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In reading other’s blogs and in my own experience, one thing that tends to annoy us the most when it comes to being a mother with a child with disabilities, is the need for others to stare at us.

I can honestly say, it has many times kept me at home because I hate the feeling Troy and I are at center stage with no script, just an audience who feels compelled to stare. It’s not a peripheral glance, or a casual glance, or even a gracious ‘opps I got caught looking, so I’ll just casually continue to glance around inconspicuously’, it is a full blown stare. I know for Troy’s older brother this has been a major annoyance of his growing up.

I am fortunate with Troy, outside the odd grunts and moans of noise and some arm flapping and maybe a bit of jumping, he really doesn’t behave peculiarly out in the public. Yet, he is 18, he is a few inches taller than me and ever since he was probably 10ish, the need for others to stare us down, truly makes my skin crawl. I think maybe it’s because he doesn’t “look” disabled, they feel the need to stare.  But seriously, who raised these folks.  It has been all races, all ages, and both sexes.

I have seen a man with a burnt face and looked, but the difference between me and others, is I actually took the time to smile at him and say hello. Or the young child in the wheelchair, I will go up to that child and bend down and say hello to that child, whether they can respond or not. Each and every time this has happened, I am the one to receive the most amazing gift because I see them smile, in their lips, in their cheeks or in their eyes, they smile and ohhh, how my world just feels a little better because they did.

Yesterday, Troy and I were at his annual eye check-up. I could tell he wasn’t much into co-operating today, he was showing off a bit of his own independence. First are the three tests, which I have no idea what they are for, but nope, Troy was not putting his chin on any chin-rest to get things started. The traffic at the Dakota Village Shopping Plaza was far more interesting and he wasn’t too pleased that I had pulled him away.

So off we go to sit outside Dr. Murray’s office at Village Optical. One would understand that as much as you and I have no real patience for waiting, we have been trained to do so. Troy has the same amount of patience, maybe even more than you or I, but there comes that moment and with him, you know the moment has now arrived.  He decided he wasn’t going to sit still, so up he got and started spinning and looking at things. Everything, in every spot of the store.

And then the most wondrous thing happened. A woman a few years older than me spoke to Troy. She just started talking to him and she had the most beautiful smile. She asked what he liked to do and I said he likes going to Special Olympics. So she asked him about Special Olympics and I responded. Then we talked about how much Troy likes watching the Winnipeg Jets, though he much prefers when they win (don’t all of us Winnipeggers feel the same).  She talked about how her and her husband would like to volunteer in something like Special Olympics when they retire. She raised her hand to ‘high five’ Troy and she continued talking to us.

That woman made my day. She made it a little brighter and by doing so, she made Troy’s day a little brighter too because it reflects off me. She saw the person, not the disability and she didn’t let it hinder how she behaved. I came home and even spoke about how nice it was that she just spoke to the two of us. No, what’s wrong with him, or I have a friend of a friend, who had a son like yours, or I couldn’t do what you do, or he’s a handful. She was just plain nice and gracious and she made a difference in my world.

So to the woman at Village Optical, who had an appointment with Dr. Murray at 10:30am, along with your husband? THANK YOU. Thank you for treating us like the people we are and not the circus oddities many others have made us feel like. You are a wondrous woman.

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