February 24, 2011

The dreaded question

It finally came. Earlier than I expected. The moment where he asked what happened to his arm.

It really caught me off guard. He is only two and a half!

This morning as we were getting Gavin dressed he pointed to his little arm and I think his exact words were, "What happen? What happen for my arm?"

John and I just kind of looked at each other for a few seconds and for some reason I couldn't think of what to say. I thought I would have the perfect response because I have thought about it many times but all I said was, "Umm...that's just your little arm that you've always had."

And he didn't ask anything else. (Surprisingly...because he is at the stage where everything is "Why? Why Mommy? Why?")

I kind of know where the question came from because a few days ago I took him to the Early Years Center and there were a few kids that were asking a lot of questions about his arm. That always happens when we go there but we haven't been in several months.

There was an older boy that was playing with him for quite a while before he noticed. It was after almost an hour of playing that he suddenly grabbed Gavin's arm and said, "What kind of an arm is that?" and then asked me what happened. I gave the usual response that he was born that way. The boy said, "He can't even hold anything with that arm." And I told him, "Yes he can!" He asked, "How?" and I said, "Well why don't you ask him and maybe he will show you." The boy quickly saw how Gavin can hold things and after that, he moved on and they continued to play together.

Later, some more older kids came and the boy decided he would rather play with them. He started asking me when Gavin was going to go home because Gavin had a toy that he wanted. Then he loudly said that only 4 people can play the game and he counted, "1-2-3-4", pointing to himself and 3 other children and leaving Gavin out. Gavin loudly said,"1-2-3-4 play the game!" and pointed to himself! He was completely clueless that the boy was trying to exclude him and was simply copying him but I was still proud of him!

Then a little girl noticed Gavin's arm and ran to her mom and was pointing and saying, "That baby's arm is broken!" She kept grabbing his arm when he was trying to play and I had to step in and tell her not to (While her mom stood by and pretended not to notice, by the way, which is my biggest pet peeve ever!!! I understand it may be awkward and people don't know how to handle it but COME ON!) She was asking questions and I was answering her but she continued to say that his arm was broken and point at it.

On the way home I talked to Gavin about saying, "Don't touch me please!" if he does not like it when someone touches him.

This experience was nothing out of the ordinary. The same thing pretty much happens every time we go there because there are always different children and children are curious. But now he is at the age where he understands when they point out his difference and I'm afraid of him getting his feelings hurt or worrying that something is wrong with his arm.

It makes me sad that he will always have to deal with the questions, the stares and the pointing. All we can do is help him feel confident about himself, develop good self-esteem and get used to answering the endless questions.


  1. I think you have handled everything with Gavin with such grace. It seems that Gav has a good sense of self confidence so that is a testament to good parenting. I think you answered his question as honestly as you could and it seems he was pleased with the answer. Kids will always make fun of other kids, and if it were my kid, my heart would break every time. i guess that's knowing how much love you have for your child and Gav has so much!

  2. You did great mom! I admire your courage in taking him to places with so many new kids. Rest assurred that the questioning does get easier...its all about practice and putting on a brave confident face so Gavin can mimic how you respond to the questions. That is what we found happened with Sebastian...he answers the questions the same way that I do. At 7 he has an amazing degree of confidence, partly due to parenting and partly because he was born rather self-assurred.
    As long as you are comfortable with his cute arm he will carry that feeling as well. And sometimes it is about putting on a good show and answering as if it doesn't bother you and then going home, shutting the door and having a good cry. It will get easier. And you are not alone.
    At his age, Seb has the ability to answer the question or not answer, walk away or say "I don't want to talk about it right now". Its his body and he is in charge of his responses. Sounds like you are laying some excellent ground work.
    You are doing a wonderful job raising that precious boy!!

  3. You are amazing and it makes my eyes fill with tears - you are such a good Mom and Gavin is amazing.


  4. I can relate to how you feel when these situations occur. It's particularly difficult when children touch and grab. I believe they don't know any better & a lot of times you can tell it's because their parents don't know how to handle it either. After reading this post, I began to re-play a situation that we faced, it seemed to go right over my little guy's head- he just wanted to play. This is not easy. I agree with the other ladies....you seem to handle it all with grace and Gavin is blessed to have you, as you are blessed to have him. I also agree with the mom who said....."sometimes it is about putting on a good show and answering as if it doesn't bother you and then going home, shutting the door and having a good cry." I know that all too well. That's what we do.....we are the mommys of amazing little children. I believe that our little guys were born with everything they need to face & CONQUER difficult situations. Thanks again for sharing.