“Mummy, look at that little girl!” | Disability and Children

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Staring is something I deal with a lot. Most of the time I zone it out because I’m getting on with my day. But sometimes there are moments when you just can’t ignore it. When I’m out in public, I hear kids shouting things like “Mummy look at that small girl”. This is usually in the middle of the city centre with a large audience around and I’m doing something really un-glamorous, like eating some chicken nuggets. Yum.

Most of the time I smile and wave. In this blog I thought I’d talk about the different reactions parents and adults have when their children shout this out and rank the reactions in order of preference. Because why not ey…

So, I would say 80% adults react by dragging and I mean DRAGGING their kids to the side and quickly getting them out of my sight. This is awkward for everyone involved. Poor kid. To be fair if I saw me and I wasn’t me, I think I’d say the same (at their age). I mean they’ve said nothing wrong really. I am very little, and they’ve probably not seen someone like me very often, if at all. I always and try and smile and say hello wanting to say “I know right!”

Dragging children away from said scene actually just creates a negative view and memory for them. So next time they see a disabled person, they have learnt to stay away and JUST DON’T LOOK. Which explains a lot of why people in general sometimes don’t often come up to me and have a chat. I usually have to be the first one to say hello in any situation.

Doing this also means that the child is left with unanswered questions. One time this happened, mid-drag a child ask ‘WHY IS SHE LIKE THAT’ and the mum said ‘she’s got poorly arms and legs’. HA. Obviously the mum panicked, but it did make me chuckle.

I wonder when my arms and legs will get better ey..?

Now, some adults will say “oh yes why don’t you go and say hello and ask her why” lol. ere we go. Obviously this is so much better than dragging your child away and I love to talk, if you don’t already know. This does however, put pressure on me and any other disabled person to try and educate people. On a good day, this is doable. On a day where i’m tired and hangry, I’m not always up for a debrief on life so far. I always remember this happening just as I was about to get a train. Imagine having to summarise your life in 30 seconds. Long story short (literally) – i made it. phew.

So gem, what’s the best thing to do I hear you say… the best reply I’ve ever heard is a woman say is “yes, and look at her very sparkly shoes – aren’t they lovely”. Obviously, I was buzzing as I am a sucker for a compliment. But it also allowed the child an opportunity to have a look without feeling like it was inappropriate or wrong to do so. The child had a look, smiled and carried on. Lovely. Back to my nuggets.

So to the adults out there who are faced with this scenario, try not to panic – face the conversation head on. You don’t have to know the ins and outs of anyone’s disability but it would be great if you set a positive example. If in doubt – compliment their shoes. It works wonders…

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