On our way home from afternoon preschool, we stop at the playground. This has become our habit on these warm spring days. We were not there long before Jasper made a friend, Robin, or rather, she befriended him. “Let’s go slide together, Jasper!” she said, taking his hand, pulling him along, not aware that she was leading him. Robin called to Jasper “Come swing with me!” and Jasper followed the pink blur of her shape, running behind her, both of them laughing.
I had never seen Jasper make a friend so readily. And I could not help but think about how much I appreciate the inclusiveness of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. When we go there, I do not feel my difference (single parent), or Jasper’s difference (disability). I do not know whether Robin’s father deciphered my language with Jasper – “Robin’s wearing pink!” “Slide is straight ahead!” or “Mommy’s right down here below you,” when Jasper could no longer find me from his vantage point, up on top of the slide. I did not bother to explain Jasper to her dad – “Jasper is delayed, he’s visually impaired” – we just stood there, smiling, watching two kids play together.
What you do not know is how hard it is for our children to make friends, real friends. How long it takes to make a friend, when your child with CVI cannot recognize a face, or interpret emotions and expressions or body language. Friends who do not see a child’s differences. All she saw was another child, just her size. “Let’s go slide together, Jasper!”
Originally published here on May 29, 2016.