I’ve probably written about this before, but being out with a child in a wheelchair can attract a lot of attention from strangers. Sometimes it’s fine – I realise it’s hard not to take a second look when you see a child in a chair. I realise you can’t stop your child from shouting “there’s a baby in a wheelchair!” Some of it is less welcome – once someone bought my meal for no reason. A well-meaning gesture, but awkward and unnecessary. Also, there are people who want to stop and tell you about some other child with a disability they know, or how a dozen years ago they cared for a child with a disability which, as it turns out is completely dissimilar from my child’s. I used to babysit a few kids with disabilities when I was in university too, but I don’t feel obliged to talk about it all the time. I’m sort of an introvert, and having a child with a disability does not make me more inclined to engage with strangers. The over the top offers of assistance are an irritant too. Holding the door is fine, lovely even. Making space is great. Giving up a wheelchair accessible table because you realise we can’t sit at the bar stools is nice too. But when a stranger just wanders up and says “Do you need help?” when we’re just living our life, it’s invasive. Or stepping in to wipe my child’s face (yes this happens!) or assuring me “Oh look! She likes that!” as if I’m not capable of knowing, or she’s not capable of showing me that, or as if it’s a surprise that a child with a highly visible disability could be capable of emoting. I’ve always been fairly thick-skinned when it comes to parenting, and unsolicited advice, but this stuff gets under my skin.