To the lady in Waitrose this morning…
Please don’t judge me for looking at you. Mine were eyes of sympathy, amidst those of curiosity and others of condemnation.
You were leaving the cashier, as I was coming in. I couldn’t help but look, because your child’s screams filled the entire vacuous space of the shop.
To me, his screams of wanting cake were not the ordinary cries of a child having a tantrum, they were somehow more than that.
I could only see you through the tills and couldn’t easily reach you, or I’d have reached out and asked if I could help. By the time I had thought to do this, the screams, though they didn’t lessen for you, were disappearing out of the shop.
You looked so calm. Deep down you must have been in agony. It was as if time stood still for those moments as he screamed for that cake. But you had the look of someone who had dealt with this before. Someone who is able to block out the prying eyes and focus on what really matters. Him.
I could see, even from across the shop, that you understood why he was upset and because of this, it didn’t actually matter that people were staring in disbelief. Some embarrassed, looking nervously at other shoppers, trying to make sense of what they could hear. Some probably like me, wanting to ask if they could help, but not quite knowing how to.
You must have made it out of the shop and away from that difficult moment, because by the time I left there was only the usual noises of a supermarket car park filling the air.
I admire you. I admire your ability to cope so well under scrutiny. I don’t know whether you always cope so well. But even if this was your finest parenting achievement so far, you nailed it. You didn’t need our help today, but you have my thoughts.
Disability is not always visible. Your response is. Make a difference. Accept difference.
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