‘I love you, Sebastian. Do you love me?’ Tallula leans over me to see her big brother, anchored down into the accessible spot on the GO bus back to the train station. Sebastian smiles. Tallula sees him and repeats his ‘yes’ out loud in case I missed it.
I scroll through photos tonight to look back at our short adventure to Hamilton for part of the long weekend. I see Sebastian’s mouth open as he tries to say something or vocalize his yes. Everyone takes for granted those muscles that are moving together to allow you to speak. Everyone is afraid of what it means to not be able to speak.
At the library today the kids stared and their mothers hushed them and asked them to move away. We waited in line to get some ribbon ‘hair’ for Sebastian’s puppet and two girls walked right in front of us and though they stared they didn’t see Sebastian. They saw a boy in a wheelchair and because perhaps they’ve never seen one before they thought he wasn’t a person worth waiting in line behind. So I reminded them that he was. ‘You see this little boy, he’s waiting in line too. Please stand behind him where the end of the line is.’ The woman waiting to help us told me not to worry, she would take care of us first. But who will tell these kids that my son is a person too? He is a kid. He likes to make puppets and have puppet shows even if I have to be his working hands. Their mothers won’t tell them as they call their children to the door to leave instead of saying hello. Their teachers won’t tell them as they call them back from staring instead of coming over to introduce themselves.
I am so tired of all of you who think it’s ok to ‘shhh’ your children or taken them away. I am so tired of you who think my son is not worthy of a play date with your child because he needs help to do things; even when your child asked for one. I am so tired of you who keep kids like my son out of your schools so that society will never learn to include everyone. I am so tired of a community that is so friendly and welcoming when it’s just my verbal and outgoing daughter with me but when my son who communicates differently, seated in his wheelchair, is there suddenly the community is gone.
After two weeks of doing crafts and events at the library with Tallula and feeling like it would be ok to bring Seb I was reminded of just how much people suck today.
You. Who let your kids stare. You. Who take them away instead of saying hello. You don’t let your children stare rudely at others without disabilities. You teach them to smile and say hi. So why is it different with my son who is friendly and eager to meet others and engage with them?
When I see my son I see a bright boy who loves life and embraces the opportunity to make friends. I see a boy who loves jokes and has a pretty wicked sense of humour. I see a boy who deserves to be treated as the child he is. I see a boy who is adorable and approachable and I don’t understand why more people can’t see the same thing.