As we were driving to preschool the other day, we saw a man tapping his cane across the sidewalk as he walked.  Widget asked,

Mommy, why can’t that man see?

My heart sunk.  I want for my children to appreciate people for what they can do, not see their limitations.  But clearly, just as we’re learning that children see race well before we thought, they also see the tools that people use to navigate their world.  They see my armsleeve and the blind man’s cane, and they have questions.

I paused, sensing a teaching moment, and my mind went blank.  But then I said, and I don’t fully understand where this came from,

Well, honey, no body is perfect. Everyone has some body part that doesn’t work properly, or that they wish worked better than it does.  But the amazing part is that all our bodies work, and they help us to be who we are.

Widget turned and looked out the window, thumb in mouth, as he does when he’s lost in thought.  Bear was quiet, sucking on his own arm, and I became lost in thought as well.  Is this it?  Is this really a universal truth?  And if so, why didn’t anyone tell me this before?

The message of my childhood was that we’re all the same inside, no matter our handicaps or disabilities.  And that’s a good message.  But what if there’s more to it?  What if we finally recognized that every one of us has a body part that doesn’t work right (his ear, her stomach, that lady’s nose whistling in church), and that we are so lucky to have the ones that do?


13 Responses to Acceptance

  1. Lain says:

    Yeah, your kids have got it pretty good in the Mom department.

    • whymommy says:

      Thanks, but that’s so not why I posted it. I was just struck by this fully-formed thought out of nowhere, and thought it should be shared.

      But thanks. I love being their Mom.

  2. kgirl says:

    My step-neice has CP, and while I know that she (and her mom, my s-i-l) struggle, I also know that my girls love their cousin unconditionally, and don’t consider any ‘differences.’ I won’t even have to teach them to look beyond a person’s challenges.

  3. upsidebackwards says:

    That is a brilliant answer to a difficult question. It gives us all something we can relate to and think about. You really are amazing.

  4. Rebecca U says:

    Yep, your response just went into my bag of answers for future questions.

  5. Gerbil says:

    That’s a very good answer.

  6. Stimey says:

    I very much believe that each of our strengths are different. That man may not be able to see, but for him to be able to walk around without sight, his perception must be amazing. My guy Jack may not get how to interact with other kids, but he has this incredible capacity for overwhelming loyalty and love once he gets there. Your arm may not be able to lift your kids so well, but your heart does it in incredible ways.

    I think you’re right that all of us have parts of our bodies that don’t work so well. But each of us also has unique and incredible strength.

  7. Bon says:

    i like your way of answering better than the “we’re all the same inside” that we got as kids. that old stock answer was well-intentioned, but it privileges those who can assume themselves “normal” and doesn’t ask them to imagine themselves inside the body of anybody else. it ignored the fact that we do see differences, and it created a generation of us afraid to acknowledge difference or explore it or converse with people about it.

  8. Sara says:

    Great answer. 🙂 I’d take it one step further, just because I have experience of being “that one that is different”.

    We all have parts inside of us that don’t work, and we all find ways of dealing with those parts. Some of us roll over and refuse to do anything because we can’t have life exactly how we want it. Others find ways to continue. We overcome fears, insecurities, and the limitations that are put upon us. We become stronger than those that are not dealing with limitations. We learn to do things that most people, even those in our position, never learn to do. You know this, you’ve been there yourself and are there now. You’ve been through things most people cannot imagine, and you have come out stronger.

    It’s easy to see the limitations, simply because we can’t put ourselves into that person’s body. I wish it were so easy to see the amazing strengths instead. To look at a person with a cane, a person with a hearing loss, a person with a seeing eye dog, a person reading braille.. And to just realize at a soul-deep level “Wow. That person is strong and adaptive” instead of fixating on the limitations.

    • whymommy says:

      Chills. Thanks, Sara.

      (This is why I blog. Hearing this? Starting my day with this? Wow. I’m clicking over to read more from her site right now.)

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