Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Jen Campbell is one of my

my favourite humans. She wrote the "Weird things customers say in bookshops" - and if you have not read it then you should.
But it is the other "weird things" people say that was getting to Jen yesterday. She put some of them up on Twitter.
"Did your parents consider abortion?"
Who for?
"Would you consider yourself normal?"
Now what sort of question is that? 
"I was going to ask for this book to be gift wrapped but I'm guessing that's beyond your physical capabilities."
Do you worry that it'll be difficult for someone to fall in love with you?"
"Do you think you did something bad in a previous life?"
Previous life?
Those are my answers - not Jen's. She has dealt with questions about her EEC syndrome in her own way. She is more than capable of handling them but, like me, she gets tired of idiots. 
I have had the question about whether I consider myself normal.
Yes thank you I am normal and no of course I'm not. Nobody is normal. We're all different. Difference makes the world interesting. It is essential to the functioning of the world.
People with disabilities are expected to be something other humans are not expected to be. We are expected to be always polite, always good tempered, always friendly, kind, and grateful. We are expected to "set a good example" and accept help whether we need it or not but never to ask for help either.
There was an article in the Guardian children's books section recently. It was by a teenage book blogger who just happens to be in a wheelchair. She bemoaned the fact that there are almost no books which include characters who have a disability. By this I understood her to mean books which were not "issues" books but books about other things in which one or more of the characters happens to have a disability - just as they might in real life.
I agree with her. It doesn't happen often. Far too often the book is an "issue" book or the main character has a disability and there is a miraculous cure or the disability is treated in an otherwise completely unrealistic fashion. 
"It's what people expect," I was told by someone who should have known better than to say it to me. I am not interested in what people "expect". Sometimes they need  the unexpected. 
Good books do give you the unexpected. Good books give you something new to think about or a new way of thinking about something - or even both. Good books won't tell you that people with disabilities are always polite, always grateful, always a genius, always something we are not.
We just happen to be human. The important thing is to try and be a good human. 

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