“Mandy’s Therapy,” Friend, June 1996, 35
“Can we go to the park today, Mommy?” Judy shouted on her way to the kitchen.
But when she got to the kitchen, no one was there.
She heard noises in the family room, so she went to look. There on the floor was her two-year-old sister, Mandy. Mommy was bent over her, smiling.
“Come on, Mandy Pandy, you can do it,” Mommy said.
“Can we, Mommy?” Judy asked louder.
“What, dear?” Mommy said without looking up.
“Go to the park!”
“Judy, you know that today is Mandy’s therapy day.”
“But she always gets therapy. We never go to the park anymore,” Judy whined.
Mommy looked at her with a sad face. Judy went outside and sat on the front porch swing. She swung back and forth and thought about her mother’s sad look. She knew she had put it there, and she didn’t like it.
“Hi, Judy,” a cheerful voice called from the bottom step.
“Hi,” she mumbled to the therapist, Mrs. Bybee.
“Could I swing with you for a minute?”
Judy shrugged her shoulders.
Mrs. Bybee sat down, and soon the swing was smoother. “You look awfully sad on such a pretty day.”
“I wanted to go to the park, but we can’t because of Mandy’s therapy.”
“Oh. I see.”
“Ever since the doctor said that Mandy has cere-cere—”
“Yeah, cerebral palsy,” Judy said. “Now all Mommy and Daddy do is therapy with Mandy.”
“That’s not much fun for you, is it?” Mrs. Bybee asked understandingly.
Judy shook her head, then asked, “What’s cerebral palsy? After Mandy was born, Daddy told me, but I forgot.”
“It’s when damage to the brain makes it harder to use your muscles, usually in your arms, legs, and mouth,” Mrs. Bybee explained.
“How did Mandy get it?”
“She had a hard time being born, and oxygen didn’t reach her brain at first. That kept her brain from making her muscles work right.”
Mrs. Bybee smiled at Judy. “You know what—I bet you would be a great therapist for Mandy.”
“Yes! Let’s go see.” She took Judy’s hand as they went into the house. “Hello, Mrs. Collins. Hello, Mandy,” she greeted them. Then she told Judy, “Let’s sit on the floor by your sister.”
Judy sat down and wiggled her pointer finger toward Mandy. Mandy tried to reach for the finger, but couldn’t touch it.
“That’s wonderful, Judy,” Mrs. Bybee told her. “Getting Mandy to reach for your finger is good therapy.”
Judy beamed. Then she looked puzzled. “But she couldn’t do it.”
“That’s why we do therapy,” Mrs. Bybee explained. “One of these days she will be able to do it. For Mandy, therapy is trying to get her to move—and you’re probably the best person to give her therapy right now.”
“Why is that?” Mommy asked the therapist.
“Big sisters have a lot of energy. And sometimes they can do things over and over again when moms and dads can’t.”
“Ga!” Mandy said.
Judy laid on her stomach, with her face only inches away from Mandy’s face and said, “Ga!” Mandy smiled. “Did you see that?” Judy said excitedly.
Mrs. Bybee nodded. “You’re her big sister, and she wants to do things for you. In fact, she might do more things for you than for me or your mother.”
Judy saw that Mommy had a happy face now. Judy looked back at Mandy, who was still watching her big sister.
“Judy, you can help Mandy by getting her favorite toys and trying to get her to reach for them. It’s good, too, to repeat whatever she says. She needs to make lots of sounds so that she can learn to talk,” Mrs. Bybee explained.
“But that’s playing,” Judy said.
Mrs. Bybee nodded. “Therapy is a lot like playing.”
“Do you think Mandy might enjoy going to the park?” Mommy asked.
“I think that’s a great idea,” the therapist said. “It would be good for her to see and feel different things, like sand and grass.”
“Yippee! We get to go to the park, Mandy Pandy!” Judy exclaimed happily. “Just wait until I show you the swings and all the other fun things there!”