So, recently, Avery has been using her walker whenever we go out shopping. I've been trying to make sure that I give her the opportunity to be independent wherever we are, and she's been doing a great job! Of course, it's meant that everything takes a lot longer to do, but that's just fine with me because it means that my little girl is starting to realise that she can walk by herself wherever we are. A couple of weeks ago I had a few things I needed to get, so the plan was to go to target, then walmart, and then joanns. At Target I gave Avery the option of using either her walker or her crutches, and she chose her walker. (Which is good actually, because she can walk a lot faster and longer with her walker - crutches are a lot wobblier and more tiring) She walker the whole time we were in Target (including to and from the van!), so when we got to Walmart, I thought she must be tired, so I gave her the choice of using her walker or sitting in the cart, and to my surprise and delight she chose the walker again!! And she did great!!! So we didn't make it to Joanns, because the first 2 stores took about 2 hours, but I was so proud of her!
Of course, we get a lot more comments and looks now that Avery's walking whenever we go to a store. Most of it is lovely! It's interesting to see how different people react to her. I love when random people seem to be amazed by her. In the parking lot at walmart, for example, one woman stopped in her tracks to exclaim "You are so amazing!! Look at you!!" which I thought was sweet. Sometimes people will stop and tell us how they or someone they know used to have braces or a walker just like hers. Some people will make a comment about how pretty her hair is, or what pretty eyes she has, or something like that, which, again, I love, because of course she's beautiful! Sometimes though people don't really know what to say or do. We were at Kroger the other day, and there was a little boy there with his mother, and the first time we crossed paths the little boy asked his mother if Avery had hurt herself and that was why she needed a walker. I don't have a problem with questions like these, especially from children, but his mother ignored him. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and thought that maybe she hadn't heard him, but we crossed paths two or three more times, and each time the little boy asked her why Avery needed a walker, and each time he was completely ignored.
How would you react to something like that? On one hand, I can understand her hesitancy to say anything in case she offended us. I still remember when I was about 15 I was on a bus and there was a little boy on the bus with his mother, and to this day I still don't know what his medical condition was, but he obviously had something. I didn't stare at him, but I did steal a few glances wondering what had caused the noticable deformity, and I remember feeling so sad because I just worried so much that he'd had to deal with the cruelty of children. Now I look back and feel sad for his mother, because she probably had to deal with those curious glances everyday, having everybody notice what was "wrong" with her son without seeing what was wonderful about him. But I think it's a tough thing to deal with to, because what should people say? I know that for me, I would have liked it if that mother at the store would have talked to me when her son asked her about Avery, or done anything other than ignore the question. It is not offensive to me if someone asks me about her. I will happily take any opportunity to brag about her, so please, just ask me! Maybe she was embarassed by her son's question, but ignoring my child and pretending she's not there is hurtful, and certainly not the way to teach your child to be embracing and inclusive. I only hope that she maybe spoke to him about Avery later on when they got home and talked about why some people need help walking.
I don't know. I keep on trying to imagine what I would have done had the situation been reversed. It's hard to know because my experience with Avery makes it easier to react to other exceptional children, but I suppose it would be difficult to know if you'd never had any personal experience with one of these amazing children. What comments and reactions have been particularly irksome/hurtful to you?