At the Christmas parade last weekend!
Christian and I experienced something recently that I wanted to talk about and share with you all! We were at his therapy center for him to do his regular physical and feeding therapy, and we were standing at the car because his therapist comes out to the car to get him to go into therapy and then brings him back outside to the car so that we aren't waiting in the lobby. We have been really cautious since long before COVID was a thing about germs and illness because illnesses always seem to hit Christian really hard.
And then of course my dad almost died in February from COVID. So we just try to stay out of heavily populated places when we can and take common sense precautions like regular handwashing. So, one way we try to keep the germs down is to not wait inside the lobby of Christian's therapy center and instead we just wait in the car for therapies.
So anyway, we were standing next to our car with his therapist, and another therapist came walking up with a child and asked the child to apologize to Christian. I didn't really know it was happening at first. I had no context, hadn't seen anything happen, but I have been through this several times, so I assumed pretty quickly that the child said something inappropriate about Christian's appearance as he had walked by and the therapist was attempting to teach the child a lesson in being kind to everyone.
But I didn't notice anything myself because I was talking to the therapist and trying to keep Christians safe because we were standing in a parking lot. So the child apologizes to Christian in the exact way you'd expect a child to apologize when they are asked to do so (lol) and the therapist explains that the child had said that Christian has no eyes when he walked by. So I smiled and said thank you to the child and began my very much at this point well rehearsed speech I give to kids. I let the child know that he was right, that Christian doesn't have any eyes, that Christian is happy and healthy and that he's okay.
The child was very satisfied with that. They did not seem bothered at all. It was a very happy exchange and very quick. So when this other therapist and the child walked away, I'll let our therapist know something that I wanted to share with you guys because I think it's important in how others are addressing their own children and around people with disabilities.
The child that said Christian didn't have any eyes had no reason to apologize to Christian, in my opinion. The child who said that Christian didn't have any eyes made a factual observation. Christian does not, in fact, have eyes. It's just a fact, and not one that caught us by surprise. Factual observations about Christian are not offensive. The fact of the matter is that Christian does not have eyes. The fact of the matter is that when little kids say that Christian has red eyes, they're not inaccurate, and they certainly aren't trying to be mean, because they are talking about the tissue that they see where Christian's eyes should be, something they physically observe, They are making a factual observation and that is not offensive. They are factual statements that, for our family, hold zero negative connotation whatsoever.Especially for Christian, he doesn't hear something about himself that he knows is true, like that he is blind, or that he doesn't have eyes, and feel bothered by that. It's not hurtful to him anymore than saying that Christian has dirty blonde hair or that he wears a size 5 shoe. Those are things that just are. We have raised Christian to not believe that his not having eyes is bad. Is it hard sometimes? Yes. And Christian will tell you that sometimes being blind is hard.
other people can't hear. But at the end of the day, Christian has never thought that being blind is inherently bad, or that the way he was made is inherently bad. He knows it's different, but you know that inside our home, different is celebrated and talked about as a good thing.
So when you punish a child for pointing out a factual observation, and I'll talk more in a second about the fact that it has to be a factual statement, then you are teaching that child that what they see is bad. Think about it this way. If you saw somebody in a wheelchair and your child said that person is in a wheelchair, should you punish or correct or make them apologize? I don't think so. To me, it's the same thing as saying this person has brown hair. This person has blue eyes. This person has dark skin. This person has light skin. This person has curly hair. Those are all simply descriptors that describe what we're seeing about a person, and those things are simply not inherently bad.
not inherently bad, because the disabled person isn't inherently bad.
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