.
Kids like the one who called me “Pirate” make my day. Their parents (all parents – of kids healthy or not quite) might cringe and feel bad that their child infringed on a patient’s privacy or personal space. But I’m just so pleased to be noticed by a child like M (the “Pirate” kid) or any other child, for that matter. To me, it means that they think I’m “safe,” that even though parts of me are different, they aren’t scared to talk to me, ask me questions, or say that I look like a pirate. That kind of acknowledgement is worth a LOT to me – it makes me want to let these kids “try again” as often as they need to. After all, I need that kind of grace, too.
P.S. I finally noticed that the sharing buttons below each post let me see how many of you are sharing. Thank you so much for spreading my video from yesterday and “Don’t You Care?” around. Apparently you all have lots if friends – thanks again!
P.P.S. What’s that thing on your neck? 🙂