This is a question I hear more frequently than I care to admit.
As a parent to twins, the comments such as ‘double trouble’ and ‘you’ve got your hands full there’ are as common as seeing a penny on the floor, but one thing I didn’t expect was the intrusive comments about Alfie.
The first disability we found out about was Alfie having a bilateral profound hearing loss.
Basically, they played the loudest noises in the world to Alfie whilst monitoring his brain for mental reactions as well as looking for physical reactions, and there was no response.
Not a single blink of the eye or jump in a brain wave. Nothing.
And people would comment on how well he slept in loud places, so we would explain that he is deaf and that was that.
A few comments of pity for Alfie but mostly hope for the future and the fact he would someday have cochlear implants.
Then came the diagnosis of spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy.
What a mouthful.
This came when Alfie was around 9 months old. He still couldn’t support his head, let alone roll over and try to crawl like Rory.
And as they have gotten older, and their differences have become more prominent, the comments from others have gotten worse.
From ‘why can’t he do that’ to ‘what is wrong with him?’
It appears that when confronted with a child who is different, society believes that there must be something wrong.
It is not enough for a stranger in the street to tell me something is wrong with my child, many like to then inform me that my twins cannot possibly be identical, otherwise both would be disabled.
The first time someone said this to me I was so shocked I couldn’t even speak.
But it has happened again and again, especially as Alfie’s disability becomes more prominent when Rory is walking around, and Alfie needs to be carried or can roll.
I have explained to complete strangers that Alfie’s disability is a result of a complication due to being identical twins.
I have been angry at the person thinking they know more about my children than I do.
I have been offended, and I have been upset. I have taken the time to go into detail and I have also told people to mind their own business.
Yet whatever my reaction, intrusive and offensive questions still come from complete strangers, and whatever I say, they always think they know more or that I am wrong.
I’ve come to learn these questions do not stop.
If anything, they become more intrusive and more offensive.
A sad fact of society and one I hope changes.