As we entered into the restaurant tonight we were greeted by an adorable teen aged girl. Paige (9 years old) loves teenagers so I didn't think anything of it when I noticed her staring at the hostess. As the hostess turned around I realized why Paige's eyes were fixated on her... she was missing an arm.
I threw Paige my best "mom glare" but I couldn't break the stare.
I tapped her on the back. That didn't work either.
As we sat down I was crossing my fingers that Paige could use some restraint and at least wait until the hostess walked away before blurting out, "Mom did you see her? She's missing an arm!" No such luck.
She immediately asked to go to the bathroom, which I was happy to allow so it would give me time to talk to her about her staring. But, as soon as we got in the bathroom the questioning started...
"Mom, what happened to her?"
"Mom, did she have a freak accident or was she born that way?"
"Mom, can preemies be born without an arm"
As soon as she took a breath, I was able to interrupt her. I reminded her that it isn't kind to stare. "But Mom it's fascinating. Did you see that her other arm is really big?"
I reminded her how much she hates it when people stare at her. I talked about times when she is in a wheelchair or when she has visible tubes (PH probes) and kids have approached her. She has been mortified.
She tried telling me that it was her OCD and that her thoughts were telling her to stare. I explained to her that it was merely human nature and her extreme curiosity.
I never know what to say when she stares. I never know what to say when she sees someone in a wheelchair and yells, "I wonder why their legs don't work?"
To the parents who have kids with various abilities... what would you like parents to say to their children? Do you want to be approached with their questions? What do you wish parents/children would not say?