I try not to watch the “hard-hitting” current affairs programs we have on offer here in Perth. I’m really not interested in the latest anti-aging miracle cream and I don’t particularly care what the captain of the local football team had for breakfast. Yet sometime last week I found myself watching one of these journalistic gems and the story really affected me.
It was a story about a very bright and outgoing footy loving (NRL, but we won’t hold that against him) 4-year-old boy who just happens to have dwarfism. Normally any story featuring a person with a “disability” (particularly a child) would make me run a mile. Actually that’s not true. I can’t run, I would be more likely to hobble but that’s beside the point.
Anyway, as I sat down (eye rolling at the ready) to watch it expecting to see a puff piece about the brave little hero who is overcoming his oh so tragic condition by having the courage to do normal things (a specialty of this type of program). I actually saw a story that was far more stomach churning.
This kid (like me) is for want of a better term, a funny looking kid (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Until now he has been blissfully unaware of this but because he is so bright he has started to notice the extra attention he is getting and it is beginning to upset him. I remember very clearly the point that this happened to me and my heart broke for him. It is very confusing for a child to be the subject of this kind of intrusive and unwanted attention when you’ve never thought of yourself as different before.
What is even worse is that it isn’t only children who point and stare but adults as well. Some even try and covertly take photos of him presumably to show their friends in a feeble attempt to feel better about themselves (thank goodness there were no smart phones in the 80’s).
I will admit that this made me a bit teary and further strengthened my resolve to “normalise” disability in whatever way I can. No child should have to put up with that, especially from people old enough to know better!
Perhaps the thing that burns my crumpet the most about this story is the trolls. These are the “heroes” (again adults) who chose to spread their particular brand of nastiness on a video this little boy’s proud Mum put up of him on Facebook.
Aside from the obvious, it angers me because as a child I was a HUGE fan and collector of Trolls, You know the little creatures with the multi-coloured hair. I had hundreds of them. I even had one dressed as Elvis. I loved these things and would always get a troll doll show bag when we went to the Perth Royal Show. Unfortunately now days the word troll has taken on such a horrible meaning that my love affair has started to wane.
I am going to the show again this weekend after a 20 year hiatus. I had said to Mum that I was going to get a troll doll showbag (if they still sell them) for old time’s sake but suddenly that idea has lost its appeal.
Bertie Beetle, here I come!