Today at Mommy Monsters, I write about a “teachable moment” with my daughter, in which we encounter a special needs child at McDonalds.
My sister lost her leg when she was ten due to complications from cancer — I was twelve. Sometimes people could be downright rude, pointing and staring as though she were deaf and blind rather than simply legless. Chris always much preferred the guileless questions of children, even when those questions made the parents squirm. So now when my kids ask Chris if her leg has grown back yet, she just laughs and says, “No yet!” And I remind them that Aunt Chris’ leg is waiting for her in heaven.
When they comment (always loudly and in earshot) about a young woman at church who has Down syndrome, I try to take my cue from Chris and simply answer the question. “Yes, she has special challenges — she doesn’t talk or act quite the same way you do. But she has special gifts, too. See how she’s always helping in the nursery? See how she always seems happy to be here, instead of grumpy? How she’s kind to everyone? I think she would be a great friend, don’t you? One way you can be her friend is by not saying things to her or about her that might hurt her feelings.”
Today at “International Mom” Julie also has a discussion about how to talk to kids about treating people who are physically or mentally challenged. Go take a look!
This is a great post! Our children always seem to give us opportunities for teachable moments. Your sister seems to have a good sense of humor, too. We’ve had people “look” at us, but I haven’t felt like anyone has treated us differently, yet. Maybe because John Michael, who has Down syndrome, is still little and he’s very social, which brings people out of their shells.