It’s one of the moments all parents dread. The public tantrum. The kicking and screaming kind and the one where you wish the ground would open up and swallow you. And yep, it happened to me last week.
Ever since they were babies, I carried both Jack and Niall on my lap as we got out and about in my electric wheelchair. When they were tiny newborns, I used a baby-carrier which was much like a ruck sack and the boys would be strapped to me, with their heads poking out! This was the best option at this point, although I couldn’t put the carrier on independently. If my hubby wasn’t with me, I’d limit our outings to visiting family and friends who could help me with strapping the boys into the carrier.
As the boys outgrew this, I’d just sit them on my lap with my arm tightly around them. They both loved whizzing around with me. However, with Niall approaching his 4th birthday, he is understandably wanting more freedom and independence. So I’ve recently started letting him walk within the school grounds when we go to pick up his big brother, Jack. He seemed happy with this until last week.
He suddenly started pulling away from me and running in the opposite direction. As crowds of children and their parents came up behind us, I had to scoop him up back on my lap quickly. We were approaching the school gates and I was terrified he’d change direction and run towards the road. Being in the wheelchair, I can only go so fast and have to be mindful of people around me.
Well, he cried and wiggled so much I thought he’d come off my lap again. I struggled to keep an eye on Jack as I tried to keep Niall on my lap. It was a nightmare and a few people asked if they could help.
Eventually, I had to let him down again for a few metres and then he calmed down enough to be reasoned with! It was a scary experience and not one I want to repeat.
But Niall is starting school in September and I have to teach him how to walk safely beside me. For a brief time, I used a harness so he could walk with me but not stray too far. At that point, he’d almost always want to be carried anyway but I might go back to using that until he gets a bit more sensible!
There are extra challenges attached to being a disabled parent and there is very little specialist information and support out there for those in my position. I hope by sharing my stories, other disabled parents might not feel alone.