It seems our most awkward, most awful, and often most hilarious conversations with total strangers about our children's differences seem to most often occur in the aisle of a store.
This week we had a doozy of a conversation.
I'm speaking in a few days and it fits perfectly with my topic. So I'm just going to wait a few days to post it... but it was hilarious (in retrospect.)
(By hilarious, I mean it was one of those that I could have burst into tears right there it was so awful but instead chose to laugh out loud about because that just seems better. And happier.)
Today was not so much hilarious. I struggle in church a lot lately. I'm going with Ellie now to the nursery as I feel like she needs extra assistance in order to keep up with her peer group and also to keep her safe (risk of falls is greater for Ellie due to her reflex issues...) and it doesn't seem fair to expect the already overworked nursery volunteers to give such one on one attention to my daughter.
Today was tough. She was bonked several times by kids (they are toddlers - it happens a lot!) But because she is weaker she tended to take the bonk more seriously and didn't just bounce back from it...and when they did the typical toddler behavior of grabbing a toy she was playing with, she isn't fast enough to get it back and she quickly becomes frustrated and I think being around other toddlers just highlighted for me the various areas she is on her own timeline for developmentally. And sometimes that is a tough reminder.
After lunch, we ran through the grocery store and Will caught me totally off guard. Repeatedly. On aisle 11, aisle 9, aisle 7, aisle 4, and in the produce section.
(you'd think after the first two or three times I wouldn't have been so surprised by the conversation. But you'd think wrong. Clearly i have a one track mind in the grocery store.)
A little friend at church today said some things to him. She wasn't being mean at all. I think she was having pity on him for what she perceives to be a weakness or something lesser and she thought she could make it all better by letting him know he would be "normal" in Heaven when he dies.
Talking about when you child dies with your child who is four is not easy.
Especially when you are on the canned goods aisle.
And try explaining spiritual bodies and physical bodies to a four year old who has some pretty serious questions. Not easy.
And try not falling apart the whole time. Not easy.
And try choosing which kind of fruit you want while answering questions about death and heaven as it relates to your child. Not easy.
Mostly I tried to validate his feelings. I tried to understand how he felt when the other child said these things to him. I tried not to minimize or dismiss while also not making too big a deal out of it.
I tried to hold it together when he expressed yet again his desire to do more tasks with one hand - the surgery should have been last month to grant this wish but thanks to the new doctor, is no longer a reality - at least not for 3-4 more years.
And I tried to remind him of how much I love his hands and feet. That this is our "normal." That he is different - not wrong. That he is perfectly made for me. That I adore him - just as he is.
How I long for him to feel the same way.
Later, on a walk, a child yelled across the street at us, "Does that kid have no feet?"
I seethed as I walked.
He is not that kid. His name is Will. He is fun and full of energy (full!) and can do some mean kung fu kicks. He loves to travel and run and can play pretend for hours.
And yeah. My son, Will, has feet. They just don't look like yours, kid.
While cuddling yesterday afternoon, Will told me that the one thing he wished was that when kids see him that they would count his fingers correctly and not argue with him when he explains that he has three. (This is extremely frustrating to him because usually kids ask him about his two fingers and he has three.)
That is my four year old's biggest wish.
That and also a robot that could help him do certain tasks. I've reassured him this is certainly possible in his lifetime!
But me? Sometimes, I just wish for one week that we could go out in public without someone saying something about my kiddo's differences. Or even just a day would be nice. But mostly, I wish he would develop the complete confidence in his body and know that he is so fully capable.