Have you ever been in so much discomfort that it feels like your whole body is burning itself from the inside out? This kind if pain should only be reserved for when you get knocked out by David Haye or go scuba diving with jellyfish. That has nothing on the cause of pain for my spasming wreck of a body though; I've just gone ten rounds with a personal trainer who has a bad day. It's the kind of tiredness that makes even getting dressed a near-on impossibility. I swear I just spent a good five minutes vacantly starting at the ceiling, I wouldn't be surprised if in those five minutes I had lost all control my face muscles and was dribbling as well! Though pitifully I hope this provokes some sympathy from you - I can see you shaking your head already - this isn't a vital point of today's blog post. It's just some mood setting so you can understand my motivation for the rest of the post.
Sitting here in the gym cafe where I am tasked to past the next THREE HOURS, until I can grab a lift home, I have been mindfully pondering what shenanigans I should bore you lovely people with today. I've been quite content. That is until I was faced with an ignorant mother and her child. I have absolutely no problem with children been inquisitive when it comes to my disability, in fact, if anything, I'd like to think I actively encourage it. Most of the time it’s the first instance when they have come into contact with a person in a wheelchair and I would rather them ask question and learn oppose to going away not understanding; it's that which leads to ignorance and sometimes even fear. I hate to think anyone would be scared of me due to my disability or wheelchair, but it's happened. I have a four-year old sister and that was my biggest worry when my dad told me that my step-mum was pregnant. Other than an older sister, with whom my relationship is sadly non-existent, I was practically an only child and never needed that acceptance from a child. I'd often felt throughout my life that I needed to gain acceptance from people to see me as 'normal', but the thought of a little person who was genetically part of me not accepting me was frightening. I had questions in my mind like, what if I find it hard to bond with her because I can't run around playing with her? Or what's worse, what if she was ashamed of me? I know now that these worries were ridiculous and are just my own insecurities surfacing. She is a bright, cheeky and beautiful little munchkin of a sister who knows her own mind and is growing up to be open-minded dazzling little lady. This despite her occasional tendencies to behave unexplainably like a cat and her complete and utter energetic craziness for EVERYTHING. I've never seen anyone able to play with fluff so enthusiastically.
After my run in with the gym mother and her son, I realized how lucky I am to have her as a sister. I was surprised that two children, roughly the same age, can have such two contrasting mentalities. I don't blame the child. I blame his mother. I know he was guided by his mother’s judgmental attitudes, which makes it worse right? I'm not a mother yet so correct me if I'm wrong, but bring up a child is about nourishment. Part of your parental responsibilities is to nourish their natural inquisitiveness and individual personalities. Not allow them to judge before they have a concept of judgement. It might surprise you how often I see this ignorance in children. I have come to expect it from adults, after a pretty intense experience I had while on a night out a few month back - I haven't been able to write about it since - but I hope to share it with you soon. Yet I've had children following me around supermarkets kicking my wheelchair, calling me a cripple and parents pulling their children away from me in the street, like I'm going to run them down of something; seems ridiculous to me. When did we become a nation who allowed that? I sometimes have to remind myself that for every person who will slam a door in your face there is one that will open it; and that goes for children. I hope my sister will be the latter.
It might have been these contemplation's or my increasing tiredness which made me think about my family, I tend to come over all emotional when I'm tired, but seeing the way that child was made me proud that my sister will grow up being one less judgmental person in the world. That's not to say that the little boy, may not have a change of heart, I hasten to add. I'd hate to be the one to verbally condemn a four-year old to a preconceived life of ignorance. So, as sentimental as it may be, this post is for my sister. Today is not about righting the wrongs in society but about praising what I see as good. I only hope that this will encourage more people to allow their children the chance to have an open mind.
Let me begin to round this post off by telling a little anecdote, which I'm not sure ever her parents know, about my sister that perfectly sums up her adorableness and why she is absolutely ruddy fantastic! A few months back we were at the park, my sister, dad, step-mum and me. While in the midst of an intergalactic mission on the giant metal spaceship, my sister and I were joined on our fictional adventure by another child. We continued to fly our way through the sparkly, pink atmosphere to reach a faraway mystical kingdom when our newly acquainted passenger suddenly asked my sister why I was in a wheelchair. I watched her little face crease as she processed the question; I guess she never really had need to consider it before. Initially she shrugged and carried on playing and I told the other child that my legs don't work properly and that was why. It was a few seconds later when my sister stopped driving the make-believe spaceship, turned to the child next to her and with a decisive expression very matter-of-factly stated, 'I don't know, she's my sister, so it doesn't matter', before jumping off the equipment and running to the next imaginary game. In that moment I couldn't have been more proud of her. I don't know if she knew exactly what she was saying or whether it was just something her mum and dad had said to her before, but nevertheless that's a pretty ballsy thing to do for a four-year-old and it made me love her just that little bit more. I told you she was cool didn't I?
I'd like to end slightly differently today if that's okay with you? I’d like to end with a question for you. A paraphrase of the same question the child at the gym asked me before telling me my answer should be 'yes' as being disabled was wrong, dirty and that his mummy said I was going to hell.
If you could change being disabled, would you? Out of all the questions I get asked as a person with a disability I could rival Richard Brandson if I had a penny for every time this came up.
My answer is no. Being disabled has made me who I am. It's brought my amazing friend into my life, taught me values and strength and given me opportunities I would have otherwise never had. I'd love to know your answer... let me know. Drop a comment on my blog; I'd be intrigued.
Until then, one day my sister might read this blog and I'd like to tell her and the world that I love her, even more than this cheeky picture of us; which is a lot!