Thursday, July 7, 2011

through the eyes of a child - volume two

Last summer, I posted this.  I still find myself thinking back to that sweet story and praying that Ethan will be protected from the harshness that can come along with being "different".  To be honest, I forget that his arm isn't, what you would call, normal.  In the same way that I think a scar-less chest looks a little strange, I've come to see his special arm as a part of who he is.

It doesn't keep him from doing anything and, for the most part, I don't notice other people noticing it as much.  Or, maybe I'm just less sensitive to it? The moms at the pool used to be the worst ... peering over their large, designer sunglasses while their "perfect" children frolicked around the splash pad.  Last summer, I found myself wanting to respond with the most snarky comment I could muster.  This summer, it's a non-issue.

I say all that to say that I am so not hyper-focused on his arm these days.  To the point where, if a sweet little girl comes up to ask me about it, I have to stop for a second and figure out how to answer.  Do I take the anatomy route and explain, in child friendly terms, that he was born that way? Do I compare Ethan to the beloved Nemo and go down the "everybody's different" road? I'm still tweaking my answer, but I was given the opportunity to practice it this past weekend.


We were at a cookout with some friends on Saturday night and we knew about half of the people there.  At some point during the evening, one little girl (who I didn't know) asked a friend of mine about Ethan's arm.  I had no idea the conversation had even taken place, until I heard her explaining it to her little sister later on.  The younger sister's curiosity got the best of her and she, along with the big sister, came up to me while I was holding Ethan on my hip.

Ethan was crying at that moment and they were doing everything in their power to console him.  Hand-feed him bites of a brownie? You know it.  Kiss his leg and tell him, in the most precious baby voice ever, not to cry? Definitely.  The little sister touched his left hand, stroked it ever-so-softly and asked, "Is his arm OK?"  The tender way she said it melted my heart.  While Ethan was in the throes of a two-year old meltdown, she had nothing but complete concern for his potentially hurt arm.  I explained that his arm was fine, and found myself driving down Anatomy Lane.  Before it was over, I had them feeling arm bones, wiggling their thumbs, and bending their fingers.  They were SO into it and accepted my basic explanation that he was just born that way, but that he is OK.

Then, as if their acceptance wasn't enough, the older sister looks at me with awe in her eyes and says, "Wow! I wish I had a hand like that."


Later in the evening, I watched as the younger sister took Ethan's hand in her own and stood with him in the yard as the fireworks shot into the sky.  At that moment, I couldn't help but believe my earlier words...

Yep.  He's OK.


Jen said...

Well, that is just the sweetest thing! It brought tears to my eyes! I can relate (in some way) with the being different and "visible" thing- with Andrew's hearing aids. His chest scar obviously isn't as noticeable when he's wearing clothes, so our main question is always "what are those things in his ears?" Some kids are sweet about it, others, not so much.

It used to break my heart (still does when some kids yank them out and Andrew comes running to me crying), but I have begun to accept it as a part of him also. It is just "normal" to us, so I don't even think about it when we are out anymore. I loved your "Nemo" analogy! How perfect.

Anyway, thanks for sharing that precious story. I love the innocence of a child! Wouldn't it be nice if adults could act the same way???

Kim Smith said...

Aww... what a sweet story, Joye! That is too precious. I'm proud of how much you are growing as a mama from year to year. Ethan is sure lucky to have you and Jeramie as his parents!

Anonymous said...

From a grandmother's point of view... I experience some of the same.

Knowing Ethan and loving him as much as I do... the answers are: that is the way God made him.... and he had surgery on his arm...

The little children I have encountered seem to be more concerned with.... I hope it doesn't hurt..

I assure them that it does not.

With you and Jeramie being the awesome parents that you are... Ethan will thrive to become more than we or anyone could ever imagine.

I love you guys and will always... always support all 3 of you, the tri-Mulli.

Love always,
Grandma A.

Jenn said...

The "I wish I had a hand like that" just made me cry some for real mama tears. Oh my goodness. What sweet girls. And you know that the next time they encounter someone, old or young, with a special hand or leg or whatever, they will think of Ethan.

mossfamily said...

tears just totally started flowing! I just love how some people (ahem, children!) can be so accepting and loving while others (ahem, snarky pool moms!) can't. Love how sweet those girls were and I LOVE how you just gave it to them straight & they responded in such a wonderful way!

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