Tuesday, July 30, 2013


A woman was walking her child to school.

A normal everyday occurrence. The two were clearly close. He held tightly to her hand. She chatted with him, making him laugh. He might have been five or six years old. She stopped a the red light, waiting for it to change, when it did they crossed.

They were greeted with stares.

And looks of concern.

And rampant disapproval.


She was using a white cane, swinging it in a gentle arc in front of her.

People actually gaped.

Two took photographs on their cell phones.

The boy was wearing a bright orange vest, carrying a knapsack on his back. They crossed the street, turned the corner and were on their way.

She clearly knew what she was doing.

He clearly felt safe, his hand in hers.

But you could see, as thought bubbles appeared over each persons head, the various catastrophes that could have, might have happened. Heads shook. Some stared to see if the boy, too, was blind.

They saw everything BUT a mother walking her kid to school in the morning.

They couldn't just see that.

Of course they couldn't.

Because they had to layer over what was there with what wasn't there - incompetence, danger and, oh my God, chastity.

Those people don't have sex do they?

Those people can't care for children can they?

Those people shouldn't be allowed out alone, should they?

The boy was too young to notice the effect they had on the world around them. He will one day. I wonder if he'll tell her? I wonder if she'll tell him, in return, that of course, she knew.


Webster said...

I think that their stares and photo-taking could just as easily be interpreted as a form of awe. Clearly, they were impressed.

Anonymous said...

My first thought was people thought she was using the boy as her seeing eye dog. After all, he was wearing a vest like the vests the working dogs have.

I really don't see what sex has to do with it?? I don't think that was the issue.

I imagine if the boy wasn't wearing a vest - people wouldn't have noticed and taken photos.

Although - I think wearing a bright vest is a wonderful safety idea!!

Tam said...

A little respect and understanding is all that is needed in situations like that.

Defying Gravity said...

I would be inclined to go with Dave's interpretation. I used to see people taking photos of my friend and her guide dog. The nudges, laughter, and whispers weren't expressing awe.

Anonymous said...

I think you are likely, sadly bang on in your interpretation however my only issue is "every" person was thinking that? Really? It is not possible that there might be one person out there who may have been thinking, wow, that's wonderful or didn't even notice them?

Tamara said...

I'm guessing that most - especially if they were taking pictures - weren't expressing awe, unfortunately. I'm wondering if the local child protection services were contacted.

Ignorance is only blissful for those living in their bubbles that protect them from truth.

I do have to add that I have watched in awe as someone walked down the street with a white cane. I find it absolutely fascinating. I make myself turn away, but I would love to spend a day with someone who is blind, talk to them and see how they navigate.

That may be because my middle son has congenital glaucoma, which was corrected with surgery when he was an infant. But, he still has the possibility of becoming blind someday. So, I suppose seeing someone navigate the world without vision gives me a certain hope that he would be able to do the same should he lose his sight.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I am blind. I am a Mom. I used to walk my Kiddo to school. He's 16 now. yes, sadly, your take isn't all that far off. Yes, there are decent people in the world. People who don't notice, or people who smile and take it in stride. Mostly though, it's just as it is here.
I've had ladies on the bus offer my son their gloves, because of course I couldn't provide him any. They were in my pocket so he wouldn't lose them. I've had people pray for me at random public locations. One man asked to take my families picture so he could show his family, because a blind woman eating fast food with her family is a pretty amazing thing. My son's Kindergarten teacher suggested that he should read his behavior related notes from the teacher to me. Really? He couldn't even read then, never mind that no child in their right mind is going to read their Mom a note from the teacher detailing his mistakes at school that day. I could go on and on and on. But thank you for speaking the truth.
And yes, there will come a day when he tells her about the looks, stares and unacceptable behavior and yes, she will have known all along. But she is a strong woman and the little boy will grow to be a strong man.

Kristine said...

I absolutely believe Dave's reading of the crowd, at least for the vast majority of the people. And I absolutely believe sex had something to do with it. If you refer to somebody's child, sibling, nephew, grandchild, etc with any sort of disability, people respond with the "aww, how sweet, poor dear" face. But if you refer to someone's parent as having a disability, there's often a very different response. Shock, disgust, pity for the (obviously neglected) child... So many people have never before considered the possibility that a person with a disability would have their own relationships, significant others, children... I told somebody once about my friend whose mother has autism. His jaw dropped, and he looked me right in the eye and sputtered, "But I thought handicapped people were sterile!" That was when my own jaw dropped....

It's interesting, isn't it? People are so inspired when we go to the grocery store with our disability, and feel the need to tell us so. We're so courageous for living our life like anybody else, and letting nothing get in our way... until we cross the line. We aren't supposed to act THAT much "like everybody else." At some point, we're supposed to stop pretending, and remember our place in the world.

Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

I once lived with a friend and her family for a few months. I was the only kid who ever came home for dinner on time because A's mum was THE most amazing cook ever.

And she taught one of her daughter's to play the piano, both of them to ski and one to drive a stick shift.

A is the best driver of everyone I know because not only does she use her eyes, she listens to the engine, just like her mama taught her, even though her mama is blind.

This woman is teaching her son to "see" the world in a different way...and it will be the difference, for him, because of her.

I hope.

Emma said...

I can relate to this post all to easily. I am a mother, now a single mother with a disability. Whilst more people are supportive now days, I have been told in the past that I shouldn't have had a child, which both angers and saddens me.