On Tuesday evening, Jack and I were sitting at the kitchen counter… he was playing Temple Run on the iPad and I was working on the computer. Out of the blue he says, “When are my fingers going to grow?”
We talk about his little hand fairly regularly. It comes up when we have play dates with new friends (and old friends – kids are often fixated on it and who can blame them, it’s different). I notice the looks from other children when we are at the park. I weigh out what I should say and what I should leave up to Jack to say for himself.
“Did those kids ask about your hand? What did you tell them?”
“That God made me special!”
But still, he wonders when he’s going to grow fingers. If only it worked that way (or not). Do I wish Jack could just grow some new fingers and have a fully developed hand? Not as often as you’d think, at least not anymore. Jack’s hand is part of who he is and it’s a part of who he will be. I’ve said before that I don’t believe it’s ever going to stop him from doing something he puts his mind to, but I do wish I could erase every potential hurtful thing other people could do or say with regard to his hand.
Yesterday, Simon posted a link to Tony Memmel’s “Lucky Fin Song” and the first comment was: “Simon, do you have a child with a limb problem?”
Breathe in. Breathe out. Even the well-intentioned say things that can be hurtful. We prefer limb difference. Our culture needs to change its vocabulary when it comes to talking about people with differences. We so quickly wonder, “What’s wrong with him?” when we see a person in a wheel chair. We label people with “disabilities” as if they are without ability instead of just being differently-abled. We shy away from asking what made them how they are or getting to know someone for who they are and instead stare and whisper when we think they aren’t paying attention. We need to change.
So, back to Tuesday and Jack’s question about his hand/fingers… no matter how many times we have talked about his hand and explained that it’s the way God made him; that it’s not going to change but just grow bigger with him, like his other hand (but without fingers) he still wonders and hopes that things will be different someday. I believe this will be a conversation we have many times in his lifetime, with varying emotions coming from my spitfire of a child. So instead of explaining it again, I opted to show him all the posts on the Lucky Fin Project’s Facebook page (take a minute to go “Like” them, I’ll wait). Clicking on photo after photo of kids and adults who, like him, were born a little bit different but just how God wanted them to be. And then we watched the “Lucky Fin Song” video (see below) and Jack spent the rest of the evening singing, “Yeah, I’ve got this fin but you should see me swim…”
We should all be so lucky to have a community to turn to when we are looking for answers specific to what we are going through. I hope Jack continues to find comfort in that community and as he grows, I hope he doesn’t forget that his little hand is just one small part of what makes him special.
“There’s always a choice and it’s time to dive. And when the day is feeling long and the sky is getting dark, you have got to let your light shine. Know how great you are!”
Tony Memmel, Lucky Fin Song
Also, go like Tony Memmel.