The following story was written in 15 minutes in response to a prompt in my module syllabus, I was in allowed to stop writing until the time was up or edit; this is called free writing and I found was very cathartic even though I know some bits may be repetitive.
I remember the first time somebody called me a retard. I was six, my sister and we’re at happy Valley caravan park in Swansea. We always had a ritual; my grandparents would pick us up from school on the Friday in the van and we’d munch a picnic asking every five minutes are we there yet’ and dubbing my grandad Mr Parsely, don’t ask me why but looking back I wished I was lady Penelope from the thunderbirds. Anyway, once we’d pitched up there and my grandad pitched up our tent that I and my sister slept in. I remember crawling on the ground helping where I slapped my hand down on a worm! My sister was doubled over laughing and afterwards, she promised me that she would write the anecdote down and send it to Ms magazine for their embarrassment section. Afterwards, I remember my grandad treating us to ice cream; he would always have a feast ice cream along with my Nan and me and my sister would have white chocolate magnums watching my family series 2 on the telly. Afterwards, my grandparents let me and my sister explore the campsite knowing that we couldn’t get lost because my sister had had her first mobile and they knew we were desperate to go into the kids club arcade and we were given money for sweets and that was before dinner! Member feeling so grown-up that we were allowed to explore the campsite on our own and we did make some friends and as we were coming out of the caravan site Cornershop, a boy whizzed past on his bicycle and called me a retard for being in a wheelchair. I think this was the first time I realised I was different to everybody else, my sister and our friends did chase after him shouting at him to get him to apologise but he shrugged it off as if he didn’t care. I remember my sister pushing me back to our pitch and murmuring not to listen to him and told me that even though I was different I was probably a better person than he was. My sister hugged me at eight years old but I remember crying into her jumper wishing that I could be like everybody else. I remember giving the sweets to my friend suddenly feeling sick and not wanting to explore the arcade anymore. When I went down to see my grandparents I told them what had happened and my grandparents took me in the arms and said: “well he can’t be very clever if that’s the only word he knows he’s not a nice person so don’t worry about it.” I could see that my grandad was angry but he was trying to keep it all in for me and the next thing I knew he gave me a beaker of Ness quick that was reserved for bedtimes and one of his special biscuits. He told me that no matter what people said about me it was how I felt about myself that was most important and ultimately, I should feel sorry for that boy because he was very narrowminded and couldn’t see past his nose. I laughed taking this quite literally until my grandad explain to me that it was an expression! My family never made me feel ashamed for being different and that’s why I write my experiences down to help others. That night though, got the best of that little boy because words spread around the camp about what happened and the next day none of his friends would talk to him and his parents made him come to apologise to me. Even at six years old looking back I knew that I thought that boy and important lesson. That just because people are different doesn’t mean they are any less of a person, but they don’t have thoughts feelings or dreams. That night I and my family celebrated with a bag of chips from the best chippy on the sight and a bag of jelly babies where me and I my sister raced to eat all the black and green ones which were my grandad’s favourites!