Friday, May 8, 2009

Look at Me!

I closed the van door and herded my children towards the entrance of the Y. It was like any other day, especially because the day consisted of going to the Y, and going to the Y seems to be do something I do at least once, if not twice a day. I did not expect anything unusual.

That's when she opened her mouth.

"I just love *$%&*! She's so beautiful! Especially when she's NAKED!"

Now, I immediately knew what my little Nappy meant. She meant that her oldest sister, Swimmer Girl, was beautiful because of who she is not what she is wearing. This came about because whenever Nappy puts on a fluffy outrageous pink dress, she asks me if she looks beautiful. I always answer the same.

"Yes, you look beautiful, but it's because you are beautiful. Without you the dress isn't beautiful."

However, to all the innocent bystanders, this was nothing but just another seriously dysfunctional family heading out to the Y. And, of course, since nothing with Nappy is quiet, all the bystanders heard this.

Part of what I think is really funny about her is that people feel akward about the wheelchair. We've run into this with Swimmer Girl in because of the missing arm and the prosthetic leg. My favorite was a little boy, preschooled age and just as loud as Nappy. We ran into him at the grocery store. The first time he saw Swimmer Girl, he did a double take and then his mouth opened.

"That girl -- she don't got one of her...."

"Shush... don't mention it." His mother quickly hushed him. I could tell this was far from over, though because this was a kid that had to say what he was thinking. So, each time we'd pass him and his mother, he'd start to talk and she'd shush him loudly (far more loudly than if she'd just let it go and just simply address questions). Finally, they passed us and he clearly said,

"I know. I know better. I'm not gonna say even one thing 'bout how that little girl ain't got no arm! I'm not gonna ask where it is or if it's in her shirt. Not one thing. "

I thought his mom was going to die. Swimmer Girl, of course, could've care less because she wasn't paying attention to him. But this highlights what is usually the problem with small children encountering my girls. I don't in any way advocate a parent encouraging a child to ask a person about their disability, because I strongly believe that the questions they ask are personal. However, if a child does point or ask a question, then the best thing is for the parent to simply acknowledge the child's interest and give a simple explaination.

"Yes, she has one arm. Sometimes people are born with one arm."

"Yes, she uses a wheelchair. Sometimes people aren't able to walk or walk well, so they use a wheelchair to get places."

Instead, though, so many parents create a larger scene by trying to "hush up" a child that they think is going to say something embarassing, which, of course, they will, because that's what children do. They say embarassing things like, "My sister looks especially beautiful when she's naked." That, in turn, leads their sister to beg her mother to buy a house where she can have her own bedroom.

What's really funny with Nappy though, is that she is someone that just screams, "Look at me!"

Several weeks ago, we were at the Y (of course). Nappy was wearing a fluffy, light pink princess dress, a pink easter hat, sun glasses and sparkly purple shoes. She is using a purple wheelchair with LIGHT UP wheels and a very pink Strawberry Shortcake backpack attached to the back. She has a bigger mouth than anyone else in the lobby.

So, of course, a little boy pointed at her and his mother started shushing him.

Oh my! Who in the world wouldn't stare at that?

Note: Photography by Ben

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