Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Evolution of Playtime

I never realized it before but when I was a wee criplet I must’ve been full of self-loathing because I was crippled. It’s a wonder I didn’t grow up to be an axe murderer.

The criplets of today are way ahead. There are plenty of crippled dolls around to help them feel better about themselves. They came out with a crippled Barbie friend a long time ago. And now there’s a crippled Lego kid. All the experts on child development agree that this is good. There comes a time in the life of every crippled child, or every child who’s different for that matter, when they long to see people like themselves represented positively in pop culture.

I didn’t have any crippled dolls when I was a criplet. I suppose if wanted to have one, I would have had to make one myself by hacking an arm or leg off one of my G.I. Joes or something. (I don't think being without genitals counts as crippled in the case.) But I never felt the urge to have a crippled doll. Never once crossed my mind. If one of my G.I. Joes came up missing a limb, I either would have tossed it in the trash or relegated it to playing the role of the wounded guy.

Criplets today can at least occasionally see a crippled kid who looks like them in a movie or on television. For a long time I never saw any crippled kids like me in movies or on television and I never particularity wanted to. In fact, the first time I saw a crippled kid on television, I was horrified. It was one of those telethons and they trotted out a crippled kid and everybody gushed over him and patted him on the head until I wanted to puke. I was terrified that the next time I went out in public everybody would treat me that way. So I prayed that no crippled kid would ever be allowed on television ever again.

And when I was a kid, none of the storybooks told stories about crippled kids. If an adult asked me if I wanted to read a storybook about a crippled kid I would have said hell no. I would have been afraid that it would be a story about a crippled kid who appears on a telethon and everybody gushes over him and pats him on the head until I want to puke.

It just goes to show how much I secretly must’ve hated being crippled. The less I was reminded of it the better. When ambushed with the reality, I tried to drown it out with the white noise of denial and avoidance. That's what playtime was for.

The only reason I didn’t become an axe murderer was because I’m crippled. I can’t lift an axe.

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