I’m not smart enough to home school my children. Sure I could teach from a syllabus and they wouldn’t be completely inept, but they could potentially be a little stupid because of me. So far I’ve been able to answer most questions adequately, even toughies like "what happened to our cat?" and "can I touch my vagina?" The other day though, I had my first really feeble-minded parent moment.
We were on a new playdate. My daughter wasn’t hitting it off with the little girl so she ended up playing with her older sister. About 15 minutes later my daughter marches into the kitchen with the sister close behind and declares, "She has no fingers and no thumb." Shit shit shit! This wasn’t our first time at this rodeo. Both of my children have put me in precarious situations with strangers by pointing out facial hair and moles. I usually come out unscathed as I allude to my adult acne and tell my kids it’s not ok to point and comment. This was different. She was genuinely shocked. The girl’s mother gave the appropriate answer about how she was born that way and it’s just like one person having a different hair color then another, but it wasn’t. Obviously I have a tremendous amount of respect and compassion for anyone who has anything "extra" to do in order to navigate life. This little girl was so lovely and thankfully her mother’s response quelled my daughter’s inquiry. Once we were in the car, however, the gloves came off and I went down in flames.
I gave the stock, "people come in all shapes and sizes" answer. But the questions were coming fast and furious. "Did her fingers fall off? When I’m older will my fingers fall off? How can she do the monkey bars?" I tried my best but within moments I was in the weeds. In the same awkward sentence I told her this girl was special, different and the same as her. My son starting asking what else could "fall off." When I explained people could be born without entire limbs we went into the lightening round. It was a total clusterfuck. I touched on prosthetics but I watch Food Network, not Discovery. I completely spazzed and alluded to people walking on their hands which no doubt filled them with confusing images and prompted my daughter to ask how they eat upside down. Like an asshole I mentioned seeing a limbless woman on Oprah getting around on a skateboard. What the hell was wrong with me?
In an attempt to undue the confusing and conflicting answers I gave I decided to let them see for themselves. Together we watched an uplifting YouTube video about a boy with no arms or legs. Was it a little inappropriate? Sure. But it allowed me the opportunity to show them what I couldn’t say. Thankfully my husband was Valedictorian so my kids aren’t totally screwed.