Have you ever played Hide-and-Go-Seek with a person that uses a wheelchair? It’s doable, but man, my options are limited. I stick out like a woman with a Jherri curl that ran out of activator.
There’s no hiding my disability, but there are many peeps that hide their’s in plain sight. During one of Gen’s many social events, I laughed until my belly hurt when a crafty, old man scared the bejeezus out of a little boy. The fruit punch nearly exited my nose — it was that funny! Listen up.
The party was nearing the end (Thank God…but that’s another story), and the kids were wired off of birthday cake chased with fruit punch. As they ran the 200-meter dash around the party table, Grandpa decided to liven the party by removing his prosthetic leg and shaking at the kids as they passed by. I nearly died! Stunned and confused, kids slowly gathered around the new act until…the birthday girl chimed in: “Put your leg back on, silly.” Then, the returning center-of-attention helped him do just that!
It hit me like a sock full of rocks! She had been exposed…in a good way. Exposing and explaining diversity (including people with disabilities) makes inclusion somewhat seamless. When we got in the car, I asked the munchkin what she says when friends ask her why her Mommy uses a wheelchair. “I tell them you hurt your spine and can’t walk.” Then, she went back to coloring Minnie’s polka dots. I mean, her classmates even see a person in a wheelchair in their reading books, so they’re learning about differences and inclusion when it matters most. It was really no big deal.
We, the adults, make it a big deal. Kids are inquisitive and I don’t mind. It’s the adults that truly need a lesson on disability etiquette.
Let’s break the cycle by being respectfully, truthful when our kids come into contact with people that don’t look like them.
What do you tell your kids when asked about a person with a disability?