This week has been rather interesting… two people in two days in a row – and it’s only Tuesday so every day of this week so far – have asked me how I feel is the appropriate way for parents to handle situations when their curious child asks me, “What happened to your arms?”
I must say, there is never a perfect scenario and there is always going to be some level of awkwardness even though i have no issue with a child asking me questions that come from their curiosity. Let’s say, you would never feel completely okay if a stranger approaches you and asks, “Why do you have a pimple on your face?”, right?
However, the only time I get all fired up inside is when I see the parent(s) react with fear. This fearful response often results in the parent running away from the situation acting like nothing’s happened or even avoiding eye contact with me. In many cases, they don’t even seem to realise that they have a responsibility to teach their child to see that I am a person too, just like them. This really bothers me. Not because I feel unfairly treated or judged, but because, as a parent myself, it saddens me when I see a parent fail to see this as an opportunity to teach their child an invaluable lesson about acceptance of others despite everyone’s differences.
By having a parent who’s significantly unique, I hope that my own children will see others for who they are and not see any person as being “different” or as somebody who has “something wrong”. Instead, I hope that my children will continue to grow in faith in knowing that we are all equally beautiful individuals born with unique gifts and abilities. At the very least, they will learn to never be fearful of who they truly are.
So going back to being asked the question, “What happened to your arms?”
My advice to parents is to step out of your own fear and tell your child, “We are all different, but isn’t he/she beautiful and amazing? It is our differences that make us all unique and beautiful!” and say hello to me and smile. At the end of the day, if you had a pimple on your face, I’ll still say hello and smile back to you 🙂