Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wicked cool advice for parents of children with differences

You know what I mean. Yes, we are all different, thank god, but I mean visible differences. Stand out and get stared at differences.

In case the 30 or so readers a day did not read the extraordinary comments from my friend Sarah, I'm reprinting it here.

Honestly, Sarah, I got chills when I read this. Your mom is brilliant and you are a treasure. Thank you for sharing this information and, in case anyone ever googles "what to do when people stare at your child's difference," here is the best answer I've seen from a woman of strength and wisdom:

I have a cleft palate and while it is noticeable now, it was MUCH more noticeable as a child. Especially right after surgeries (had tons of them.) When kids stared, my mom often kindly asked them if they had a question. If they said yes, she asked them about what – never assuming it was my lip. Most of the questions (whether prompted by my mom or not) went something like, “What happened to her?” or “What’s wrong with her lip?” or “Why does she talk funny?” All of these questions could have frozen both of us – certainly shy little me. My mom would patiently explain that I had been born without a lip and that marvelous doctors had been able to give me one --- and didn’t they do an AMAZING job? She’d make it sound so lucky and exciting. Her approach did several things for me: 1) gave me words to one day answer the questions myself, 2) respected the normal curiosity of other children and broke the ice for us to play, and 3) made it a not shameful experience – no reason not to answer questions because my lip IS different but it’s not THAT big of a deal. Differentness is interesting and, thank God, exists in all of us. Brody’s thumbs are nothing short of wicked cool miracles (hard fought for with your whole self, but miracles, nonetheless.) We didn’t choose to be part of these wicked cool miracles but I sure am glad we get to.


Tiffany said...

Brought a tear to my eye, Sarah! Seriously - you are an amazing person! Your wisdom and strength (yours too Chris)blows me away!

Hef said...

Okay, so my comment on this won't be as profound as Sarah's, but I had to tell you about a little girl I was privileged to care for last Saturday.

She was barely three years old, just like Bro and Aub. And she was paraplegic. I have to admit, when her mom brought her in the room I was a little nervous because my experience with special needs children is fairly limited.

When the little girl (M) came in, most of the other children were already there. And they all stopped and stared. And M’s mom, who was this glowing bundle of beautiful energy, looked at all of them and said, “This is M. She has to crawl because her legs don’t work, but she likes to play the same things as you.” A few kids asked questions, the mom answered them without flinching, and they all played together all day long just the same as any other group of three-year-olds.

No biggie.

So I suppose that just reaffirms what Sarah had to say.

Just felt like sharing with you.

Hugs and love to you and Bro and Sarah’s awesomeness.

Christine said...

Thank you for sharing that. Truly, I think the universe meant for you and Sarah to tell me these things. I'm going to have to work on the not flinching part. But it is so heartening to hear these stories. That there is a way through.

Stacy and Jon said...

Can I assume it is okay to share this with my friend, Jane, whose son has a cleft lip and palate? Zac is my son's orphanage buddy from China. Actually, we have lots of friends with "clefts" at various stages of repair. Great advice!!

Jacque said...

<3 Sarah

SaRaH said...

<3 (((Chris and Brody))) <3
I don't know what to say except I'm blessed beyond measure to know you.