Now, I am sure your mother always meant well but I am guessing that if you ever saw someone with a disability she told you not to stare.
Never stare. Unless it is longingly into the eyes of a loved one or maybe if you spot Tom Hardy when out.
Well, it certainly reduces the possibility that staring might happen later.
Don’t ask anything!
Are we expecting a stomach-curdling scary answer? Are we afraid of the answer? No, she probably worried about offending the person.
Move on quickly. Move away so that nothing uncomfortable happens.
Now look at it from the eyes of the child in the chair, the one who has just been pushed past the play park because there was no point going in. There was no accessible swing or roundabout and the grass was wet and too slippery anyway.
I am sad. I already feel awful. Then I see you.
You look away quickly and you tell your child not to look. Is it because I am too awful to look at? Is there really something so awful about me? You are trying to move your child away from me as quickly as you can because they looked like they wanted to talk to me and you don’t want them to talk to me.
I wish you would smile and talk to me. I want to tell you my name and that I like Minecraft. I want to ask if you have an iPad and if you know where my car is. I love my car.
So did your mother ever tell you what you should say?
If I am looking in your direction at the same time that you happen to look in mine just smile and say hello.
Tell your child to say “hi” and introduce themselves, just like they would if they wandered in to a playground and saw children playing but didn’t know them yet.
Conversation will just continue once it starts.
It is fine to notice my wheelchair. I have spotted it already!
I have cool wheels with Power Rangers on them and I love my chair. It is VERY cool. If you like Power Rangers too, or your brother did it is another part of a typical conversation. Everyday conversation, you can’t beat it.
It was nice to meet you and I hope we will see you again sometime.
See, it is easy once you start. You just made a friend.
Today I experienced a totally magical moment for a mother.
Magical to me.
We are very fortunate that we are part of a wonderful community. We took Adam out of school four years ago to give ourselves time to find a new school. Home education just worked and it is the best thing we ever did for Adam. He is happy, learning and has lots of friends.
Back to today.
Today we attended an event with a group of children that we don’t know very well and as we arrived a little girl who we have met before (but only enough to know each other’s name, not any great details of our lives), simply skipped up to Adam and asked if he wanted to play tag.
No preconceptions about whether he could. She just wanted to play with him.
That little girl absolutely made my day and I am sure she will become a lifelong friend.