Unfortunately snapping photos of children one doesn't know is frowned upon both by society and the mothers of said children.* I wish I could, though because the kids Maggie and I see when we are out and about are hilarious. The dynavox is the draw, of course. Most have seen kids in chairs before, but they haven't seen anyone talking like Maggie does.
The best are those between the ages of about 4 and maybe 9 years old. They have to be old enough to be cognizant of Maggie's differences, but not old enough to be annoying for staring. It varies.If they are too young Maggie is just ANOTHER new thing they are seeing and if they are old enough to know better than to stare at someone in public, it is annoying and I look at them disapprovingly. Of course they never see my carefully knitted brow because they are staring at Maggie. The middle ones - perfect.
Today we were in Borders book, which is a favorite destination. We can cruise all over the store and browse the books, cd's movies and other things. I will show Maggie our friend Grace Young's cookbooks, or the Junie B Jones collection (which she owns in its entirety.) Even though we have those book in our house, she find it hilarious to see them in the store. Of course the entire time we have a running commentary going. I am talking to her and she is answering on her dynavox.
There are children all over the place looking at the toys or calendars or the piles and piles of books. Maggie's Chair fits fine in there, but sometime getting around the displays is a bit tricky. I have to slow way down to navigate her chair. This is when I notice the kids most. They are holding an open book, but staring at Maggie. One kid saw me look at him and buried his head back in the book, only to lower it below his eyes. Another was looking through the shelves in a display case and a third glancing around a pole. It was all I could do not to laugh. It is natural for them to be curious. If I meet their eye (which is rare) I say hello and tell them Maggie's name. Most are too shy to do anything.
Sometimes their mom/dad/whoever pulls them away to teach them not to stare. I can see the kid listening to the parent while keeping a watchful eye on Maggie. Other times there are older siblings trying to corral the younger ones. When i say something the older ones start asking questions. They are fascinated, know they shouldn't stare and use their younger sibling(s) to get themselves in a position to ask questions. I love those clever kids with the guts to speak up.
Ir's funny, but the same behavior from grownups or even older kids is not cute at all. It feels creepy. I don't know where that line is but I know when it's been crossed. Until it's crossed, though, I think its delightful.
Just so you know, there's no harm in just saying hello. Even if you are over 9. Maggie would love the break from my incessant chattering I'm sure
* I did not take this picture, just found it on the internet. Some other stranger likely did it.