How to go Bowling With One Hand

October 20, 2012 — 7 Comments

almost made it out of the bowling alley without getting stared at.


Last night Sam and I went bowling and it was great.  Total “Guy’s Night Out” material.  Sam was disappointed in his scores, as was I with mine, but we still had a lot of fun.  Plus, we made these videos:

You couldn’t write it any better. Then I was like, “Stand over here and try it so you can see the pins.” And then this happened:


Since it was a Friday night, the alley was full and there were a number of parties happening. As Sam and I walked out, we passed by a little girl’s party; she must have been turning 7 or 8. So, there they all were, a little group of little girls, giggling and smiling and…being little girls. Then, one of them spotted me. Her face turned serious and she grabbed the girls closest to her. Then they turned serious and grabbed the girls closest to them. There they all stood, holding onto each other and looking at me, clearly having no idea what to think or do. Only one of them pointed, which was nice. I smiled and waved and out the door we went.

I loved that Sam had no idea. He was just hanging out with dad and we were on our way to get something to eat. The event didn’t bother me, though it was maybe the most dramatic staring event that I’ve experienced in quite some time. What I was thinking, too, is that their reaction was natural. I know a lot of parents right now are saying, “That was so RUDE! You should have gone up to their parents and taught them a lesson in acceptance and how to be polite!” And I hear you. I do.

My perspective, though, is that people will always stare. Is it rude? Sure. But, it’s natural to be thrown-off when you see something different; something you’re not used to. So, I choose not to get angry about it. If the opportunity presents itself for me to teach someone about acceptance and the like, fantastic, but I’m not going to walk around with a chip on my shoulder thinking, “I can’t believe how rude everyone is! I’m going to teach them all a lesson!” I’d go crazy.

I’m comfortable with the way I look. In fact, I’m more self-conscious about my weight than I am about my arm. So, people can stare and I understand. It’s their deal, not mine. It’s not ideal, but it’s life. And if the opportunity presents itself for me to meet them and show them that I’m just a normal dude…great.

And if not, they can just be awed by my one-handed bowling skills.

I’d love your thoughts about how you’ve dealt with staring or what you’ve taught your kids about it!

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I'm a husband, a father, an author, a speaker, a friend...all kinds of things, actually.

7 responses to How to go Bowling With One Hand

  1. The child is NEVER to blame: kids are naturally curious about differences. What irks me is when they are tugging on their parents’ clothes and telling them about it, and the parent just ignores them. Therein lies a perfect teaching/learning experience.

    If it’s been a bad day, people have been exceptionally rude wherever we are, I point out the differences of the other parents, which typically makes them draw their children closer, quieting them in the process. My kids see “Dad” do everything with his one hand and don’t think any less of me for the difference.

    Of course, I empathize on your being more uncomfortable with your weight than your missing hand. I started seriously working out, and am feeling much better. “No excuses!!!” That is Hector Picard’s motto, and if he can do it, there’s no reason why a “Lucky Finner” CAN’T!!! Lucky fins rock!!!

  2. We get stared at alot. There are 2 reasons…our family doesn’t “match.” Our kids are Asian…my husband & I are caucasian. And, my son is missing part of his arm.

    I recall my sister & her family going to our state fair with us one year. She couldn’t believe how many people stared & pointed as we walked by. I hesitate to say you get used to it, but the stares & whispers have certainly becaome “normal” or “ordinary” for us.

    I’ve coped the URL codes from a couple of blog posts I recently wrote on being stared at & getting lots of questions.

  3. As the mom of a 3 year old with a limb difference I can tell you that I love when other kids stare. I believe as you do that it gives me the chance to teach them that she is a happy, resourceful, sweet girl and it gives me the chance to show her that it is ok to be stare at and model how to handle it. I normally approach the kids and talk to them, tell them her name is Sammy, something cool she can do and explain that she was born like that. Of course by then, the parents are mortified, but I also take the chance to talk to them and teach them that it is ok to ask.
    Thank you for sharing your experience!

  4. Interesting blog, Ryan… I was in a museum in Houston, on my last tour and I was wearing a t-shirt that day. It was a weekday afternoon and there were probably only 10 to 15 people milling around. 

    I was reading about the history of the area I was visiting, in a totally quiet setting, and this little girl started shouting to her parent, in Spanish, to come and look at me. It was totally silent except for her shouting and pointing and bending her arm to look like mine. 

    The parent came over and I smiled and nodded to show all was well and they could address the child with my unembarassed blessing, but they didn’t say anything to stop the shouting or staring. They looked at me and sheepishly looked back at the exhibit and attempted to ignore the shouting child. The child continued to follow me and point and shout for several minutes. It was comically bizzare. 

    I actually laughed about it and had to collect my thoughts in a “Did that really just happen?” moment. 

    I haven’t really thought about it since that day, but it stands out because it wasn’t a particularly good teaching situation which I would have preferred. 

    It did make me think though – Imagine the influence that people with differences have. It’s often suggested that our society is becoming numb, but there are still individuals that make people shout with curiosity and a rude unbridled wonder… I kinda like it. 

  5. Having grown up with one hand, I have learned a lot about feeling the impact of stares! I’m a teacher now and I love to be able to tell my story and answer the hundreds of questions my pupils have. I play a game with them to get them to come up with something I can’t do because I have no right hand. It really helps them to overcome their prejudices and hopefully make them better able to cope when they meet a person with limb difference.

  6. I totally agree that doing a double-take is totally normal and okay. In fact, there’s a book by a guy who’s a bilateral hip disartic (no legs at all), titled Double Take (

    The author travelled the world and captured on film the many expressions of “double take” when he was seen riding around on his skateboard, legless. What’s beautiful and amazing to me is that he did not come away saying, “Wow, everyone’s a jerk,” but instead said, “Wow, this is a totally normal and human reaction.”

    Of course we are noticed everywhere we go – I have an adorable happy baby (10 months old) and a 2 1/2 year old who is outgoing and happy and has the biggest blue eyes… and has one leg and one and a half arms. When we go to the doctor, ALL the nurses drop by to say hello. At the library, EVERY librarian makes a point of seeing Rosie. And most kids stop and look and whisper to their friends. Rosie’s not old enough to notice yet, so I don’t have to address it with her. And all I do is watch for the panicked, scared, creeped out look on a kid’s face so I know to find their parent and help them to at least know what’s going on. Some kids have a really hard time so I stop and talk with them. But most of the time we just say HI and keep on going. It’s simply part of life for us.

    • Jessica, this is great! Rosie sounds wonderful and she’s blessed to have a mom like you.

      I loved Kevin’s book and am looking forward to his travel show!

      Thanks for commenting! 🙂

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