I love the drive home from school everyday. It is just me and Jackson. He uses this time to talk to me about things on his mind. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a question about the calorie content in chocolate milk. Others, he allows me glimpse into his personal thoughts about his injury and the changes his life has endured since becoming paralyzed.
The other day he told me that sometimes people can be mean. Yes Jackson, they sure can! A person that he plays online video games with was calling him gay. I’ve been told that people can be very hateful and use foul language on these online gaming systems, but our choice as parents has never been to shelter our children. He then proceeded to tell me that it’s okay because he has a friend online that is also good to him, “He takes care of me and watches after me.” Jackson told me that he even told his friend that he was now paralyzed. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but it was the very first time I have ever heard Jackson refer to himself as being paralyzed. And he told a perfect stranger that he’s never laid eyes on. I believe this was Jacksons way of testing the waters so to speak. He was able to confide in this person because he doesn’t know him personally, but trusted him because he has shown Jackson that he wanted to take care of him. Jackson is a very quite little boy and doesn’t share his feeling and thoughts freely. We only get small glimpses into what he is thinking.
You would think from the outside looking in this is something we talk about all of the time. We don’t. We decided to go back to our normal lives, in every possible way. We don’t pretend that he isn’t paralyzed. We just simply allow Jackson to process it as it comes. It is his life that has been altered. It is up to him to decide how he wants to feel about it. How he allows it to affect him. Yes, as parents we push him to accomplish things wether he is in a chair or standing on two feet. Yes, we teach him that he can do anything that he wants. We have to make him do physical therapy, learn how to understand his body and warning signs to watch for. It is a part of our daily lives not, but it doesn’t define us and how we choose to live.
We have a long way to go: physically and emotionally. He completely shuts down when he is around other kids in wheelchairs or is around someone talking about his paralysis. I know there is a level of acceptance that he has to work through. But Jackson is the strongest kid I have ever met, and he will do it…. but it will be in his own time, as it should be.