The conversation went like this.
“Is there something wrong with him?”
Quizzical look at Jack and then back to me
Me: “Oh, he has Cerebral Palsy if that is what you mean”
A year ago I wouldn’t of been able to have this conversation. Just that one question would have made my chest tighten and my eyes well up. My heart would ache with sadness. I remember someone asking something similar once and this is exactly what happened. But people are curious and so I’ve honed my standard response.
However, the other day for some reason the wrong button was pushed. Maybe because Jack was running and playing and laughing with the other kids. Maybe because I was smiling from deep inside as I watched him play with pure abandonment, when my bubble was burst.
It broke my heart to know that it wasn’t his squealing laughter that she noticed. She didn’t say, “Boy he’s having a great time, isn’t he?”, she said, “is there something wrong with him?”.
How do I protect him from this? How do I make him truly know deep within himself that there is NOTHING wrong with him? If adults with an understanding of social courtesy ask questions like this and pass judgement so easily, then what are the children going to say?
We tell Jack that he can do anything if you just try. We tell him that everyone is different and this is a good thing. We tell him that everyone is good at some things and not so good at others. We are trying.
I guess I just have to accept that people will see Jack’s physical disability, I just hope that won’t be the only thing they see.
He is so very much more.