We returned to Cowes week activities last night and it gave me more opportunities to observe how strangers respond to Joshua in his wheelchair as there are several different types of people who we encounter:
1. There was the old man, he may have been the worse for wear, who danced in front of Joshua when he saw him bobbing up and down, enjoying the music. He got closer to him and gave him the ‘thumbs up’ symbol. But Joshua ignored him, he turned away with a very snooty expression on his face and refused to engage with this man. He took the hint and walked away and I was greeted with lots of spectators rolling their eyes and smiling in sympathy.
2. Then there are those who observe from afar who do not approach us but are mesmerised by Joshua. They smile at me when I catch their eye and they have a ‘awww what a shame’ look in their eyes. There is nothing to feel sad about, Joshua is happy, out and about and having as much fun as the next child, maybe even more!
3. Then there are those who come and pat my arm and smile, saying how lovely Joshua is and giving me that head on one side look of sympathy, which I do not deserve nor want!
4. In the past Joshua has been given lots of free CDs as people have been so moved by his evident enjoyment of the music, that they have wanted to give him something that will continue to make him happy. In fact this year is unusual as he has not received any gifts. Often buskers donate their CDs to him, being delighted that he has enjoyed their skill – we have an odd collection of organ music, South American panpipes and irish jigs at home!! I never have the heart to tell them that his enjoyment is not personal, he just loves and lives all music!
5. There are the children who cannot help but stare at Joshua while they work out what is going on with this boy in a wheelchair. They show no embarrassment or sympathy at all. My husband detects fear in their eyes – could this be catching? Why is he in a wheelchair when he is not an old person? – but I simply see natural curiosity, which is more honest than some of the adult reactions
After another evening sharing all that Cowes Week has to offer, we return back home: Back under darkness and Keenly enjoying nights-out. We are indeed very lucky.