You Should Be Talking

It’s been almost three years since I experienced someone taking the time out of their day to come over to me in the street, stop me and comment on Sullivan sitting on my lap whilst I was in the wheelchair, here is the the blog post I wrote about that back then if you’d like to read it or refresh your memory: He Should Be Walking.

I’m referencing that in today’s post because a similar experience happened to us this afternoon and if I’m honest, I’m still really mad about it.

We decided to spend an afternoon in a local gorgeous area called Crystal Palace Park.

I fell in love with this area, it’s like a secret faerie den!

If you know us and our family situation, you know that often this kind of thing is difficult for us. IF our lift is working in our high rise block of flats so we can actually leave, getting about in a wheelchair with chronic pain can be extremely challenging and draining. Getting an autistic child who has severe anxiety about leaving the house and being around flying things and bugs outside is really difficult. Travelling to and from somewhere that isn’t a 2 minute stroll can be pain inducing, exhausting and in Sullivan’s case really scary. So when we decided to go and spend a few hours in the park today to catch Pokรฉmon, encourage Sullivan’s passion for nature photography and have an over-priced but delicious Whippy ice cream I never dreamed having to factor in a stranger going out of their way to criticize us.

I saw her coming as I finished catching a Darumaka, we struggled to get me and my wheelchair up another steeper, shingle-covered incline and as she approached to pass us I shared a happy smile. She stopped. I’m not sure what I was thinking at this point but I’m kind of used to people stopping and moving really far out of the way for my wheelchair (like I’m suddenly going to run them over or something!) or just taking the time to stare at me as I pass but people are curious naturally about things different from the ‘norm’. As a mobility aid user, you get used to the gazes and awkward reactions.

She took a couple of steps closer to us and it was then that I knew she was going to interact with us. I was hoping for a friendly smile or perhaps a comment on how my wheelchair looks great/fast/one lady owner – all the usual stuff I get… but not this time. This stranger chose to come over to myself, my husband and my 9 year old son and say “You should be talking, you should all be talking as a family!” I realised after a few seconds she was referring to the fact we were playing Pokรฉmon Go.

There are a million things I could think of now to say back to this woman but at the time I was genuinely shocked that this stranger had chosen to come over and share this infinite piece of elderly ‘wisdom’ with us. Our immediate reaction after the confusion/shock was to defend ourselves and I really wish it hadn’t been, looking back. We shouldn’t have to say we were playing a community game that we’ve played together as a family and with friends for 5+ years or that we do actually talk as a family. I feel I should have questioned her. What gives her the right to smugly judge a family out trying to have quality time together? What gives her the right to demand how that should be done? Why did she think her opinion was so important that she had to confront a young disabled family with it? What did she get from that? A sense of pride? Happiness? Or is she really just angry that she’s a jaded old relic, clawing at other’s happiness in a world that’s leaving her behind.

I’m sorry to my readers for that last sentence as I try to see the best in people and I try to live my life with chill and positivity but would never, ever dream of approaching a stranger to tell them how to enjoy themselves, communicate, bond or how I think they should live their life. Especially not in front of a child.

Have you ever been on the receiving end of a stranger’s un-wanted judgement in public? If so, let me know below.

Tree climbing champion!

8 thoughts on “You Should Be Talking

  1. Aargh! People who feel they know better ๐Ÿคข. Particularly people who feel compelled to tell you how to be a better parent whilst knowing absolutely nothing about you. ๐Ÿคข๐Ÿคฎ. Sorry this happened to you. I always feel like I’ve been slapped when things like that happen to me.

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    1. It drives me bonkers! Yes, that’s exactly how I felt, then I stewed on it for ages thinking of the things I should have said! I’m sorry you’ve experienced similar too ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  2. I feel so angry about this I want to find her and punch her – the thing is she is a lonely old trout that no one speaks to because she can’t control herself, she was probably wetting herself as she spoke to you!

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  3. I once got told whilst my autistic daughter was mid meltdown ‘if that was my child I’d give them a good hiding, spoilt brat has you right when she wants you’ … might i add, at the time I was close to tears already seeing her struggle amd the meltdown had been building for days… I didn’t have it in me to mutter any words of scorn, to tell them to do one, or even ‘the look’ to tell them to mind their own business… in hind sight I should have told them, I should have said something… but I didn’t I cried.
    They took time out of their day to make my day even more awful than it was, and taught my daughter that her feelings were not valid, and that people can be very unkind.
    Unlike them, she is wonderfully kind and a has a beautiful spirit.
    Thank you for sharing your lives with us.
    You’re all super awesome and we love you x

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