Monday, May 19, 2008

Blind woman and toddler-Everyday Courage

Blind Woman and her toddler

A black Labrador seeing-eye dog guides a blind woman into the sing along story-time at this library around my way. The woman has a toddler in a carrier on her back. He looks at us and waves. She seems familiar with the layout. There are tables pushed against a wall. Her fingers trail the tables as the dog guides her through the rec room. Women and children open up the circle for them. She sits on the floor and takes the toddler out of the backpack. Mamas, dads, nanas and nannies sit on a blue alphabet mat with sweet chubby babies on our laps. Several of the children refuse to sit still and are being chased. The story-time lady gives everyone rattles to make music with. She forgets the lyrics to "We're going to Kentucky."

The blind woman’s little boy has a monkey backpack with a leash attached to it. He keeps having to be pulled back away from the crates of colorful scarves and furry animal puppets that he can see. She tries to hold him while singing, "Are you sleeping". Her baby sits for a moment and he gets squirmy. He has bells on the back of his sandals so she can keep auditory tabs on him.
The child next to the beautiful shiny black seeing eye dog is playing with it's tail. It does not react. The dog lays heavy on the mat waiting for his next task. The children pet him, some avoid him as we march around in a circle. The mom stays to the side and marches in place leaving the dog in the center.
At the end of the story-time a few of us are left gathering our children and talking. The blind mom comments on her son missing his nap the day before. This gets us all into a lively toddler sleep deprivation discussion. She gathers her son and herself to leave. I stay behind as my daughter climbs up and down and up and down a few steps and stands next to her toddler friends.
I sometimes find it challenging to leave the house with my own toddler. There are diapers with changing pad and snacks, wipes, entertainment, stroller, change of clothes, juice, book. Then your own keys, phone, bag, money, jacket... Then the getting changed and dressed and shoes on....I tried to imagine what she dealt with doing it as a blind person. Leaving the house has to be an act of daily courage. Could I be that brave in my everyday life?

I wondered how she got to the story-time. And one day I saw her waiting for the light to change, toddler on her back and her seeing-eye dog very attentive as cars and buses rumble passed.

I saw her again recently, this time walking with just the walking stick and her toddler with the same monkey backpack with the leash attached. They walked up the block to the bus stop where I was. They turned the corner as a bus pulled up. Her child said, "Bus mommy."
She said, "Already?"
I said, "It's a 22 bus."
"That's what I need."She said. The bus driver lowered the bus steps for her to get on easier. She picked up her son and put him on. She stepped in and up and then went in her pocket for change. Doors close. My older daughter and her friend who had witnessed the two were staring at the departing bus. Then they looked at each other in amazement and said, "Whoa!"
And then I see her at the supermarket. She is pushing a stroller and is carrying a basket. There is a somber looking worker walking with her. I hear her say, "sweet potatoes".
I wonder if he will help her pick good produce.