Anna asked me this the other night as I reading stories to the girls at bedtime. "Why do I have spina bifida?" How do I answer that question?
I didn't want to say, "Because God made you that way," for several reasons so I said, "There wasn't enough folic acid for three babies," and then kicked myself because that answer is probably worse than the God one. I ended with, "No one really knows, sweetie," which actually is the real answer.
I try very hard to teach my children to be accepting of all other children. I feel that this is extremely important and maybe I'm more sensitive to it because of Anna's condition. I would like to hope that if I teach them now that it is not nice or acceptable to make fun of others, it will stay with them.
Now I should note that my children have never made fun of others. They don't know what that means. So right now, I make it a point to say, "We are nice to everyone," when we talk about the kids in their classrooms. Last year, they started asking about skin color and we had several discussions about how everyone is different. We all have different skin tones, different hair and even different eyes.
What I really like about the girls' preschool is that there are kids with all different types of needs along with "peer models." And what I like about this is that my kids are starting their school/social experience accepting all of these children.
A thread was started on one of my MoMs (Moms of Multiples) message boards for everyone to list out their fears. I was surprised and saddened to see how many feared that their children would be made fun or or not have any friends. As a parent, it's normal to have these concerns but I didn't expect to see so many list this as a fear. I was hoping that our generation of children would be different.
Unfortunately, there will always be bullies and parents who don't parent and parents who prime their kids to be the popular kids. But if the good kids outnumber the bad kids, then we have done something right. Right? I still have some hope that our generation of children will be the ones to make a change.
Yesterday afternoon, the girls were all playing with their Little People house. Apparently, there was a birthday party going on and there was quite a bit of discussion over what the "guests-is" were doing. (I do suppose "guests" is a difficult word to pronounce.) Guests-is were arriving. Guests-is were leaving. And then Anna shouted out, "Leave the wheelchair. This boy has spina bifida and can't walk."