Friday, February 27, 2009

Cherrio -- Unless You're Different.

Well, my early morning ire was up again today.  Every time I think western humanity is past discrimination, I get a new taste of just how "civilized" we are.  This time, the taste came from Great Britain.  Yes, the land that brought us the Bible in English, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Paddington Bear, and the concept that tea can also mean little yummy sandwiches and cookies, not just a pale yucky liquid.

There is an uproar over a new character on a popular children's television show.  The show, Cheebie, has hired an energetic, engaging young lady who just happens to have been born with a partial right arm.  Since her appearance on the show, there has been an uproar among parents in Great Britain, because apparently their poor sheltered children can't handle seeing a disabled person on television.  

Here are some comments, with my thoughts following them:

"How do you explain to a three-year-old that a host only has part of one arm?" 

She was born with one arm.  Sometimes that happens, but it's okay.  It doesn't hurt and she just has to learn how to do things differently than a person with two arms.

"We are programed to shun people like that as a matter of nature."

What?!?!?!  I think that people are programmed to shun people as a matter of selfish fear, ignorance and an inability to discern what is truly important. 

My child was immediately freaked out and didn’t want to watch. There’s a time and place for showing kids all the “differences” that people can have, but nine in the morning in front of 2 year olds is NOT the place! 

The only times  I've seen children "freak out" about a limb difference is when the child is 1) excessively sheltered and only been around people exactly like them or 2) when the child has obvious severe emotional issues and is trying, desperately, to get the attention of their parent.   I don't even believe that his kid reacted this way, because 2 year olds don't even normally notice the differences, let alone freak out.  Obviously, the Dad was freaking out and putting it on his kid.  This child will grow up disabled, too, because it's got some incredibly horrible parents that aren't bothering to teach him how to embrace humanity. I would much rather have a limb difference than such a shallow and selfish mind. I would have to wonder, as well, if this parent could "stomach" this better at another time during the day.  Maybe after one or two beers? At what point in the day or in life does he think you should do the arduous task of "introducing" his child to disabilities? Is it better after a good lunch?  Probably not before bedtime because he'd worry about nightmares... maybe he could medicate his son and then tell him? What incredible ignorance! 

In my 7 years of parenting children with special needs, I know, I KNOW, that the issue here is not the children watching the show but the ignorant parents.  Kids can handle disabilities, especially young kids.  They ask a couple questions and they move on, so much better than so many adults.  

Well, kudos to the BBC to stepping out and kudos to all the parents in Great Britain who are teaching their children!  Maybe they will  be able to change a society that has, more than once in this past year,  displayed a great disregard for life. 

Here is a Today Show Link to see more about the controversy. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about kids not seeing the differences in people. Last night my kids and I were looking a "Imagine-- Amazing Me!" In about half the photos my five year old son said "Where is he different?"