What is it about?

The rollercoaster adventures of parenting three kids, dealing with disability and mental health - and discussing disability discrimination and how to tackle it.

Monday, 2 July 2007

Conversation Stopper

Hubby took all three the kids on the train on Sunday (while i caught up on some sleep after sharing my bed with two crook kids). They loved the ride, especially Boo Boo, who made lots of loud appreciative noises.
On the way back, hubby was sitting next to an elderly couple. After a few looks and smiles, they started talking to him. They were coo-cooing about how beautiful our children are, how handsome they looked and all that (I can't disagree!). Then they started to chat, and asked questions, you know, like their names and ages. They did not seem to notice anything special about Master Determined, or at least they didn't say. Then they got to Boo Boo, who was sitting being smiley and cute in her pram. They asked her name, and then age.
"Ah, is she walking yet?"
Hubby said "no, not yet"
"No, not yet."
"No, not sitting either. She has cerebral palsy."
And that was the end of the conversation. No more was said. There were still some smiles, but that was that. Now they were an older Asian couple, so maybe they just didn't understand what Cerebral Palsy meant, and were too shy to ask. Maybe they were embarrassed on our behalf - that happens a lot, people just don't know what to say to us.
I remember my awkwardness around people with a disability. You want to be nice, while not being patronising. You want to treat people normal, while at the same time you feel you shouldn't pretend the difference is not there either, that seems fake. This is one of the most wonderful things my children have taught me. They are different, and some of their friends are different, and i have learned - and am still learning every day - to look for the person behind the disability.
Vive la difference! We are lucky to have people with a disability in our lives. And yes, we have gorgeous looking kids.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hallo Heike,
Ja, dat laatste verhaal is tuperend voor mensen. zij weten gewoon ermee om te gaan als een kind gehandicapt ist. Maar in dit geval ist het natuurlik ook mogelijk, dat zij het woord cp niet kennen. Als je het hier aan iemand zegt, snapt er ook niemand wat van.
Weet je je wat tof is??? Dat jullie mooie en schattige kinderen zulke fantastische ouders hebben, met heel veel liefde, geduld en akzeptance voor dingen in het leven en niet te vergeten de nodige intelligentie.
Heel veel liefs