Kids do the funniest things, don’t they?
I really admire children and the fact that they ask the questions their parents probably want to but are too afraid.
Often, when I bump into little ones in the street they’ll gaze at my walking frame in fascination, point to it and either ask me or the grown up they’re with what is and why I use it. Some of the time, the adult will tell the child to ask me for themselves when they notice that I’m grinning rather than looking irritated by their curiosity, but others get embarrassed and try and get them to walk away from me as fast as possible.
One day, much to my amusement, a toddler decided that they would use my old Kaye Walker frame Betsy as a climbing frame. If the youngster hadn’t been with an adult I would have probably been quite nervous. The adult kept trying to take the child way but he kept on coming back for another go. I just stayed very still and let them get it out of their system. I don’t think they were old enough to know that it was wrong, and I suppose to someone who is only about two (or maybe less- I’m not good with ages) that my walking frame probably does like a little like something that they would find in a park. It made me laugh. I’d never know a kid to do that before. The other grownup giggled nervously with me.
I’d always rather people ask me a question as long as they’re polite about the way they do it. I don’t mind people looking at the frame either. Martha is big and blue and not something a lot of people will see very often so it’s bound to catch your eye. It’s human nature especially when it comes to kids. It’s how they learn about anything in life so the issue of disability isn’t, and shouldn’t be, any different. If other adults want to know something I’m fine with that too. Chances are it won’t be the first time I’ve answered the exact same thing. How old the person is depends on what I tell them.. If it’s someone quite young who wants to know about my Cerebral Palsy I tell them that I’ve got poorly legs but don’t name my disability, and if it’s somebody older I tell them things in more detail
Once when I was very young a child walked right in front of me and asked very politely “Um, excuse me, but why have you got that?” his family looked horrified:
“Come on, it’s just like the one you’ve got a home” they scolded. I turned to them, assured them that it was okay and told him I had poorly legs. “Oh, ok then,” he said, happy enough and wondered away again. That was all it took.
Sometimes it gets a little awkward when I have to try and explain to them that being in a wheelchair isn’t as fun as it looks in their eyes , but I always try and balance it out by telling them that it comes in really handy if I’m going on a long visit so that I don’t have to try and find somewhere to sit.