I voted today and while I wheeled up the long ramp leading into my polling location, the throngs of volunteers cheered and clapped for me. One man shared the reason behind the applause. Simply, the volunteers were happy to see me show up to vote. He said he knew it wasn’t easy for me to show up and they wanted me to know they were proud of me. Because the voting area lived in the basement of an old church and the church is under construction, another kind man escorted me through the construction area to the elevator. I noticed we entered through an emergency exit only door and, at the time, I didn’t really think much of it. After I voted, I made my way back through the construction zone and opened the emergency exit only door. A few seconds later, I saw a mom and her son walking down the flight of stairs. Nursery school ended for the day and they were on their way out, too. I was a few feet in front of them and heard the little boy begin to ask, “Hey mom why is she...”. And then his mom quieted him. I assumed he started to ask why was I in a wheelchair. Obviously, his mom and I shared the same assumption. I know she reacted the way she did in case I was offended. I turned around to explain I didn’t mind the question and would be more than happy to answer his innocent question. But, before I was all the way around, the little boy, as three-year-olds often do, ignored his mom and shouted his question again. Only this time he finished it. He shouted, in his perfect three-year-old voice of authority, “Hey Mom, why is she allowed to use the emergency door, that’s a no, no, you know?” Not once did he ask about my wheelchair. I am not sure he even noticed my chair. I used a door that wasn’t allowed to be used. I am his equal and shouldn’t break the rules either. No special treatment for me, he and I are just the same. I wish we could all see through the eyes of this child and these adults. I think the world would be a much better place. Although, we might just all have to follow all of the rules.
This quick adventure taught me a huge lesson. I saw both ends of the spectrum. I was honored by adults who know what hard is and I was honored by a child who sees me as his equal and I am honored to have witnessed both of them.