Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Lifeless? I don't think so.

I was carrying Princess through a particularly busy area at a special event at Little Man's school today - there was quite a crush of kids and parents, so I had Princess against my chest and was supporting her with my arms, with her facing forward.

Because of the amount of activity around us, Princess had no doubt gone to her 'factory default setting' as I call it, of having a slightly stunned, almost disconnected expression on her face. (Some background - if there's an expectation placed on her to show interest in something, and she's too busy listening and keenly observing it all, she will get this disinterested look on her face, and the effect can be easy to misinterpret. But don't be fooled - she's got a mind like a steel trap and a sharp tongue when she wants to use it!)

A dad we know only as a slight aquaintance walked towards us, looked at Princess, commented "Whoa. Lifeless!", and kept on walking. A little stunned, I asked Princess "Was he talking to us?" - apparently he must have been. And I wonder, what on earth made that man think it was okay to make such a comment at, and within earshot of, my daughter?

I try not to get indignant at stupid comments or ignorant people - why waste my time being worried about their problem? - but can't help wondering would this guy have made that comment if Princess had had a less stunned look on her face, if she'd looked like she was as alert and engaged as every other child in the room, which she in fact was?

What is it about kids with 'special needs' that seems to give anyone the right to comment or judge when they wouldn't do it to anyone else?

This dad missed an opportunity to learn something today. If he'd stopped to say hello, and if he took the time to get to know her, he would learn that our Princess is many many things, but certainly never lifeless.

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