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

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

  1. Simon

    Thanks for your frankness, stumbled on your blog via twitter. I’ve tried to bring my kids up to respect the differences in people for whatever reason they are different. Hopefully it’s worked as two of them now work in the additional learning support department of an FE college. Stay strong, stay positive, though it’s hard enough for those of us born normal to do so! You’re an inspiration

    1. Gem Turner

      Ah thank you Simon! Sounds like you’ve done a great job to me 🙂 Thanks for visiting my blog, very much appreciated!

  2. Kate

    At Stonehenge on Sunday my six year old rather frank daughter said at the top of her loud voice “look mummy that man looks like a monkey” I did do a slight panic cos some people don’t like being likened to a monkey. I said “is that because of his cheeky smile” and she laughed and agreed. The man then came up to us and asked her if it was because of his sticky out ears? Because lots of people called him a monkey, but Then said it was nice to hear he had a cheeky smile too and it had made his day. He did have a lovely smile!

    1. Gem Turner

      Ah I love this!! Yes you can never predict what kids will come out with next. Glad to hear the man could have a chuckle too 🙂

  3. WriterInAWheelchair

    It’s always slightly awkward in a way it doesn’t need to be isn’t it? I was recently introduced with “this is Emma and this is her special chair” and didn’t know what to make of it as I hadn’t realised my chair would need to be mentioned.

    1. Gem Turner

      Yes absolutely, I’ve had that too. I suppose I can see both sides as to me it’s just normal but to others it’s new and is the ‘elephant in the room’ so to speak. Glad you can relate too!

  4. Helen Otter

    I found your blog interesting. My son is a triple amputee and feels the same as you. Children are naturally curious and their remarks are not usually negative. He is tired of parents dragging their children away as if he is some nasty ogre and would rather the child did ask so as they could see him as a person. When out walking the other weekend a child shouted to her mum ‘look at that mans legs’ (he was wearing ‘stubby’ prosthetics) and her mum replied yes aren’t they funky legs, which I thought was brilliant.

    1. Gem Turner

      Hey Helen, thanks so much for visiting. It’s such a shame people do that to your son. I can totally relate (although not completely, as a wheelchair user). Ah yes love that mum’s reply, totally what I was trying to get across in this post. Seems like lots of people agree too! x

  5. Nanci

    I’m 41 and as a child I was always taught don’t look don’t stare … I can see how that mentality has isolated so many disabled people … people walking around trying to avoid eye contact because they don’t want it to look like their staring or noticing your differences. I would imagine if the questions are respectful you wouldn’t mind engaging in a discussion with kids or adults about your disability and in the end we’d all probably find we are all very much alike we might have different obstacles in life some worse than others but most of us just want to be accepted belong and feel welcomed by others. Loved your blog !

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  9. Jonathan

    I might be odd, but I like when kids stair and ask questions. The parents reactions are usally priceless and it give me a chance to try to explain my disability(Spina Bifida). My Nephew(7 at the time)once asked me what is it like to be in a wheelchair and I replied what is it like to walk and I think I broke his mind for a few seconds. I love inquisitive minds.

    1. Gem Turner

      Oh yes it’s always great when it’s light hearted and I’m in the right mood. It’s when parents are dragging children away that I think is disappointing and gives the wrong message about disability. Totally agree with you there though and LOVE your response to your nephew! 😅

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