Cerebral Palsy, Our Son, Parenthood, Toronto

My Toy Story

While walking to the bus stop after ABM therapy last week Sebastian and I stopped into a toy store. He was in his stroller and I rolled him up to the shelves, taking toys down and trying them out for him. Touching his hand on the toy, wrapping his fingers around the rattle to shake and make noise, pressing the buttons to create music and light. We were having fun and I thought about getting him a music station toy for Christmas. I thought I was being good waiting until Christmas to give it to him. Usually, if he is interested in a toy, or makes any attempt to reach for it or play with it, I will buy it. I never thought I would be one of those parents. But I never thought a lot of things. I suppose I don’t feel like I am spoiling him entirely since he can’t play with toys without my help or someone else’s. He can’t ask for toys. He can’t beg for them and cry when I say no. If I think a toy with motivate him to play with it and help him use his arms and hands, and he shows interest in it, then I get it. It’s not a huge issue as we don’t frequent toy stores and I also recognize the need to master the toys which we already have. Which we work on doing, daily.

On this particular day he seemed happy enough to stroll around as we looked and stopped to try a few toys here and there. I saw the book section in the back and headed for it. Nearby there was a table with a car track on it. Around the table were three boys, all Sebastian’s age. They were playing with the cars, pushing them, making car noises and noticing each other once in a while. Sebastian’s eyes brightened when he heard them talking so I took him over to watch while I looked at the toys on a nearby shelf. While I pretended to look at toys on a nearby shelf. Because mostly I was watching Sebastian laugh and smile at the boys playing with the car track, playing with each other, taking no notice of my son.

In that moment my heart was aching. I see kids Sebastian’s age all the time. I have friends with kids Sebastian’s age. When I am with them I don’t think about it. I see them for who they are just as I see Sebastian for who he is. But standing there, watching Sebastian so interested in these boys and what they were doing, but not being able to reach out and grab a car to push on the track, or walk over and nudge one of the kids to share the toys, well, it was one of those moments that only some of you will understand. I wanted to push Sebastian over and kneel down and help him play with the boys. I did. I thought about it. I imagined doing it. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it because we were in a toy store with three abled bodied kids the same age as my son who were too busy pushing cars to care about my son and whether he could push the car by himself or not. I couldn’t do it because I had to fight back the tears. I couldn’t do it because just the day before two preschool-aged children had pointed and laughed at Sebastian’s glasses. Instead I smiled at the mom and nanny hovering nearby and we walked back to the toy section in the front of the store and I promptly picked up the big music station and bought it for Sebastian, for Christmas.

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3 thoughts on “My Toy Story”

  1. Kara, beautifully written and perfectly understood. Have you thought about a little playgroup perhaps that Seb could play with his peers in an emotionally safe environment? think of you all often. Love Bron xo WE love you and Seb lots xo

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  2. lovely mate, great description of the anxieties and hopes of a parent. I wondered if you knew about Winnicott and the potential space. It describes how creative relationships open up in a shared emotional space between humans- playing with objects is a step only to that emotional space

    hugs

    Noel

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  3. Understood. There are some things my girl can’t do with her peers either and I stand there among the midst of busy little bodies with my daughter and feel heavy with more emotion than one soul should ever have to feel at one time. But somehow, I still feel like we are the lucky ones to have the broader view in this life.

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