"what do you tell your kids when they ask about someone with a disability?"
and the heads turned my direction.
well, my oldest was barely three and non verbal for the most part so honestly, i had never run into this situation before. but i understood the question and the concern behind the question.
you know how kids are...always curious...and sometimes their questions are innocently asked in very loud and distracting ways.
so i pondered the question, what would i tell my children...but more importantly what would i want done if camden or i were the ones the child was asking about?
i think today and in years past the way you dealt with disability was to ignore it...and it ended up that we ignored the people in general. think about it, you're in a public situation...you see someone in a wheelchair and your four year old suddenly starts to stare and tug on your sleeve...then the pointing starts and you start to sweat...what is going to come out of your child's mouth? Your instincts are to duck your head and flee the scene as quickly as possible, before someone notices the tiny finger pointing and the little mouth running. it's natural...and i probably would have done the same before camden, but what does that teach our children? it teaches them that that person is different, maybe even scary, not to be talked to or acknowledged or even looked at.
so i thought about the situation my friend had earlier found herself in and then realized...i would want her to teach her child to say hello.
let me let you in on a secret...people with disabilities, or parents of children with disabilities, aren't looking to avoid people. they aren't often offended by innocent questions...and a smile and a wave can go a very long way.
so what would i say to my four year old? i would kneel down, and say: "yes, that person gets to walk with a chair...isn't that neat? do you want to go say hello?"
because that's what i would hope someone would do for me...or camden. because that simple two second detour from our routine would teach that child that we are more alike than different, that everyone deserves a hello.