Collin has a backpack. It is red and black with wide straps and lots of compartments. He carries it on the back of his wheelchair; or, if we're going somewhere without the wheelchair, on the back of one of his parents.
The contents are nothing like what I imagined my six year-old packing up and lugging around.
The backpack carries our second tier essentials - items that are half a step away from being nonnegotiable.
- Noise canceling headphones. Collin's uncle picked these out as a Christmas gift one year and they are one of our best and most-used tools. Because he can slip into sensory overload depending on the size/acoustics/vibe of a public place, these provide the perfect way for Collin to continue enjoying himself in a place that would otherwise bother him. And he looks really good in them.
- Extras. Extra g-tube. Extra syringe and extension. Extra gauze.
- Venting syringe. Everybody burps. Even people whose esophagus has been turned into a one-way valve via Nissen wrap. Collin burps by hooking a short extension with a smallish syringe minus its plunger to his g-tube and letting the air out. Just opening the tube port doesn't work because it is also a one way valve. Let too much air accumulate in that tummy, and you have a problem on your hands.
- Pullups and wipes. Collin is potty trained, but accidents do happen.
- iPad. Our portal to all things good. The iPad is a life saver in so many situations. It is the workhorse of our daily life. It is in use probably ten hours a day, whether for videos, audiobooks, music, vision exercises, or hand use practice. Paired with the noise canceling headphones, it can fix virtually any problem.
- Food and meds. Because of Collin's diet, we can't pick up food for him while we're out. So we need to know how long we will be gone - or more specifically, how many mealtimes that will span - and bring that many jars of precisely calculated and measured food, along with accompanying supplements.
- Norwex cloth. Collin's drooling (or 'drizzling', as his cousin calls it) has gotten SO MUCH BETTER over recent years, but some positions still make it hard to control. These cloths are super absorbent and anti-microbial, which is good considering how rarely I remember to put them in the laundry.
- Some normal things. Lotion. Glasses cleaner and case. A deer or duck call. (What?! You don't carry animal noisemakers in your bag?!)
When we were little, my sister and cousins and I always packed bags for our adventures. Toys, books, snacks, a picnic blanket that could double as a cape or a tent in a pinch. There is part of me that aches at how different Collin's bag is from ours.
But there is another, steadily growing part of me that sees that Collin's backpack IS packed for adventure. Because of what's in that bag, we can go to the park, to restaurants, to the zoo and the orchestra. Because of that bag of items, we are free to venture out our door and into the world.