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Jungle Jim

No, I’m not heading to the Amazon for an adventure trip. But I have experienced some interesting situations that opened my eyes once again. 
Everyone has been to a playground and played on or watched kids play on a jungle gym. Through the eyes of a child, it is just a structure that provides a challenge and enjoyment. 
Once I started to use my electric wheelchair, I noticed many different reactions. Kids around 5-8 years old give you a good stare. You can see their brain working overtime trying to figure out what is going on with me. Why is he in this chair and how does it work? Kids around 10-13 years old give me looks but many times give me a smile, and you can see a sense of compassion beginning at a young age. After the age of 15, it is the old 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of people are considerate and helpful, but 20 percent are oblivious and inconsiderate. 
That leaves the 1-3 year olds. What do they think about when they see me and my chair? Well, apparently, I can be a fun jungle gym. I heard a similar story from another ALS patient. To these young and innocent children, this is a great climbing apparatus. This chair that I’m dependent upon and screams disability to me, screams something completely different to a very young child. The 3 year olds are fascinated with the buttons and joystick, and ask questions about every hook, wheel and pad. I take them for rides and let them sit on my lap to experience the chair fold almost flat so we can lay down. The youngest children use the chair to pull themselves up and climb, making me and my chair a true Jungle Jim. 
What do I take from this? I want to be around a lot more 1-3 year olds. I’m not disabled around them. I’m interesting and different but in a cool way; at least my chair is. I hope my daughter never tires of going for rides with me on my lap. It is a moment we share that means more to me than she realizes as she continues to grow up. Once you become “different,” you sense the stares and reactions very quickly. But it is always refreshing to get the stares and reactions from young children before their innocence gets lost in our complicated world. 

2 responses to “Jungle Jim

  1. Judy joerndt ⋅

    Oh Jim…how true. Our grand daughter loved enjoying warren’s walker and later his chair. It was her way of playing with grandpa.. She helped every step of the way with his lift, his suction and made him smile and laugh. Every day I will pray for you and others that tomorrow will be as good as today. Thank you for sharing your journey.

  2. Jenny Fink ⋅

    You amaze me, every time you write a new blog, I look forward to reading it. You’ve taken your disease, taken anything and everything positive out of it. I’ve always known you were a good person, terrific father, and true friend to the people you know, but since I’ve found out about your disease I have come to really see how amazing you really are. You are an inspiration and blessing to everyone you meet and I am very proud to know you. I hope you get many 1-3 year olds to play on your Jungle Jim. Jenny

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