Ari was about two years old when I had this conversation with our beloved pedatrician, a doctor that held true to his beliefs of practicing medicine and serving the patients that he saw daily. He was a miracle worker in our eyes and will always hold a special place in our hearts. He saw our children for twenty years before he closed his private practice and pursued other professional dreams, Thanks Dr. K!!! We still miss you dearly.
So...getting back to our conversation over 10 years ago. It went something like this: "Dr. K, I think we need a temporary handicapped placard. Ari is getting bigger and it's getting a little dangerous dodging cars while I carry her through the parking lots for all the appointments we have. The weekly blood draws, the Dr. visits, and trying to make it to all the school activities for Lindsay and Nic is getting more challenging. Last week I thought we were going to be roadkill when we had a near miss with a truck. What do you think? His reply: " Kelli, I think you need a permanent placard, not a temporary one, I will complete a DMV form for you right now". "Uh, no, that's not what I want", was my immediate reply. "I want a TEMPORARY ONE!!!! not a permanent one Dr.K". And so the conversation ensued, me with my optimistic attitude that Ari's disabilities would be temporary in nature, and he with his realistic, empathic confrontation that we were going to need all the supports in place for the long haul. I was stubborn and held my own in this discussion. But in the end the reality was that these disablilities are permanent and not going away. Permanent placard versus Kelli, and the Placard Wins, Ugh!
So three weeks later, the Blue Placard arrived in the mail. It looked so sterile, official, and final. It had Ari's name on the document. The DMV issues this paperwork accompanied with all the rules/regs for its use. The form must be kept in our auto while we transport Ari; said disabled person, named on it. Ding, Ding, Ding...So, here is your Passport to Disability, you are now boarding the flight to Cerebral Palsy. Please have your ID ready! I learned I needed to laugh and poke fun at my obstinance in order to cope. Despite my humor, I still had all these mixed emotions, maybe we didn't really need this?? Maybe all this would eventually go away? But I also knew that I had better cave to the practical necessities in order to make life easier. So we christened the "Pasport" at the next medical appointment with Dr. K, approriately so. Lindsay and Nic thought it was great, they got premier parking wherever we went with Ari. Afterall, teenagers love convenience, so they were like "this is so cool!!!" They were relieved that we could arrive at our destinations on time and leave sooner, imagine that? Parking the car at public places could once again be deemed a simple thing in life. Score One for the Placard.
Today, the Placard serves us well. It is like a loyal and dedicated friend. It never complains or talks back. It is used multiple times daily. It is committed to seeing us through all those crazy parking lots at schools, hospitals, public buildings, airports, state parks, etc. I must not forget the parking lots at our running events either. We would certainly not have enough space to assemble Ari's adaptive racing chair without a handicapped spot. Worse yet, we might not even make it to a race start line on time without accessible parking. Yes, the Placard has seen both the best and worst of places. It has heard us complain and vent, say a terse word or two at illegal cars parked in handicapped spots. But the placard is a good listener and never judges or repeats what is said behind closed car doors. Everything is kept confidential with the Placard. So I have come a long way these past ten years in learning to live with what I once considered an unneccessary reminder of Ari's disabilities. Cheers to my on-going relationship with the Placard!
~Wishing you Miles of Smiles,