The line between celebrating little wins and being patronising
I remember the first achievement I did when I was a child and that was to zip up my yellow raincoat. My dad had taught me to hold the two bits together (which was physically tough in itself) then I had to somehow hold the bottom of both while pulling the zip!? Anyway, I did and I went to school and told all of my friends. They all celebrated with me too. Wehey.
I’ve always been very vocal about these little wins. Whether that’s picking something up with my grabber like a tiny tablet or holding something heavy whilst driving my chair. Everything is a little challenge and the feeling of euphoria when you succeed never gets old.
But as I get older I’ve been thinking about the reactions from both strangers and friends when I succeed in what’s deemed as a “small task”. Last year I moved house and I’ve been sharing massive goals like making cheese on toast on my own or managing to reach the pack of toilet rolls from the highest shelf.
I was thinking about my activism and how in the past I’ve asked people to treat me as the age I am. Because being patronising is the biggest bug bear of mine. But I also understand that when I say “wow I managed to fry an egg on my own”, it can be hard to know how to reply without being patronising.
I don’t want “wow you’re so inspirational, we have to count our blessings – you make me feel so lucky!” Etc. But I’d also really like people to empathise and understand that for me – this is big and I’m really happy about it!
So what’s my point? I suppose my point is, acknowledging someone’s achievements means a lot. It’s also taken me a long time to be proud of sharing these moments and not feel embarrassed (hello internalised ableism). So if your disabled pal achieves something, acknowledge and celebrate it with them.
Right, back to mi cheese on toast!