Thursday, 9 March 2017

Ask don't Stare

Last weekend we were in a local supermarket and, as usual, most people either ignored me in my wheelchair or tried not to stare while staring none the less.  I am used to it now and with my sight loss I don't even see it happening, but it really bothers Rachel who gets wound up by the behaviour.

But she and I were reminded just how lovely some people can be when two little boys (probably about 3 and 5 years old) ran up to me 

"Excuse me, excuse me; why are you in a yellow chair?"
"Because if I tried to walk like you I'd fall over quite quickly"
"How does it work?"
"I use this joystick to go forward and backwards and left and right"
"Can we have a go?"
"Sorry no, that's not safe, but you can press the horn button if you want"
So they pressed the horn button
And then their mum emerged 
"No boys, no, don't touch, come away, come on"
"Don't worry
I reassured her 
"They are fine"
"Boys, come away, stop bothering her
she said without actually speaking to me.  
And off they went chatting about how clever my wheelchair is.

Rachel and I were so happy to have had this interaction with the boys; it is just wonderful to be able to talk to people and answer the questions they are bound to have.  Rachel summed it up perfectly
"Young kids aren't scared about asking but when they grow up they learn (wrongly) that they mustn't ask because it's rude.  But then they just stare because they are still curious."

She's so wise.  Our curiosity about difference doesn't diminish as we get older, it's just that societal norms tell us we shouldn't ask about people's personal business.  And of course there might be people who don't want to be asked; but I'd much rather have a conversation with people, especially friendly kids, than be stared at or ignored.

So if you ever see me out this is my permission 
in fact it's an invitation 
to ask me anything you want, 
within reason.  

And please don't ever rush your kids away, 
they might just be the highlight of my day.

1 comment:

jonathonh said...

O God - here we go - yes I'm nearly as ignorant as the rest - but as I know Katie a little and know she's active on Facebook - in for a penny in for etc.
I often wonder what it must be like - I'm exceptionally well blessed with good health, and am now older than I would like to be - next one is the big 7. Yes I would glance in the supermarket, can't help it, but I do admire those who are more restricted than I am and admire anyone with disabilities who just get on with it. I particularly admire one of the lady weather people on TV who has a shortened right arm and just gets on with it - viewing public notwithstanding - and she's a capable as the next person - wow what confidence.
But I know we ALL have our disabilities, most of which are not observable and therefore don't draw stares of embarrassment or curiosity - so God bless you all with the courage simply to be regardless!!