Kids are curious. They ask questions without hesitation-when you want them to or not. They have an innocence about them though, leaving you with a red face and slight nervous giggle. The questions and comments alone will keep you on the edge of your seat at all times-what will they say next? My niece is one of those characters; not yet three, she says things that I’m not always prepared for.
I remember a time when a little girl asked me about my arm, I was about twelve. She had a concerned look on her face like I was hurting; I was missing my arm, I had to be in excruciating pain. Michelle, a long time friend of mine, was cheering on the sideline with me when the girl approached us. Jaw dropped, she asked me “what happened to your arm?” My grandpa always told me to have fun with it; he said I should make up a different reason every time someone asked me. His sense of humor was a little different than mine though; he wanted me to put my hand in my mouth and act like I had swallowed it-yuck. Instead of completely scaring the poor girl, I responded with “Oh my gosh! I must have left it at home, I forgot to put it on this morning when I was getting ready for school!” She looked down at her own hands wondering how this could be. You could see the confusion written on her face. She gave me a weird look and we cracked up about it as she swiftly ran away. Instead of saying I was born without my hand, I was able to have fun with it. I’ve also been attacked by a shark while surfing, fought wolves in the woods and wrestled alligators in my spare time-each story more creative than the last.
At one point, it would embarrass me when kids would speak up in public announcing that I had one arm to their mom-and the rest of the world for that matter. The moms ALWAYS apologized immediately (blushing of course). Instead, I tell the mom not to sweat it and explain to the little human that I was simply born without it. I’ve found a way to explain it to kids so they understand. “God made me special, he made me different. You’re different too did you know that? Do you see how mommy has brown hair but you have blonde hair? You guys are different and you are both special, God made you that way. It’s the same thing with us, you have a big hand and I have a little hand, we are different from each other but we are both special.” I am quite fond of this approach because it is simple and easy to follow-for any age. I can’t pretend that I don’t have bad days though where I just want to simply go to the grocery store without being recognized-in this town, who am I kidding?
I went to the store yesterday to pick up a couple things before our family vacation. I was not in the mood for distractions-or anything off the path of my perfectly thought out list. To my surprise, this quickly changed when I caught a little girl staring at me. She was probably five or so and I knew she had spotted my hand. I knew because she instantly yelled for the entire store to hear-“Mommy, Mommy, look at that girl’s hand! Why is it like that? That’s gross!” Well this is awkward… Her mom snatched her up and told her to be nice while smiling apologetically to me. I wanted to keep walking but I felt compelled to say something to the little girl-perhaps it was to ease the embarrassment of her mom. “It’s ok” I said. “It isn’t gross, it’s just my hand. God made me this way.” Wether she understood or not, she looked satisfied with my answer. I held it out for her to see and she quickly hid behind her mom’s leg like I was going to pass on the disease of missing arm syndrome. Not all kids embrace it with open arms at first but you’d be surprised how I can change an impression with a few minutes of time.
At times I wonder how Lennox will feel about it when she gets old enough to notice it is different than hers. I pray she never feels embarrassed-I’ll have plenty of other reasons to embarrass her, I’m sure. The kids at daycare tug on my arm when I drop her off, they’re so curious. I can handle kids though, I might feel different if I walked into work and someone started touching and pulling on my arm in curiosity, but I digress. I want Lennox to see me as a driven, inspiring woman and I hope she strives to be the same. May she always stand up for what she believes is right and always does right by others. My nephews, Cooper and Kohen notice my hand now at the ages of three and five; their answers are always the sweetest. To them it’s a baby hand and it’s “sooooo cute!” My niece Karsyn says “it’s so tiny, it’s so little.” Oh my heart melts with those kids.
Kids may have no filters and you can bet that they will give you their honest opinion. You just hang in there mamas and future mamas, tell your kids to ask questions; continue to open their minds to new and different things. It’s okay to be different; it’s time to embrace it. If you see me around, stop and say hey!