Yes, I saw the look of horror on your face as we rolled our adaptive stroller into the stroller and wheelchair car on the train, as your son, a mere toddler, belted out with excitement, ‘look at the baby’, as he pointed at my daughter.

It’s okay. 

I understand. 

As a small child, your son associates walking with the independence of being a self-proclaimed, ‘big kid’, and strollers for babies. 

The fact that my four-year-old is still in a stroller means that she is a baby—since babies ride in strollers—and big kids walk.

Now what you do next, as a parent, will either make or break this scenario as a teachable moment. 

If you brush this off in embarrassment, I may need to take matters into my own hands. 

You see, as a parent of a wheelchair-bound child, it is important to me that the world is a tolerant place.

I meet adults on a daily basis that don’t know how to deal with my daughter, often acting in a condescending manner or ignoring us, in the hopes that we go away. 

Teaching children early in life about the range of differences in our population will hopefully make the world a more accepting place for my daughter and others with special needs in the future.

You look at me and smile weakly. 

I smile back warmly. 

It’s okay, I will you with my eyes. 

Go ahead. 

Talk this through with him, as he looks longingly at my daughter, wanting to go, ‘meet the baby’. 

‘Let’s go introduce ourselves to the little girl,’ says the mom.

The little boy introduces himself. 

I answer for Mia, and then ask him how old he is.

Proudly he answers that he is three. 

Wow, I say to him, that’s old, but Mia is older than you—she’s already four! 

He looks at me in disbelief, calculating with his fingers. 

I know that I’ve just messed up his world view. 

Then I go on to tell him that Mia has a special stroller for big kids. 

Her legs don’t work like his, so she needs the help of a wheelchair or, as we call like to call it, a big kid stroller.

His mom gazes at me. 

‘Thank you,’ she mouths to me. 

The little boy is quiet for a moment, processing this conversation.

After a minute of deep thought he says, ‘So when she grows up, she will walk?’.

I answer back. 

I hope so. 

I really hope so. 

We work on standing and walking each and every day - she just needs a bit more time and some extra help.  


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