A Girl and Her Bows

Maddie loves to dress up. If she had the final say in it, she would wear a dress every time she left the house. She has also grown to love to accessorize. One day when we were getting her dressed, I put on her shirt, then paused and jokingly asked what she was missing, figuring she would tell me her pants. Instead her little hands quickly went to her head, and with a look of shock on her face she shouted “My bow!” With her love of accessories so evident, it was only natural that we deck out her wheelchair with as many “bows” as we could. When we ordered her newest chair, the salesman went down a laundry list of features it could include. As he wrapped up, I told him to make sure to add light up casters (front wheels) and a monogram, these things in Maddie’s mind being as crucial as the seat belt. He shrugged and nodded, not fully grasping the importance these “bows” served. Every time Maddie introduces herself to a new person it is always the same transcript. “Hey! What’s your name? My name is Maddie Kate. Look my wheels light up!” It’s a joy and level of acceptance she shares with every stranger that has the privilege of crossing her path. She also revels in reading the letters of her name that adorn the back of her chair. We weren’t really happy with the way it came from the manufacturer so a friend made her a custom monogram patch with pink polka dots we affixed to the back. She picked bright pink for the base of the chair and I must say, it does seem to add extra pizzazz to her twirls! Her newest additions to her chair sprang from her and her daddy’s mutual love of stuffed animals. She now has hello kitty and beanie baby penguin clip-ons on her straps, tagging along for all of her adventures.

These things may seem small, as the salesman clearly believed, but they hold within them a secret power. Each accessory carries with it a little bit of magic in the eyes of a four year old, causing other little kids to “ooh and awe” over her cool wheels. In Maddie’s eyes, her chair is her carriage, her magic carpet that flies her away to any adventure her heart desires. This chariot is her ticket to independence, as well as her super fun ride down any ramp in sight.

With all her chair is, there are also a few things her chair is not. It is not a cause of embarrassment. It is not a hindrance to experiencing a life of fulfillment and joy. It is not something that she wants to hide. Maddie uses her wheels with pride and shows the world that nothing in this life can slow her down. She is a constant reminder that there is freedom in embracing whatever lot you have drawn by joyfully rolling with her own.


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