We went to a Christmas party with Colorado Unlimbited.
Being the only child with a limb difference in our immediate set of friends and family, we wanted to go to this Christmas party so that Brody could see other children with limb differences. We wanted to go so we could see them too.
It was held at a swank place. Most of the other kids were older.
Brody's reaction? He was having a great time, and so were we, right up until the moment he asked the girl whose one arm was 50% shorter than the other: "Your arm breaked?"
As he continued to ask the other children for the next 3 hours.
"He's young." Jeremy stammered apologetically to the 10 year old girl.
God bless her, she responded to Brody with a genuine smile, "No, it's not broken. This is the way I was born."
Poised, obliging and kind. She had said that countless times in her life so far, but her smile was no less sincere.
"I have five fingers," he responded, holding up his four-fingered hand. Then he ran to play.
Most of the kids there had unilateral upper extremity limb differences. Growth stopped sometimes above the elbow, sometimes below the elbow. Sometimes a finger or two, sometimes not.
Brody stared at them just like countless other children stared at him.
And continued to ask, "Your arm broked?" "Your arm hadda owie?" as he walked around and played, ran and laughed with the children.
Then Santa came.
The real one.
The children sat around him, enthralled. I admit, I was enthralled too.
If ever I saw the real Santa, this man was him.
He asked each child to sit on his lap, even the teenagers, and asked them what they could do better, what they wanted for Christmas, and then gave them a gift. When Brody's name was called, he bravely went up, sat on Santa's lap, spoke with him, agreed to brush his teeth more, and requested "Toys."
One by one, the children went to Santa, and the room was hushed while we listened to each conversation. Of course, the kids could not open their gifts until everyone had one.
Which left a lot of down time after Brody had his turn on Santa's lap.
Which let Brody's mind wander back to arms, and so he asked me, while we observed another boy in Santa's lap, in full voice in the hushed room, "His arm broken?" No one reacted, except for my stomach clenching.
"SHHH!" Brody's mother yellpered into his ear (a yelling whisper, and I just invented the word). "No," she continued, "He was born that way. It's not an owie."
Satisfied, he quieted down.
We had a wonderful time. We found the kind of connection with other parents where you do not need to speak of the struggle, but just by their presence and smile and warm greeting, you receive comfort and hope and security.
We are still mortified, though.
And I think we are officially on both sides of the equation.
Leave it to Brody to open our eyes wider.