Monday, August 07, 2017

A Moment

I was pushing towards the washroom, rushing, when I saw a young mom with her son. He was looking up at her talking. Then he looked and saw me. He came to a dead stop. His finger went up, pointing directly at me. He called for his mother to look.

She looked down and saw him, thunderstruck, then saw me.

"Yes, honey, he's different than you, she said, "He's wearing a green shirt and you're wearing a blue one."

He looked at her with a "What The Fruit Loops Is Wrong With You" look on his face.

She, however, just continued on, him in tow.

13 comments:

Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

And THAT'S how you teach children.

Unknown said...

That's one of those 'grace notes' in an otherwise ordinary day.
That little boy has a very wise mother,
thanks for sharing.
clairesmum

Shannon said...

I love her answer.

Rachel S said...

I actually don't love it, though it's ligbtyears better than it could have been. She could have said something like, "Yes, he uses a wheelchair to get around," or something along those lines. To me just pointing to Dave's shirt color means "let's pretend not to see disability" and it's no wonder the kid was sort of WTF? I'm quite sure the shirt was not the attention-grabber here.

Mine may be a minority opinion, but I don't mind little kids noticing my physical differences. They're observing, not judging, until they're taught otherwise.

Purpletta said...

So I am clearly in the minority here but I grew up in a household where reality was constantly denied. As a result (after many years of therapy - lol) I may tend to overthink things. However I have kind of a different perspective on this situation.

Kids are very very observant. Kids are not judgemental. Kids notice things. They notice difference. Difference is part of the normal healthy typical human experience.

Was the mom not denying the boy's observations? Or was she trying to teach a deeper lesson? To me as someone who is always on guard because of those early years, I question what the mom's statement conveyed to the young boy. But perhaps if the foundation of their relationship was healthy and not one which denies reality overall then this statement would be interpreted differently. It feels to me like she dismissed her son's observations.

Purpletta said...

PS - I don't think that you (or anyone) should have to be a lesson to others though. You have a right to privacy and to go about your day, and trip to the washroom, in a quiet way. If that was the mother's motives, I absolutely support that.

L said...

I don't love her answer, because I think the message the boy hears is disability = shameful/not to be spoken about.

I think a better answer would be "Yes, he uses wheels to get around! Aren't his wheels cool?"

h smith said...

I dont get how thats wise or a good lesson. It sounds too much like erasure and gaslighting to me. And that kid is just left wondering how come his mum didnt see what he saw and why the big man on wheels is one of those 'things we dont talk about in public dear'. Surely 'yeah, he's got a wheelchair, isnt that cool' would've been a better answer, or'yes, its a huge man, its cool how we're all different shapes and sizes isnt it', or even 'yes, hes huge and on wheels and look hes got a different colour t-shirt on to you too' if that was the important focus for the mum. But deliberately and purposefully ignoring difference and disability, pretending that it, that we, arent real, is fear not acceptance and thats a rubbish lesson to teach the kid.

Andrea Shettle, MSW said...

I agree with Rachel S and with L. And I can also definitely see the points made by Purpletta and h smith. I think the mother probably meant well, but had gotten the messed up message that the way to teach kids to accept differences is to pretend they don't exist. Except research shows that really just teaches kids that difference is a taboo subject and probably something bad (or else grown ups would just talk about it), so being different must mean being bad.

Shannon said...

i can see it from that perspective too, about not pretending differences don't exist. If mom said "yes he's using a wheelchair" or something like that with not too much embellishment, I think it is also a good answer. I guess I liked it because I love being referred to by something other than my wheelchair, preferably by my name but if someone doesn't know it I'd rather be pointed out for something I'm wearing or my hair color, but that doesn't happen often.

Ettina said...

I'm another person who thinks the mother should have acknowledged Dave's wheelchair. Disability isn't something you should pretend not to notice. That just makes it seem like something to be ashamed of.

Rachel S said...

Oh, I see what she was trying to do, but she was going about it backwards. I'm not comfortable with the whole "I don't see (whatever)" idea anyway - I sure do see differences among people. It's part of the fun of being human, we come in so many varieties!

Though this does want me to find the loudest most awful Hawaiian shirt possible and send it to you, Dave, just because if somebody's going to say "look at that shirt!" they might as well actually be looking at the shirt! :)

Mary Nau said...

I'm thinking a little imprinting was accomplished. Kinda like, "mom is not plussed about anything here. Therefore, I see no reason to be especially taken aback either." Cool.