I’ve always known it would happen some time. Someone other than a friend would notice that his baby face looked odd on a child that old. That he was ‘too big’ to be in a buggy. That he wasn’t behaving like a ‘normal’ child. And the comments would start.
There have already been some well-meaning remarks on the school run directed at Pudding. ‘You’ll be out of that pushchair soon, eh?!’ Erm…no…not unless I fancy him running into the road to play with the cars. But until now, we’ve mainly been cushioned from it.
Last month, we had our appointment with the wheelchair service and got a new buggy designed for older children. It’s brilliant – so much easier to push him in, and looks much more comfortable for him now he’s not squished into the too-small straps. But I think it probably does make it more obvious to a casual observer that Pudding isn’t typical.
Having read a number of blog posts on the ignorant or unkind things that people can say, I was sort of prepared for what we could hear. Our experience so far though has been mostly positive.
Last month we visited a local stately home – we love going there at Christmas as it’s always so beautifully decorated. The huge tree in the main hall has 1500 baubles and there are numerous other trees throughout the house. As you can probably imagine, not the sort of place to take a very strong preschooler who enjoys running and has no appreciation of how easily pretty things can break! So this time I asked if we would be allowed to take the buggy around, expecting disapproval. I took a big breath and made myself say those words, ‘additional needs’. The lady couldn’t have been lovelier and explained that we could use the stair lift, and that she would let them know. So we could relax and enjoy everything, pointing them out to Pudding from a safe distance, and allowing Twiglet the time to do the little trail.
The only sour note was a room guide halfway round who peered at us suspiciously and demanded, ‘Is there a reason why you have him in a pushchair?’ I smiled sweetly back at him, ‘Yes, that’s why they’ve let us through this far.’
In the last hall, we noticed a dog lying by the fire, being fussed over by lots of children. The estate worker noticed me talking to Pudding about it, and made the dog sit up and come to say hello. It was so fuzzy and friendly, snuffling around our hands, and Pudding had the biggest smile on his face. So one outing, two good positives, one slight negative. I can live with that ratio!