We were walking through Whole Foods last week, when Julia decided to let me know she thought someone looked funny.
She wasn’t quiet about it.
In fact, the person she was referring to turned around.
My cheeks went bright red. My first instinct was to be indignant and tell Julia, “That’s not a nice thing to say.” You know, loud enough so that others around would know what a good mother I was….
But then I thought about it. It wasn’t just about me and really, what would she learn from that statement?
Instead, I took the time to kneel down and ask her why she thought the person looked funny.
“She’s missing a hand.”
The woman was. And I think this was one of the first times Julia has noticed someone with a disability. At least it was the first time she had vocally noticed someone.
“You’re right,” I said. “But it doesn’t make her funny looking, it makes her different.”
I proceeded to tell her how everyone is different. I pointed out how she has blue eyes and I have brown. I reminded her about how her friend Sam wears hearing aids and she doesn’t. I explained that some people are born with legs that might not work, or hands that could be missing.
And then I asked her next time she noticed someone different, to let me know quietly. That sometimes it wasn’t nice for her to yell it out, it might make them feel funny, or sad, or bad.
“You know,” I said. “Like when someone at school called you funny.”
The next time, she did.
When she saw someone different she tugged at my shirt and whispered. “Momma, look he’s in chair (wheelchair). I hope he’s not sad.”
I smiled. She’d not only learned about differences in people, but she also how to be discreet and have empathy.
Have you ever had of these awkward moments? How did you handle it?
Linking up with Shell @ Things I Can’t Say for Pour Your Heart Out.