“CAREFUL, don’t fall, there,” would have been a common refrain from my friends as teenagers when I was in a heap on the floor after falling in school. The deadpan remark would always send me into fits of laughter, leading to me taking even longer to manage to get up again.
I always felt relaxed knowing that my disability wasn’t a big deal to my gang. It wasn’t an inconvenience to them, or just some sort of cute sidekick. I was right bang smack in the midfle of all the fun and it was exactly where I wanted to be.
Only a few days ago, I was reminiscing about those days with the same friends who always treated the impact of my disability with irreverent humour. I don’t think we ever had a discussion about me wanting things that way. It just happened naturally.
We laughed, we joked, we got into tight situations and had to walk all around the world to find the accessible way to many places. Friends often had to accompany me to the bathroom or when we were on excursions I often needed help. Someone had to carry my bag, which sped me up greatly, and most of my friends took extra class notes for me or supplied me with a copy of theirs when I needed them.
Most of the support I got went unsaid, they picked up the bags, found me when they guessed I needed help, and we often had to defend ourselves to teachers as to why there was always a gaggle of more than one, most often three around me. We found an answer for all queries and it added to our fun!
I was the kind of teenager who got in trouble in school for laughing uncontrollably more than any other offence and when I’m back with the same people, the same thing happens.
If and when I fell, nobody jumped to pick me up, they knew instinctively that, unless I was really seriously hurt, I would want to get up myself so I could manage the tension in my body and regain my composure in the right way. Even when I was once catapulted from my wheelchair on an air bridge en route to a plane or tumbled backwards down a hill in epic fashion, I still dusted myself off and we still laugh about those times together.
In today’s world of being so politically correct, if we were walking the school halls now, my friends may be nervous about their good natured slagging. That makes me worried that we have gone too far the other way.
For me, humour has always been an equalising vehicle, it disarms awkward and tense situations when we can laugh about a spill, a fall or some other mishap which ends in me being entangled and stuck. I guess the point is that the same people who will laugh along with me, will be the very people who back me out of a corner when I need them to. I never take myself too seriously because the silly things happen. I am proud of who I am, disability and all. Things will always be eventful when I am around
I am fiercely loyal to people who accept me for who I am and become wary of people too nervous around me. I’m a person just like you, so if you say or do something in my company that may not be supportive or helpful, I might tell you but will move immediately on and you can be sure we’ll laugh about it together further down the line.