My little boy supplied material for this week’s reflection on changing.
Rather watch the video for this? Click here! I usually record a live video, after the blog comes out, but let’s just say it’s flip-flop week due to some technical issues.
Over the long Upstate New York winter, to keep myself in shape and to help Jaden in falling asleep in the early evening, we swim a few times a week.
This past weekend, after over an hour in the pool and looking like prunes, we climbed out of the pool and made our way, shivering, to the locker room. Sharing the locker area with us was a friendly, older woman who happened to live with a disability. She engaged Jaden in conversation and commented to him how cute he is.
When she said goodbye and walked to the door, Jaden noticed she didn’t have a typical walk. He looked at me, softly giggled, and said quietly, “She walks funny.”
Such a trigger word for me. Another version, to me at least, of saying, “You don’t fit in with your difference,” “If you don’t walk like everyone else, it’s something to laugh at,” or “There’s only one acceptable way to walk.”
This is what the word “funny” conjures up for me when used to describe aspects of disabilities. Sure, the experience of living with a disability can be very humorous at times, but using the word “funny” to describe a function of one’s movement, speech, and thinking is far from that.
Now for the truly funny part of this story. Back to Jaden.
As soon as the word funny crossed his lips, I said, “Jaden, people say that about Mommy all the time.”
Absolute shock as he stepped back and asked incredulously, “What?!”
Oh my darling, you still can’t see it yet, can you?
And in many ways, I hope what I call the Wisdom of Children (there’s a whole chapter devoted to this in Firewalk: Embracing Different Abilities) never leaves him.
The Wisdom of Children is that when children, from birth or a very young age, are around someone with a disability, they don’t really notice the disability because it is so integrated in how they know the person.
If only we could all possess the Wisdom of Children.
After getting over the shock that people think Mommy walks “funny,” I explained to Jaden the better word to use is “differently.” I know, bigger word, but he can handle it.
Differently places us where we belong – living, functioning, being, and going swimming among everyone else, just doing it in our own unique way.
In this season of Changes and Changing, what’s ONE WORD you can change in your vocabulary to feel more empowered?