Most of my articles, for the past two years, have focused in on emotions and feelings, advocacy, and, the daily struggle of living with Cerebral Palsy. My articles also have focused in on trying to maneuver amongst society, while maintaining self direction, and dignity.
For this month, I would like to focus in on a lighter issue. I would like to focus in on daily living skills. I would also like to focus in on left or right sided paralyses. From a very early age of 18 months old, I can remember my dear, sweet, Mama Katie teaching me to contribute to the house hold, even though I had the use of only one side of my body. I can vividly recall my mama calling out to me and asking me to help her clean. She would come into the living room, hand me a dust rag, and ask me in this wonderfully, sweet, New York accent to help Mama dust the legs on the coffee table. I was only 18 months old, and at that very, young, impressionable age, I can remember smiling and wanting to help. I can remember feeling good about doing what she asked of me, and, about myself.
Most people would not have believed that a child with a disability could do such a thing. But I did. Some how, deep in my mother’s progressive gut, she really, truly, understood something that the experts did not. Now a days, their is a lot of talk about progressive technology and voice activated equipment. However, you don’t hear much about anyone talking about left or right hemiplegia people, learning how to use there good side of their body’s to accomplish every day living tasks.
My mother some how instinctively knew that it would benefit the both of us if I could lead a normal life. This was unheard of during the time I grew up. Parents were taught that there was not much hope for their child, such as I. The fact that I learned these things at such a young age, that it was gentle, and non-treating, made me willing to help and learn. These skills would come in good use when I got a bit older. No one knew in my family what was yet to come. But the handy, useful, hands on approach, and teaching techniques of daily living skills, came in good use when my mother became a single parent, and at fourteen years old, I ran the house hold, while my mother worked and ran our business.
It felt good to know that my mother could lean on me. It felt even better to know that she did not have to worry about me or the house. I would get off the school bus, at about 4 O’ clock in the afternoon. I would put my books away, get my jeans and tee shirt on, and start in with the laundry. Oh how good it felt to know that I was helping my Mama. It felt nice to know that Mama could come home to a clean, spotless home with dinner waiting for her on the table.
It felt so good to know in my heart that I could be independent. That I could be trusted. And it built my self- confidence and self-worth. I felt useful. I felt like I was doing something constitutive, special, and, felt like I was conquering things in my life like everybody else without a disability.
Sometimes I think about all those many years ago, when my mother and I took on all the negative ideas about what a young girl with C.P. could and could not do. I hope the image of that girl will bring encouragement to you when you face something that seems hard. It might help you to remember that this was something that my mother and I decided to take on. This was something I did to help me become who I am, and what I have became today. Thankfully, this was not a goal that experts wrote down in an IEP report to gather dust in an archive.