Most people think that we must get annoyed with people always asking what happened to Gavin's arm. But the truth is, that people very rarely ask. People very rarely acknowledge it at all. Which is fine. Its not like I want people to be pointing it out all the time or having the same questions asked over & over. But I'm always more than happy to talk about it if people are curious.
I guess my point is that you don't have to pretend you don't notice. We know when you notice. Don't think your little sidelong glances and whispers go undetected. Its OK to acknowledge it. Its no secret that he is missing a hand! So I just wanted to say that if you notice someone who is different, its better to just approach them in a friendly way and start a conversation or ask your question than to stare or try to ignore it.
You know what I love about kids? They are SO HONEST. They aren't afraid to ask questions and they'll tell you EXACTLY what they're thinking. Kids are usually the only ones to acknowledge that Gavin's arm is different. When adults notice it they usually feel too awkward to ask about it. Some even get embarrassed when their kids start talking about it.
I have heard kids say some pretty amusing things. When Gavin was just born and our neighbours came over to meet him, their little boy said, "Aww his arm is tucked up inside his sleeve." I laughed and explained that actually that is the way his arm is.
A lot of kids have asked me why he's missing his hand. Some want to know where it is. (Did he lose it somewhere? Did something happen to it? Will it grow back? Does it hurt?) I usually explain it by saying that when he was in my belly his arm didn't finish growing so now he has one little arm but it can still do lots of stuff! He just has to do some things a bit differently but that doesn't stop him.
Most kids are familiar with the Disney movie "Finding Nemo". Nemo the little clown fish was born with one little fin (hence the name of this blog). We didn't come up with that comparison on our own. A lot of parents of children with limb differences use that example and we thought it was so cute! And when you say, "Gavin has one little arm just like Nemo has one little fin", most kids just seem to understand and that's usually the end of the story. Its explained in their own language and now they can move on and continue playing with him without any further questions.
We get a lot of "awww"s and "I'm sorry"s. He doesn't need any of those. Trust me, he is JUST FINE! There is no need to feel sorry for him in any way.
Last month we took Gavin to the McDonald's play place for the first time. As he was coming out of one of those tubes you crawl through, a little girl looked up at him and said, "Oh, what a CUTE baby!" As he crawled all the way out and turned around to look at her, she exlaimed, "OH! He doesn't have a hand! Awwww poor baby." She looked genuinely upset so I told her that its OK. His arm is different but he's just fine and it doesn't hurt. She was asking me lots of questions and I told her that some babies are just born that way. She thought it was cool and asked me if she could show her mom! LOL I kind of ignored that part because I don't like it when kids want to "show" other people. He's not here for your entertainment!
But suddenly she was YELLING across the play room. "HEY MOM! THIS IS GAVIN! He only has 1 hand but some babies are just born like that mom! Isn't he cute?" It was pretty funny. Her mom apologized to me but I told her there's no need to apologize. Her daughter was very sweet. She was just fascinated by Gavin's arm. She wanted to look at it and touch it. Gavin was loving all the attention. He started poking her with his little arm and laughing.
Its different when kids are rude about it. It makes me sad to know that some kids are just mean and he is bound to get his feelings hurt by these kind of comments. I tend to get upset when I hear kids describing it as, "weird." I usually tell them that its not weird, its just different. And there's nothing wrong with different! Some people have curly hair, some have straight hair. Some have a big nose, some have crooked teeth. Most people have two hands but some people have one!
When I was pregnant, my sister and I used to joke about getting shirts made for him with sarcastic comebacks on them like, "I'd rather have one hand than your face!" and "I still have one hand to slap you with!"
I just try to remember that every kid gets picked on for something at some point. He'll be no different. We will just do our best to raise him to be a confident young man with good self-esteem and hope that he can handle it. As his personality shines through more and more each day, I don't worry as much about it anymore.