Understanding – inspired by two toddlers.

Sorry I’ve been pretty quiet  for a while. I actually do have a lot to tell you and update you on but I think I will save that for another day. I’ve been lying in bed this afternoon thinking and I had some thoughts I’d like to share.

I have a very lovely bestest friend, Liz, who has two wee kids  – Jonny is 3 and Sophie (myGoddaughter 🙂 ) is 14 months. I absolutely love spending time with them all and although even just half an hour in their company can be exhausting, it can really help to lift my mood.

They popped over earlier today to collect our hoover (we don’t share hoovers, theirs is broken!). In the short time they were here Jonny picked up my elbow crutch and started walking about with it. He loves using it and we certainly don’t discourage him …. unless of course there is something or someone to be damaged!

Today Liz said to him “Jonny, be careful with that. Auntie Rhoda needs that stick so just take care. What would she do if she didn’t have it?”

His answer was “use her wheelchair of course”.

I burst out laughing. Not because it was particularly funny but because here is a three year old boy who just accepts that Auntie Rhoda needs a stick and a wheelchair. He doesn’t find it odd, it doesn’t bother him at all.

A few minutes later I see Sophie trying to use my crutch. Now she is 14 months but she is trying to use it in the same way as I do. It was really cute and it got me to thinking.

In the past we have ventured to the shops and Jonny has pushed my wheelchair – a pretty hysterical sight it has to be said. He loves doing it…. although he also likes trying to crash it into shop windows but that’s a story for another day.

These two lovely children have no qualms whatsoever about me being a bit different. Sophie happily sits on my knee while her Mum pushes me along hospital corridors. They both love to use my stick … and well tomorrow I get my stairlift I can just imagine their reaction to that!

There is a point here somewhere, it’s just taking me a while to get to it.

Jonny can be in the car with his Mum and will say “oh look that person has a stick like Auntie Rhoda” or “that man has a wheelchair too”. He is aware of people that might appear a bit different, but he is aware of them in a good way. He isn’t scared of them or wary, that’s just who they are to him.

I can often be sitting in my wheelchair somewhere and have teenagers staring at me. I just smile at them and we carry on. If wee kids talk to me, I talk back to them. Most of all though it’s just a stare that I get.

Now don’t get me wrong I have absolutely no issue with that whatsoever. However watching Jonny and Sophie today I realised how my illness will have an impact on them as they grow up. Not an adverse impact, it will make them more open-minded, less scared of things that are different.

It made me think that maybe nurseries or primary schools should spend more time discussing disabilities or people that are, for want of a better phrase, “a bit different”. What do you think?

My Mum is a teacher and every year at school they have an equal opportunities day. Last year she led sessions about MS and how it can affect someone. (If you want to read more about this click here). It got a great reaction from the kids and they now understand why she has to walk with a wheelie or use her scooter.

So what’s my point? Well perhaps just that a bit of knowledge can go a long way towards understanding. In these days where disabilities and benefit cheats are, very wrongly, associated, maybe it’s time we educate the younger generation. Maybe it’s time for them to understand people who are a wee bit different and become less wary of them.

Does that make any sense? I hope so.

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