“Look, Mommy, she doesn’t have legs!”
If we are being honest here and with ourselves, I bet you hear this very often, or something similar anyway. You hear the Mom and/or Dad hush the curious child and a look of embarrassment and/or glance of sympathy for what their child just spoke in your direction. I get it, it’s the first instinct to hush the child who might have said something embarrassing to you, but I, personally, don’t think you should.
I always like for people to know that it is, in fact, okay that they or their children are curious about me and my limb loss. Trust me, I’ve gotten lots of comments and questions over the years, some negative, but mostly just some wanting to know more about it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one that welcomes gawking and will definitely say something to that said gawker. But, all in all, I like questions and I especially welcome those that are from children because after all, they are just children. And without someone teaching them, they would never learn.
In light of this subject, I want to speak with some of you guys about how to approach the topic of limb loss while at home with your children, or really anywhere that you feel a one-on-one conversation is in order.
So, first things first, don’t avoid the conversation. If your child approaches you and asks you why – tell them. Don’t shush them automatically and change the subject quickly, muttering under your breath to be quiet or “don’t be rude.” Acknowledging that there are people in the world that are different is a really good thing. Avoiding this only instills the wrong notion that people who are different are “weird” and should, themselves, be avoided. Most of the time all it takes is saying, “Some people are born without a leg, and some people are born without an arm, just as some people, like you, were born with two.” You can speak about how people are sometimes in accidents that cause them to lose a limb too, and that’s okay because it’s true.
It’s always important to remember that people with disabilities are human too. There are billions of people in this world and it would be a pretty boring place, in my opinion, if everyone looked the same. I am a person, regardless if I have two legs or no legs. I am still a human being – just like your daughter, just like your grandmother, just like your best friend from elementary school whom you haven’t seen in years.
Kids like to know things and will ask questions whether you like it or not. Let them know that just because someone is different, doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing.
In the words of my beautiful Mama to a very curious and loud child,
“People who are different deserve love, just as you deserve love too, Myah.”