Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tall, Dark and Handsome

I was busy painting Dear Son’s hospital bed when the show came on. It was “Little People Big World”, the show about two parents who are dwarfs who have four children: one set of twin teenage sons of whom only one is a dwarf, along with two other children, both of whom are normal size. I sometimes watch the show because I find it rather interesting to see the challenges they face as people with disabilities along with the normal family stuff.
Perhaps the two people that interest me the most are the father and his teenage son, who is also a dwarf. The father has great difficulty walking and walks with crutches. It's almost painful to watch him maneuver through the world, especially on business trips. I can only imagine how difficult it would be getting around in a world that’s not exactly made for people with disabilities, let alone little people. His son is fifteen and also a dwarf. It’s interesting to watch him too, he’s still little but still a teenager, which I guess proves the point that you can’t keep these kids from growing up, which is a good thing, in my book.

I was quite pre-occupied with all of the painting when there was a scene where the normal sized teenage son failed to make this soccer team that was an Olympic prep team of some sort. (Sorry for the fuzzy details, it was on in the background.) The father was trying to make his son feel better by giving him a pep talk and then finally offering to make him his deluxe burger. Of course, by making his burger, the son would not feel bad much longer since the burger was so good. I laughed at the father trying to make his son feel better since I don’t know a parent today that won’t do whatever it takes to try and make their kids feel better when they are down. He continued his pep talk and then said something quite remarkable. He said, “Jeremy, I have to go out in the world all the time and I walk into a room and every time I know I will never be the tall, dark, handsome guy in the room and I have to get over it. I have to be more resourceful and look for other ways to impress them.” I am paraphrasing for sure but that was the essence. It was the “every time” that got me. It has to be hard knowing that you are never “the guy” when you walk into the room. Never. It’s not that I didn’t realize he was a dwarf, but it was looking through the world through his eyes, that made me think of how it must be for Dear Son.

I have watched Dear Son through the years and his amazing ability to charm people when he is in a room. I watch in amazement with how resourceful he is. Here is a man who can not talk, can not walk, can not use his hands, can not feed himself, can not use a toilet and yet is never down. He doesn’t sit in self pity for what he can’t do. He doesn’t crawl into a shell when he’s in a room with people. He sees the room as his oyster and he works the room better than anyone I have ever seen in the Corporate world. I often wish I had his talent.

I remember a few years ago when I watched him lie in a hospital bed at Big Academic Medical Center as he watched the flow of people, mostly women come into his room. A beautiful young woman comes into the room to stock the supply cabinet near his bed. He quickly notices the young woman and his eyes “lock” onto her and a big grin comes across his face. She hasn’t noticed him yet, but that makes no difference. He continues to stare at her and she still doesn’t notice. He quickly shifts to Plan B and begins to make loud noises to get her attention. She still fails to acknowledge him so he gets louder. I laugh to myself thinking he is typical of boys in that they will do anything to get your attention, including being loud and drawing attention to themselves, at least at that age. Plan C goes into effect and he leans over towards her and gets louder yet. Finally, she says hi to him and he smiles even wider. Success! He continues to watch her as she now engages in conversation with him.

I think back to the show and his comment. People with disabilities don’t have the advantages that we do and it seems that they learn how to overcome these issues at an early age. Maybe that’s an advantage to being disabled. It takes regular people a lot longer to learn these lessons. Maybe the advantage is that they know up front they are the underdog and they figure out early on their best assests and use them to their advantage. They don't try to win at a game they can't play. Instead, they play the best game they have. In the end they can still win, they can still succeed and they can be very resourceful. Sometimes, they just do things differently, and that’s not only o.k., it’s a good thing. Sometimes, it’s good to be tall, dark and handsome and then sometimes, it’s good to be you. Of course, some kids get it all. Hmmm…maybe Dear Son knew this all along.


Becca said...

He does look BRILLIANT in that photo, I've gotta say. Lovely story - it speaks volumes about Dear Son's self-confidence and sense of self-worth and that can only have come from you.

As an aside... I know Son is in a classroom for kids with an intellectual impairment but uh... well, are you sure he's actually GOT an intellectual impairment? Only this isn't the first time that you've described him doing some very deliberate, very logical things in attempts to communicate with people (especially hot chicks... lol!).

Lois Grebowski said...

Who can't resist those handsome eyes...You know I can't...

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