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Thursday, June 7, 2012

On Being Different

We have been going to gymnastics for a full school year with our home school group.  I remember the first time we were going, Sarah was nervous because she didn't want to answer questions about why her leg is missing, what happened, why her fingers are missing.  She would LOVE to just go and be part of the group!  After the first session, that was how it was all year.
But school has let out, and now the monthly free play is open to all.  We knew there would be a lot more kids there, and on the way, she started to get nervous.   "Oh mom, I'm not sure I want to go!"
"But Sarah, you LOVE gymnastics!" 
"I know, but there will be new kids and they will ask me questions!"
"So, what are you going to tell them?"
"I could tell them a shark bit my leg off!"  Alli was dying laughing.
"Or you could tell them be careful fishing in the lake!"  :)
"Or I could tell them I was just born this way!" 
"Yes, that would be good!"
"But then they will ask why and keep asking and I won't be able to just play!"
"So what will you do after you answer a question and somebody won't leave you alone?"
"Get mad?"
"Will that help?"
"No...."
"I'll tell them I answered, and now I want to play."
"That sounds great to me, although I like the alligator idea!"
:)
And then, she bravely went in and faced about 25 kids. 
And were there stares?   Yes.
Were there questions?    Yes.
Did she tell the alligator story?  No.
She said, "I was born without a leg and fingers."
Did somebody pester her to death?
Yes.
Did she handle it well?
VERY WELL.
"I've answered your question, now I want to play."
And she did.
By the end of the session, she was having a wonderful time.

I never dreamed of the conversations I would have to have with my children.
They are so brave. :)  And I am so glad they have each other!

4 comments:

Annie said...

What a great experience. You made me realize that some of the BEST learning in life, is when you learn to gracefully negotiate difficult or awkward social situations! You are such a terrific mom! For example, I can easily see another household, where there isn't as much conversation and safety, where Sarah might not have shared her anxiety - in fact, where she might have acted out or managed to get in trouble, so she wouldn't have to go to gymnastics....

I want to be you.

Chiara said...

Boy I'm glad she handled it so well; I can imagine how tense and ashamed she could have been. As I child I always tried "not to fit in", me the weirdo, I had a afro looking doll (In the '70 in Italy there were NOT AT ALL people from other countries, especially in a small town like mine) I went to school with the craziest outfits and pretend to speak my own language. But when it comes to the way you look physically... things are soooo different, missing a leg or fingers are a very big deal, not a very easy challenge to feel "regular". i'm so glad she seems to be quite cool about it, she is only a child and her sensitivity is VERY exposed. I'm happy she had fun and was able to deal with all the questions and stares.
Big hug
Chiara

Mike and Christie said...

The funny thing is, these conversations flow like water around here, because of our uniqueness I guess. Annie, I rarely ever expressed myself or fears like this growing up, and I didn't want that for my kids. I want to know how they feel and think and to understand their fears too.

I still like the alligator story. :)

Mike and Christie said...

Chiara, she does handle things so well. She said this little girl kept coming over and asking more questions and when she said, "I answered you questions and I want to play... the little girl said, "But"..... and she just went off and played. LOL

The hard part for her is also that a child like that will continue to stare and whisper and she feels like she is on display.
The GREAT part is, she is probably the best gymnast in there. She has AMAZING balance and ability.

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