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.