07 February 2013

Where I Rant and Rave

We were in line at Fred Meyer when the lady in front of us turned around and said, "She is just so cute!  What a darling little girl!  Oh my, she is just the cutest thing!"

I take praise about my children's cuteness with a grain or two of salt because some people seem to lose it around small children.  I think my kids are the cutest ever, but I figure no one's really going to tell us our kids are ugly even if they think it's true. 

A minute later she turned around again.  "What are her disabilities?"

I'm not what you would call quick with the comebacks.  When someone catches me off guard by asking an intensely personal question I pretty much start turning red and stare stupidly before I can catch my bearings.  Finally I responded, "Well, she has dwarfism, but we don't really consider that a disability."

"Oh."  She said. "Well, she is such a cute girl."

At home I relayed this story to David.  He glanced at Daph, who happened to be performing some acrobatic stunts off the side of Christian's high chair at that moment and said, "I don't think anyone can take a look at that girl and think she's disabled."

And that pretty much ended our conversation.  

This encounter got me thinking about what I want people saying to us or asking us in public.  It's a question I hate thinking about because (and you may think I'm crazy here) when I look at Daphne I don't see anything wrong with her.  I think part of the reason I get so flummoxed when people ask about her is because it takes me a second to understand what they're asking.  I forget that others might notice anything different about her.

My heart aches when I realize they do. 

A year or so ago, a lady stopped me in Costco and asked a question about Daphne.  She was raising her grandchild who had some pretty severe health issues, and she said to me, "We're a part of a pretty close-knit group, aren't we?"  I think she sensed my confusion, because she clarified by saying, "the group of us raising handicapped children.  We stick together."

Then I was ultra confused.  I feel as though my peers and I are just raising children.  That's all.  We talk about discipline issues and eating issues and sleep issues.  We talk about our plans for schooling and whether or not our kids should be in sports.  I like to talk about the great deals on name brand clothing I find on half price day at the Salvation Army (best day of the week).  But am I supposed to be in a different group?  A group with the 'handicapped' kids?   Is that where people picture us and expect us to be?

Maybe we're doing it wrong, but we raise Daphne just like we would raise any other kid.  Maybe she is 'handicapped,' I don't know, but we certainly don't think of her that way.  She's just our kid, who, quite frankly, can do anything any other 4 year old can do.

I don't mind when someone asks us about her shoes.  Asking why she wears her braces is a lot better question than "what's wrong with her feet?"  I can easily answer why she wears her shoes; I can't tell you what's 'wrong' with her feet.  Nothing is wrong with my kid, people.  Nothing.

So when you come in contact with someone you decide is uniquely different (because you're so perfectly normal?), don't ask any questions unless you have a genuine interest in his or her life.  Don't be selfishly curious.  Treat them like a person, because that's all they are.  First and foremost, and to the people who love them most, they are just a person.  That's how you should think of them as well.

Ask only the questions you would want someone asking your own child (or asking you).  Remember the child you're asking about can hear you.  And for goodness sakes, realize that sometimes, some things are just none of your business.

As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.  His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

 “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."    ~John 9:1-3

Daphne is a rock star, folks.  She's got great things ahead of her.  Maybe just ask me about that. 


Erika said...

This is such an awesome post. Thanks for sharing so openly. I love your perspective. And the little series of photos are adorable!

Michelle said...

I love this. Not the comments people made, but your reaction. I see Daphne as such a sweet girl and I hope that's what other people think too. I was recently visiting a friend who had a new daughter (from our last visit) who had some learning delays. She spent a lot of time explaining them to me and I was thinking how strange that was in a way... I wanted to treat her like any other playmate for my children, and they were certainly prepared to do so as well.

It kind of reminds me of a quote from Downton Abbey, which I can use because I know you watch that show, "Don't make an enemy by accident." Obviously this isn't really about making enemies as much as jumping to premature conclusions, being too eager to label people as "different" for one reason or another. I appreciate you letting everyone see Daphne for all her strength and beauty instead of her "differences" (which everyone has in some way anyway). Not to mention that Daphne is so able and agile I don't know why anyone would pause to wonder about it.

Also, when I opened this post I thought the title was some kind of joke because the pictures at the beginning are so cute I couldn't imagine what they had to do with a rant and rave session.

Lets get together soon and talk about our cute kids.

Amalia said...

Well said ! And I love this part of the verse

“but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him." ~John 9:1-3

Shelley said...

So many things I love about this post...where to start? First of all, gold star to you for getting in the picture with your kids. Secondly, I love this post because it ventures a little farther from the path your posts usually take, and that takes COURAGE. I commend you for that. And last, but certainly not least, for the absolute, positive adoration for your daughter that shines through as I read this. I hope this post goes viral and that lady stumbles upon it someday. Ha. Point is, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks. The person who has arguably the most influence in the world on shaping that little girl's perception of herself and her abilities is you, and so I'd say she's in good hands.


Shelley said...

FOURTH! (How could i forget) What a perfect story verse. I just almost get goosebumps reading that in the light of what all you shared.....

Erin said...

Good charge to us/reminder to get to know the person. Knowing Daphne I wouldn't think of her as handicapped/disabled, she's full-force with everyone. I hope we never treat her like she should think of herself as different, you guys are doing a great job with your kids!

On a side note, yes cute kids as well, Kyle and I were watching old video clips from when we brought Addie Mae home from the hospital and some other randoms. Oh my, you'll have to watch the ones with Adds and Daph. They were so little! They are pretty funny to watch.