When my son Simeon was seven-months-old, I took him on a stroll through our local toy store. The place was almost empty but as we rounded the corner we bumped into woman and her husband. They leaned over and looked at my son as we passed. He giggled. They waved hello and told me how cute he was. But near the end of the aisle we passed the woman’s son– an eight-year-old boy. He glanced down at Simeon. His jaw dropped. He looked confused at first, then nervous. He went to his mother standing a few feet away– pointed to my son and said with confusion “What IS that?”
Because my son has spina bifida and he breathes with the help of a trach which, if you’re not used to seeing it, can be a bit surprising.
I saw the mother’s eyes brim with embarrassment. And her face turned stop-sign red as she glared at her son and spat out “Don’t. Say. Anything.“
And I felt terrible– like my little boy was shameful somehow. Because he has a disability– and disabilities should not be spoken of.
Kind of like Voldemort.