Society, and the way some people with their attitudes and ignorance behave no longer surprises me. Sometimes however, I find I can be surprised, but in a good way. These good surprises somewhat make up for he times when the ‘Blue Badge Police’, stare so hard that they bore holes in my back. They make up for the time the nosey lady (a member of Blue badge Police) sat in her car, watched me park up, watched me unload Isabella’s 22kg Special Needs buggy and then watched me place Isabella’s Blue Badge on the dashboard, she then got out of her car and had the audacity to ask me if I realised I was parked in a disabled bay. They make up for the times when customers in restaurants, stare opened mouthed, forks hovering below their lips, as we unfold and assemble Isabella’s booster seat, place her in it, pop on her bib and begin spoon feeding her. It makes up for the lady in Boots, who with her haughty disdain stared at Isabella in her sling and asked if she didn’t ‘like’ walking.
I have and will always maintain if you have a question then you should ask. Asking is much better than staring. Staring is rude and makes us feel uncomfortable. By asking me you will learn and hopefully share what you have learned with others. Not everything is as it seems, not all disabilities are visible. If you ask you will understand that my daughter is not lazy, she is unable to walk. You will understand that Blue Badges are issued to ‘everyone’ young or old with a disability, not just to people who are over 65 and have a disability. You will understand that we bring our own booster seat to restaurants, as Isabella is unable to sit unaided and regular restaurant high chairs don’t offer enough support for her. You will understand that Isabella doesn’t have use of her hands and is unable to feed herself.
When people to do take the time to ask, listen and understand, it is a relief. This trip to Bahrain has been full of nice surprises; people listening, understanding and trying to help.
When we met Isabella’s riding instructor Karan he put us completely at ease. I explained about Isabella’s condition and how it affected her and he not only listened, but he remembered. I explained that Isabella is not good in natural sunlight, it doesn’t even have to be bright, but it can make her squint. With that in mind he ensured he walked the horse around the arena avoiding any sunny areas. I told him that Isabella, like all children can have good days and bad and she may not may the last half hour (We pre booked 12 half hour slots). He told us not to worry and that she wouldn’t miss out on any of her time. In fact he said that even if she does ride for her full half hour, it would only be marked down as 15 minutes. He explained that he wasn’t doing anything difficult, it wasn’t like a regular half hour lesson, where he was teaching, he was merely walking the horse around the arena. He understood how important it is for Isabella and the fact that riding this frequently is not available to us currently in the UK. He wanted to help, and said it was the least he could do. He told us that he actually wanted to give Isabella the sessions for free, but sadly wasn’t able to. His kindness and thoughtfulness has touched both myself and my Mum.
His kindness didn’t stop there. After my first session of riding with Isabella, he commented that I was a natural and it was in the blood. Then after my second session he asked me if I wanted to have a go at trotting! He told me that he wanted to give me more experience riding so I would feel even more confident holding Isabella, as I would feel more confident on the horse. I said yes immediately and didn’t have the time to get nervous. I surprised myself when I actually did okay. I am not going to the Olympics any time soon, but it is the first time a sporting activity has come fairly natural to me, as anyone who knows me, knows I cannot throw, bat or catch for toffee!
Sometimes accessing or finding things to do with a special needs child can be tricky. Often at theme parks for rides Isabella has to be able to sit unaided and usually I cannot sit with her, as most rides have a maximum height restriction. Here in Bahrain we are extremely lucky, as not only as I am able to ride with Isabella, they allow us both to ride for free. Soft play is great fun, but it has to be quiet or else Isabella can get trampled on, as children understandably get excited playing and don’t realise or understand that Isabella cannot move out of their way. A lovely new soft play centre opened in one of the new malls here in Bahrain. We went to check it out to see if it was suitable, as I have to go inside to help Isabella move around and play. The ladies at the reception were very helpful and understanding about Isabella’s condition. Without asking they told us that mornings were the best time to come, as there is virtually no one else around. When we asked how much it would cost they said it would be free for the both of us. Again I was pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed the soft play area, as much as Isabella. We both had a fantastic time. It gives me such a warm, fuzzy feeling, when I see Isabella enjoying the same things that other children do.
The good surprises just keep on coming. On our last visit in October we swam upstairs on the roof top pool, but since it is only spring here in Bahrain the water is quite cold and not really suitable for Isabella. So we did some investigating and found that the beautiful 5 star hotel 5 minutes walk from the apartment has an indoor pool. We spoke with the manager and explained that I was here on holiday for some respite with Isabella. He listened patiently, while we explained about Isabella’s condition and that she loves the water and how our pool is now too cold. He said that he would love to help and that we were more than welcome to use the facilities here at the hotel and that we wouldn’t have to pay for Isabella. The pool was wonderfully warm and relaxing, Isabella and I loved it.
Over the last few weeks, I truly have been touched by people’s kindness, respect and thoughtfulness. Little things really do mean a lot.