Talking wheelchairs with my son

When should I come out to my friends? When should I have “the talk” with my kids? When should I explain to my son why I use a wheelchair?

I guess there isn’t the ‘perfect’ time to have any of these conversations. So in the car this afternoon, after a rainy Sunday trip to Sylvia Park, I decided to broach the topic of my wheelchair with my 3-year-old son Lachie, who was sitting in the back seat.

“Hey Lach, you know how Dad uses a wheelchair,” I venture.

“Yeah,” he replies, playing with his Emily train.

“Do you know why dad uses a wheelchair?”

“I don’t know!” he says, as if the fact he didn’t know had only just occurred to him.

“Well, it’s because my legs don’t work properly,” I say. I figure I should start him off easy.

“My legs work properly,” he counters. Bloody toddlers. It’s always about them. “And Jim’s. And Mum’s.”

“That’s right! Your legs work really well. But not Dad’s. He needs a wheelchair.”

“Yeah. One wheelchair for you!” he decrees.

And that was it! End of conversation. I imagine we’ll travel further down this particular conversational path in the future, but for now, I’m glad I provided some space for him to acknowledge this part of his dad and let him know that he can ask me questions as they come to him. All in good time.

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