Keep in mind, too, that other people might not understand that the child you’re caring for has a disability. Occasionally, if Drew is faced with frustration or disappointment, he will scream and cry at the top of his lungs or cling to me in distress, and he won’t care who’s watching. When I started caring for him over four years ago, I’d feel embarrassed at moments like these, moments when people would turn and stare. I would feel anger rising within me. I wished strangers would stop judging us, stop looking at us, and mind their own business. Eventually, I got used to these invasive eyes and no longer am bothered when people stare. I have come to know that while I can see Drew for the full individual that he is — precious, feisty, and loving — not everyone has the eyes to see him that way.
I should note that, when we’re in public, we aren’t always faced with judgement when Drew is having a bad day. There have been countless times that I have been surprised with the love and acceptance that some extend to Drew.
Once, we were biking and upon passing his favorite ice cream shop, Drew turned into the parking lot. I tried to explain to him several times that I didn’t have my wallet and promised that we could return later in the car. We stood outside the store, Drew screaming and crying, as I tried to calm him down. I felt the prying eyes of people passing by. The weight of strangers’ judgment was heavy, and I just wanted the moment to end. After a few minutes, however, the owner of the store came outside and gently offered Drew whatever he wanted for free. Drew calmed down, the owner welcomed him, gave him the largest scoop, and sent us on our way. Moments of unity like this mean a lot.