On Being Different

So Finn is different, I realize this. Sometimes I just forget.

This week Joey and I were each individually reminded that our kid is not like other kids.

Joey and Finn go to the library on Wednesday mornings while I work a half day. Finn wheels around in the open spaces between bookshelves, approaching strangers and searching for Thomas the Train Engine books. This past Wednesday, Joey was reading to Finn and they both looked up to see a little boy, maybe six, standing in front of Finn’s wheelchair, mouth agape. Joey and Finn both said, “hi.” The little boy said nothing; he just stared. After a minute or so of awkward gawking, the father came over to retrieve his son. The boy asked his dad, “Why is he in that thing?” Joey didn’t get a chance to answer before the father quickly shooed his son away to the computers.photo

I held the daycare door open for Finn to wheel through on Thursday afternoon, boogers plastered to his tiny nostrils and hair disheveled from a day hard at play. We were approaching the sidewalk as I heard a child at the playground fence yell, “Hey! Look at him! Hey! Look! He has a rollercoaster!” I smiled. Kind of a cute description of Finn’s wheelchair. But he didn’t stop yelling. “Hey Dylan! Come here! Look! Look at him! What’s he doing? Hey!” The boy wasn’t being mean. In fact, I even heard him mutter,”Awesome!” I just got an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I felt like Finn was a spectacle. An endangered caged animal or something–something to gawk at. I lifted him from his chair once we finally made it to the car and whispered, “I love you so much, buddy. You are so special,” into his ear. He smiled, completely unaware of the situation. But someday he’ll get it and I’m going to be the one there to wipe the tears and remind him of his worth.

I know these are just two of a multitude of awkward, uncomfortable, painful situations we’ll encounter as Finn’s parents–and nothing compared to what Finn will personally face as a person with a disability in an able-bodied world.

And I know that there is a world of seasoned parents who have gone before us with a myriad of these difficult tales to tell, hidden in their hearts like an old photo album fraying around the edges.

Parents, will you teach your children that everybody’s different in some way? Some of us have glasses, freckles, only one parent, no parents, dark skin, bound to a wheelchair, braces, etc. And teach them that these differences are okay; that they make us beautiful, even. We can learn a lot from people who are different than us.

Another post on differences: Someone Else’s Skin


8 thoughts on “On Being Different

  1. Reminded me of the book by Todd Parr “It’s okay to be different”. Mykah’s pediatricians office has a poster of it hanging on the wall. He’s a funny author, but gets the point across.

  2. Love this post. Man have we had our fair share of looks, comments and such. Last night I was surprised though. At bedtime Owen was crying saying that he was so different just not like anyone else and he couldn’t stand it. I scratched his back Andy heart broke. I leaned down and asked him what was bothering him. He said his spacer. Bawahahaha! You know that thing behind his teeth that literally NO ONE can see or knows is there. Yep. That was the difference. Kids crack me up! So glad I left my questions open and wasn’t leading!!!

  3. I feel your pain. My granddaughter wears hearing aids and she get the looks too. I would rather walk on hot coals than have someone hurt her with a silly comment or indiscreet stare. My daughter has done a beautiful job of trying to help Olivia feel comfortable about her difference but we all dread that day when she is truly hurt by a thoughtless comment or mean teasing child. I appreciate your struggle to keep Finn safe and protected. You are a wonderful mom.

  4. Whether in legs in a chair or a vocab that doesn’t make sense, they are a gift. Swallowing the beautiful reality that Owens will be different than me…and maybe most around him, but I love your reminder to mighty Finn: he’s exactly who he’s supposed to be. Love my friend & her courage.

  5. Pingback: Living the Adventure | our invincible summers

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s