I don’t think this post is going to be what you think it will be. I have preached, talked about, lectured on, and discussed the way the world treats my family because we look, well, different. Shock of all shocks, that is NOT what I’m about to write about. Y’all have heard it. Y’all know that our sweet girl, Poppy, has one eye, and our son, Mighty, has Dwarfism which has made him shorter than his typically developing friends.
Mighty’s difference garners the most attention. People often think he is younger than he is. When they realize what his diagnosis is, people will occasionally be insensitive about it (I know you all know the word midget isn’t okay, just wanted to say it again). In this house, we talk, and talk, and talk about sensitivity. We talk about how to reply when people aren’t so sensitive about your visible difference, be it physical, racial, emotional or otherwise. We talk, and talk, and talk about treating others with sensitivity. So, here’s what I’m about to open up about.
Mighty doesn’t get it.
Oh, the irony. The boy with the most visible difference in this family is genuinely insensitive to other people and their differences. Age is a factor here, I know that. He is four-years-old (almost five) and is curious. Part of the problem is also that he is still learning english and his questions tend to come out in a demanding tone. But, he’s also just plain rude. We’re working on this. He has asked people who are overweight, ‘Hey! Why you so fat?’ He has asked people in wheelchairs, ‘Hey! Why you not walking?’ Oh my gosh. Rude.
But, having parented children with visible differences, I won’t shush him when he asks these questions. I want the person that he has just pointed at to HEAR ME acknowledge him. People are never invisible. They are people. He needs to learn to treat everyone with respect. If he doesn’t learn that, if I just shush him, he’s going to think there is something wrong with being physically different than the rest of the world that surrounds you.
So, to the person who is overweight, I made him look at the person, explained that he had probably just really hurt their feelings (to which they agreed that he had…oh my gosh…SO awkward), and then we both acknowledged that God makes everyone in different shapes and sizes, just like God made Mighty smaller than he made me. To the person in the wheelchair, we also apologized, and then I explained that some people can’t just ‘get up and walk’, that sometimes, there is something that doesn’t allow them to, the same way Mighty’s body can’t do certain things because it doesn’t grow the same way mine does. To this, Mighty replied ‘I can’t jump on trampolines. It hurt my neck.’ Bingo. Your spine is compressed because of your Dwarfism diagnosis. Trampolines can be dangerous. Thank you for making that connection.
But, each time he does it, I want the person to know…we see you, because we all deserve to be seen. No one deserves to have someone slink away from them, as if their appearance is shameful. We speak factually, and we apologize for hurt feelings, because we’re all human, and everyone deserves to be treated as such.
Until he has learned this, really absorbed it, he’ll likely continue to ask rude questions. If you’re short, tall, fat, skinny, pale, dark, whatever, I’m sorry. I’ll keep working with him, because as awkward as it is, that is my job as his mom.