WNY mom has important & emotional message for those who judge, “It is easy to pass judgement when you don’t know the whole story.”
“Warning – I’m about to go all mama bear in this post. Today I learned from my mom that about a month ago, when she was taking Ethan for a walk around her neighborhood in his stroller, a man walking his dog said something along the lines of “He’s too big for that thing,” after he passed by. My mom, just as much of an advocate for our sweet boy as I am, turned and informed the guy why he was in a stroller. He didn’t respond, and we’re not really even sure if he heard. But I know that if one person had the nerve to say something out loud, dozens of people who don’t know us are thinking similar thoughts – when they see us walking around the neighborhood, amusement parks, the mall, wherever we might use the stroller for Ethan. And so I feel the need to say this for him and for other kids with invisible illnesses and disabilities (and also…for their moms, and dads, and grandparents, and everyone who loves them and would do anything to protect them).
This boy has been through so much in his 7 years – two open heart surgeries, weeks in the hospital, dozens of doctors appointments, hundreds of hours of therapy. When you see him, or another child like him, do not assume that he is a sign of today’s “lazy and entitled” youth, being pushed around in a stroller when his legs are long enough to dangle out the side and touch the ground. Trust me – no parent wants to push their 47 pound school-age child in a stroller. This particular child works hard all day at school and at his PT and OT sessions (which are pretty much the equivalent of you or I going to the gym), and if he wants to experience a walk around the block without being too wiped out to play for the rest of the day…or enjoy a day at an amusement park with his siblings without having to take rest breaks every 5 minutes…I will push him in the stroller!!!
He does not look sick. I know this, and I am grateful for it. We are so blessed that he is doing better now than he was a year ago. But the truth is, he is still not a healthy boy. Last week at his doctors appointment, his oxygen sats were in the 80’s, and we were thrilled! If you or I had oxygen saturations in the 80’s, it’s likely that we would be put on supplemental oxygen. This is how he walks around – every single day.
Okay, so if he’s sick, why not get him a wheelchair instead of pushing him in a stroller? Well, because pediatric wheelchairs are not cheap. And honestly, they’re not all that comfortable. So, as long as he’s comfortable in his jogging stroller, that’s where he’ll ride.
Now, you might say, surely every big kid I see being pushed in a stroller doesn’t have a medical condition. Possibly. But you don’t know. It is easy to pass judgement when you don’t know the whole story. (I am working on this lesson myself in all areas of my life.) But maybe the bigger thing to do, instead of judging, is to give parents the benefit of the doubt. A 7 year old in a stroller is really not the biggest problem facing our society today. But I think we can all agree that self righteous judgement is probably up there in the top 10.”
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