When I was little I was afraid of growing up. I knew I would get heavier and bigger, more difficult for my parents to handle and there was nothing I could do. Soon enough, I'd get taller than my mom. If I fell down while walking in my braces how would she catch me? Every day my parents carried me up the stairs to my classroom, grabbing me under my arms, taking on the weight, trying to walk with me. But their backs grew weaker, they were in pain more often, it seemed like soon enough it would end. If they didn't have the strength, how would I ever finish school? What would become of me? I knew I'd possibly have a tutor come over, but I'd be stuck at home. It happened to many kids with Cerebral Palsy in my area. The parents got too weak and just gave up. And without that routine, something to look forward to, depression set in. I could see that being me. Looking at the outside world through a window in my room. A friend or two would come once in a while at first to keep me company, but if I wasn't there in class on daily basis they would certainly move on. Children look into their future with excitement. In mine, I saw my parents aging. And I knew that one day they'd be gone. No child should have have these emotions, these thoughts . But most of all I felt powerless. And I saw that I'm bringing my parents pain, exhaustion and there was nothing I could do. I felt I was disappointing them because in spite of all the rehabilitation I had to still rely on them and they struggled more and more. Every school trip, every time our class decided to go to the movie involved stairs, lifting me, loading an unloading, and each time it was more taxing on my parents. I might've been small, but I've seen it. How could have I not sensed that things were changing around me? And the worst thing was I was alone with these feelings. And I know that they were fearing for my future. And they kept it from me as well. Note that in Poland back then we didn’t have ramps and limps everywhere. Dealing with a child with a physical disability had to get very… well, physical. A lot of parents didn’t have the strength. A mind is a horrible thing to waste. Isn’t it bizarre to think that a lot of great minds had been wasted not because intellectual challenges but something as trivial as a flight of stairs?
Whenever I talk about growing up with CP I focus a lot on the sacrifices my parents made but also how it got harder on them over time. During one of my speeches a mother came up and said she's going through something similar with her daughter, but that she never considered what she may be picking up on. Children are young but they know things I replied. It was hard enough to know I was different from my friends. As we got older they played sports, sailed, went trekking across Europe, the things I could never be a part of. But to watch my parents push themselves year after year, wondering if that was as far as I go was a feeling that didn’t leave me until law school