Many of us have been in the situation where it’s time to leave the park and your child does not want to go. They shout and cry and you drag them off embarrassed and flustered.
Imagine now, the same situation but instead of dragging them along by the hand you are trying to stuff them in a wheelchair. Arms and legs are suddenly surprisingly strong and you’re having a battle to do up the buckle while trying to keep a smile on your face and make going home sound exciting.
People stare as if you are the worst mother on the planet, how on earth could you do such a thing to a child with a disability?!
I felt the same negativity when, a few weeks ago, Bella had a tantrum at her brothers swimming lesson – people felt so uncomfortable I felt like I needed to explain the reason for the outburst.
But why should I?
If other children have tantrums in public people either look away or give you a sympathetic ‘been there!’ look. The reason for the tantrum, was that she wanted to continue playing the iPad but it was time to get Ollie dressed, she’d had a five-minute warning and a two-minute warning so it was no surprise.
I wonder if these other parents think because she is in a wheelchair I should make allowances for her, that I should let her get her own way, because being in a wheelchair is miserable? Well most of the time Bella is extremely happy.
She does, however, like getting her own way and she does not like to be told no.
I think it’s important, as with any child that she realises she can’t have everything and things can’t always go her way. I have to admit, it wasn’t always like that and that’s why she tests the boundaries now.
When she was smaller I quite enjoyed the cheekiness, at the time I thought it meant that she would be able to stand up for herself and I was also so pleased at how ‘normal’ it seemed. As she got a bit older I could see how I was treating the children differently.
Oliver , 9 , might answer back and he would be told it was wrong, Bella would answer back and it would be laughed off.
The one thing I want for Bella is to be accepted like everyone else and I realised I was treating her differently.
I can’t keep her wrapped in cotton wool, even though I would very much like to.
So, I don’t feel embarrassed when people stare or ‘tut’ or look horrified when It’s time to leave the park and Bella has a tantrum or if Bella moans in a restaurant because she can’t play on my phone because I know that I am treating her as I would any other child and therefore she will hopefully grow to be a confident, polite woman.
If a venue improved its changing facilities, would you be more likely to visit it with your disabled child?