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?