Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A cutting remark

So it was half term or something recently, and I forgot, and went into town. I usually plan in advance to avoid school holidays because the shopping centre gets full of sulky teenagers and crazy parents training toddlers to shop straight out of the pushchair. It's indoors too, which is a bonus when the teenies decide to have a temper tantrum, because then they don't get their little pink velour tracksuits muddy.

The thing that really gets my goat is there's a certain type of parent who, when they see somebody in a wheelchair 500 meters away, grasp their kid by the scruff of the neck and hauls them bodily away in the opposite direction. I don't mind this kind of thing if a kid is about to run out in front of me, but when they're miles away and the parents do it for no reason, they both end up looking at me like I'm a plague carrier. Which, I'll have you know, I am not.

I feel it's this kind of behaviour that teaches kids to grow up being afraid of disability, on account of a parent's over-reaction to a disabled person's presence by clawing them out of the way - when they were never in the way in the first place. With such behaviour from a parent, how can a kid can ever accept you're just another human being going about their daily business, with not the slightest intention of mowing anyone down out of sheer gleefulness that you have a cool wheelchair and they do not.

So. Where was I? Shopping centre. Half term holidays. Big mistake. I steeled myself for the inevitable signs of fear and loathing from parents, step-parents and assorted guardians.

Soon enough, a little kid about 10 feet away from me starts being dragged to one side, and notices I'm the reason why - whereupon she twists round to the man dragging her, points straight at me and shouts;

"Hey Dad! Look at that woman's lawnmower!"


And then the Dad, still hauling, says;

"Yes, darling!"

So somebody somewhere is letting their kid grow up thinking we're all going round on ride-on lawnmowers. He just let her think my wheelchair was a ride on bloody lawnmower. Honestly, you couldn't make it up.