We were having a giggle in Tesco. Scarlett sitting in the trolley mischievously hiding my shopping list behind her back and laughing like it was the funniest thing ever. Licking the vegetables & grinning at people as we wheeled past.
Half way round the isles I became aware of people looking at us. Not with unkindness but not smiling either. They were watching us, Scarlett.
And I realised with a jolt it was the noises Scarlett was making. She shouts a lot. Not words, she hasn’t learned to talk yet, but loud sudden sounds. One of her noises sounds a bit like Chewbacca from Star Wars. Sometimes the noises are like she’s singing out of tune or telling me off.
Ive never been particularly aware of it before, she’s always been a noisy kid. As baby she’d shout, then she babbled, as she’s got older the noises she makes have changed and progressed. That’s just what Scarlett does. That’s what she sounds like. I love the sound of her voice.
But today, with a sudden jolt I realised that most 3 year olds don’t make these noises. That her shouts were causing people to look. And what they were seeing was a child with a disability…. because people with learning disabilities often do make these unusual noises. And people stare at them. They were staring at us.
As I write this I’m not even sure I’ll publish it… I’m not sure how I feel so I’m not sure how to end the post. I’m not upset. I’m not offended that people were looking and I certainly won’t be trying to make Scarlett stop doing it. I like her noises and so does she.
But it did make me feel singled out. Different. Were people looking at us with pity? Did they want her to be quiet? Did they expect me to quieten her? Were they just curious as to why she shouts? Did they feel unable to approach us? Could they see my little girl or did they just see Down syndrome?