Sunday, February 27, 2011

A new generation

"Why do I have spina bifida?"

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."


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10 comments:

Colleen said...

That's a hard question! And a very mature question for such a little girl!

Amy said...

I've thought about how I will answer the "Why did Caitlin get an encephalocele?" "Why did Caitlin die?" "Why does Julia have cerebral palsy?" questions when the girls are old enough to articulate them.

I don't like the "God made you this way" answer, because it will most likely lead to thinking that either 1) Caitlin and/or Julia were bad, and that is why God did not perform a miracle on them and make them "perfect", or 2) my husband and I were bad, and as a punishment these things happened. And I don't like the folic acid answer either, because it makes it seem like it was something under my control, and that I did this to them. Plus, who knows if that's why it happened?

I think I'm going with something similar to your response - Nobody really knows why it happened, but sometimes things just happen and people come out differently, and that is okay.

Marcia (123 blog) said...

Tough question!

I liked the no one knows answer because unfortunately, life is like that - we don't have answers for everything. I'd STILL like to know why I had to have an infertile diagnosis.

Then, love the wheelchair quote!!!

Cindy said...

Sometimes it is so difficult to answer our kids' questions. Honesty is always the best policy, I find. And "I don't know" is a perfectly honest answer. I have had to use that response to my daughter to answer a very difficult and painful question and it is a hard one to swallow.

I love that your girls are open and inquisitive and that their play reflects their acceptance of all kinds of people. So wonderful.

Life via Lens said...

"No one really knows, sweetie"... love the simple answer and approach you chose to navigate with through such a difficult question.

Chantel said...

I took Claudia to a preschool gymnastics class and she was trying so hard to play with two other little girls and they kept giving her weird looks and walking away from her. Claudia had no idea what was happening but I did and it broke my heart. It is a big fear of mine...I don't need her to be popular, but I want to protect her fragile heart (I also don't want her to be the bully either).

JourneyWithTheCrosiers said...

"No one really knows"...same as my favorite, "we'll just have to wait and see!" The world of SB is a tricky one! Good answer though, momma!

**I just started reading your blog not too long ago, but love. love. love. all the adorable pictures of your little sweeties! I have Beckett (8 months, SB/shunt at 9 days) and Paisley (3 years).
Meghan @ http://journeywiththecrosiers.blogspot.com/

Sarah said...

Amy -I have the same thoughts and feelings.

Chantel - Oh, that broke my heart too.

Meghan - thank you for your comment. I always like to hear from other moms whose kids have SB.

Meg :) said...

What a hard thing to answer! I think you did a good job though. She'll understand more as she gets older.

I have the same hopes as you for the newest generation. :)

Summers Family said...

Ohh, I am so dreading that conversation with Annabelle. The boys have asked but it feels different talking with them then her.

So loved the wheelchair comment! My boys are always doing stuff like that and I love it.