I am the father to a three year old and a five year old. Unlike most daddies, my disability means that I can’t pick them up and carry them. This fact doesn’t really matter to them or to me. How much my inability to carry my kids doesn’t actually impact our lives struck home for me on Halloween.
My son, Silas, wants to do everything his older sister, Hazel, does. Of course, this sometimes is impossible or ends in a minor catastrophe. Other times, this just means that he has more courage to try things sooner than he would have without the example of an older sibling. This past Halloween was an example of the latter.
Hazel is just old enough to remember bits and pieces of what some folks refer to as “the before times,” when we didn’t have to wear a mask everywhere and constantly sanitize our hands for fear of dying alone in an ICU on a ventilator. Not surprisingly, one of the things that made the biggest impression on her pre-pandemic, rapidly developing brain was the experience of trick or treating. Like most families, we skipped the tradition in 2020 in an abundance of caution and a desire to not cause a super spreader event. So, after a year hiatus, she was ready to charge through the neighborhood in a DIY ballerina costume with her plastic jack-o-lantern bucket.
Silas didn’t quite have a full understanding of what was going on until he had followed her through the process as we visited a handful of houses. It didn’t take long for him to jump into the chaos. As the night wore on, however, and we blew past his normal 7 P.M. bedtime, “Cat Boy” began to slowly fall behind. His spirit was willing, but his toddler body was weak. The two-year age difference between him and his sister became very apparent, as he just didn’t have the stamina to keep up the breakneck pace of his sister and her pals from the house next door.
That is where my Edge® 3 Power Wheelchair came in. Without a second thought, he gave me one look and hopped up on to my chair with me, as he often does. Clutching his half full candy bucket with a vice-like grip, I became his personal trick or treating chauffer, zooming between houses so that he could jump off and sprint up to the front door to collect his ransom. Perhaps there are some non-disabled dads that could or would have carried a 30-lb. child over several blocks for candy collection. I can’t imagine why that would be better than a power wheelchair ride, and Silas didn’t seem to mind.
About Joe Stramondo: Joe is an assistant professor at San Diego University and is extremely active in the disability community. Joe uses an Edge 3 Power Wheelchair to maintain his mobility and independence. In his spare time, Joe strives to be the best father he can to his children. Click here to learn more about Joe.