The Boy in the Bookstore

Whenever I go out with my daughter Lilia, we tend to attract notice. After all, I am a blonde foreigner, and she is a brown-haired kid in a bright yellow wheelchair with a wire sticking to her head. Curious children often follow us around, staring blantantly. I often feel like we are on display.  Depending on my mood, I either talk to the kids, or ignore them. Today we were followed twice.

The first time, was in a bookstore. As soon as we walked in, a little boy started trailing behind us. I wasn’t in the mood to explain about our appearance; sometimes I just want for us to be left alone.  I ignored the kid, though I was acutely aware of his footsteps. When we were heading toward the door, I finally took a good look at him. He was still following us, and I noticed that he was limping. I thought he was doing it to mock Lilia, which is a weird thing to think, I guess, since Lilia uses a wheelchair. But I felt irritated, until I realized that his gait indicated something else – cerebral palsy, maybe.  It occurred to me that instead of finding us oddities, this boy had seen something familiar in Lilia and her wheels. Maybe he felt more comfortable than curious, as if he’d found a member of his tribe.

As we walked out the door, I smiled at his mom, and thought about  how there must be other kids living in this town, wondering if there are others like them.


2 thoughts on “The Boy in the Bookstore

  1. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with others Suzanne. I think I spent a year with you in Tokushima way back in 1988 to 1989. I admire you for all of your accomplishments. I was known as Toni Hill back then, and I am now Toni Hill-Kennedy. I am so sure that you hear from so many people, and perhaps you have forgotten who I am, but I remember you…working in Naruto…the place with the whirlpools…please keep writing. Respond when you ccan. I have wondered about the statistics around the JET program…whether it has made a difference for JApanese young people…are they speaking more English???

    Thanks again,

  2. i love when things like that happen! i thought one boy in s’s taekwando class was just being intolerant of s, until s piped up one day and said, ‘you have to remember i have asperger’s syndrome!’ then the boy said, ‘you do? so do I!’ immediate friends, until i switched days of the week because other kids were apt to make them both a little bonkers through sheer exuberance. i should show up on tues, and get the mom’s number…thanks for the reminder.

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