I never know exactly what to say when a child sees with my child in a wheelchair and ask me questions like “Why is she like that?”
I have a nice answer for “Why is she in a wheelchair?” (Usually something along the lines of “She needs it to move,” or “She can’t walk, yet.”) But I still get thrown by questions that imply deficiency, like “What’s wrong with her?” I usually say “Nothing.” Children are undeterred and will ask again but I like to think to think it helps them reframe their question.
Every now and then, I’m just not in the mood to answer, particularly if it’s a child I don’t know and I’m in the middle of something else, and I’ll pretend not to hear. Other times I welcome the attention and try to engage them: “Are you interested in her chair? Don’t you like the wheels?”
I have no difficulty explaining she has CP, or that her muscles don’t work like theirs, but some day she may reach an age where she doesn’t feel the need to make her medical condition public, no matter how visible it is.
Soon I suppose I’ll be able to deflect the questions to her. I wonder what answer she’ll prefer. I suppose that like me, it might depend on the day.