We were at the ROM, which was full of kids activities for the Family Day long weekend, in a large hall with various tables set up to do various activities. It was full but not packed so we could easily move around. There were a group of kids, two boys and a girl, who were running around together having fun. They were careful how they ran so they weren’t bumping into people. They were kind of fun to watch.
I pushed myself round a small crowd gathered at the fortune telling table, the oldest kind of fortune telling was on show, it is a museum. Then I noticed that the kids had stopped running. A little boy, maybe six, was standing with his parents. They were waiting in line and chatting. his back was pressed up against his mother’s leg. He looked terrified. The run-around kids had stopped in their tracks and were staring at him.
They talked as they stared. They wondered what was wrong with him They thought and said clearly stated that it must be awful to be him.
He had a facial difference.
He knew stares.
He knew ignorant comments.
But he didn’t know what to do right then.
He may have been taught, but it’s hard to practice skills when you are pinned in time and space by piercing stares. I know this.
I pushed myself slowly until I was in front of them, the kids. Let them stare at me, I thought. Let them. The boy, once partially hidden behind me, immediately turned and buried his face in his mother’s skirt.
I asked him if he was having fun.
A stupid question in that moment, I know, but I didn’t know what else to ask. I just wanted his face back out, he has nothing to hide, difference is just difference.
Brave kid peeked out at me and smiled. “Most of the time,” he said.
The kids were gone. I waved goodbye and so did he. His parents never noticed a thing. This is not to suggest that they were bad parents, not at all. It happened in seconds. They were in conversation like other parents there. But they were here. With their kid with facial differences, together as a family.
People with disabilities know.
That this is rebellion.
My take is that since I know what it is to be stared at. Since I know what it can feel like to be alone with your difference in a crowd. I have a responsibility to act. Not make a scene. It’s not my scene to make. But to do what I can to take action, to provide support, no not do nothing.
Then I went to have my fortune told, joining Joe and the kids in the line up and was told that I should avoid lawyers. I kid you not. Everyone else got prosperity and I got a lawsuit.