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The Pool

When my little duck 'A' was born, my main exposure to people with disabilities was from seeing them at community centres and pools with their attendants, hired or sometimes aging mothers whose little ducks would never leave the nest. My fearful mind immediately cast me into that role, my own body weakened from years of grief and neglect, supporting a child who would never swim or run or be free of needing me.

By: Sally Felkai

I stare at my ID card on the counter. The nice community centre cashier lady has not taken it to swipe another swim credit from my account. She has swiped my daughter's card and given us both wristbands, the solid colour of the day indicating a child's entrance fee. I know from experience, I should be getting a patterned band.

"Are you going to take my card?" I ask toward her back as she has moved on to another task. She turns surprised. "Oh no, you get in free as her attendant." For a split second, I don't know what she is talking about. Then I respond, "But I am her Mom and I'm just taking my daughter swimming like anyone else would at this age. She's only four." "Well," she instructs almost sternly but protectively too, "You shouldn't ever have to pay as the attendant of someone with a disability whether you're her Mom or not. You can always get in free with her." 

So here it is. I am one of them. When my little duck 'A' was born, my main exposure to people with disabilities was from seeing them at community centres and pools with their attendants, hired or sometimes aging mothers whose little ducks would never leave the nest. My fearful mind immediately cast me into that role, my own body weakened from years of grief and neglect, supporting a child who would never swim or run or be free of needing me. 

I laugh. That fearful vision seems as far away from reality now as it was looming and oppressive then. My somewhat delayed but assertive pre-schooler is tugging me toward the change rooms eager to get on with her water adventure. I too, look forward to the joy of her clinging to me with squeals of delight as she navigates her favourite place. I don't have time to argue with this lady about whether I deserve a discount or not. I thank her and move on.

The next week, the same lady charged me full price. I didn't argue then either. The boss of me was tugging again, pulling us both forward into a future of moments of delight and sometimes uncertainty but always full of love.

This post is reprinted by permission from Sally's blog, Wide Awake Planet.

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