“HE HAS ONE ARM! I’M TOTALLY FREAKED OUT!” she yelled.
Basically right in my face.
I dropped my daughter off at her pre-k classroom this morning and that’s how one of the girls regaled me. A number of them started screaming, feeding off of each other, and as I left I saw Claire say, “He actually has one and a HALF!” I wanted to laugh, but It wasn’t funny. She looked sad and uncomfortable. I wished I could have stayed, but had to go to work. I wish I had stayed anyway.
If you know me at all, you’re aware that I don’t mind kids’ stares and awkward (read: offensive) reactions. They’re kids. Yes, it can be obnoxious, but whatever. Today, though, I thought to myself, “What if I weren’t me?” What if I was somebody that was more self-conscious; someone less comfortable with himself? I’d have been horrified! I would have yelled at those kids and cried when I got back to my car, telling myself, “THIS is why you don’t go out.”
And then at dinner I asked Claire about this morning and she got really sad. I asked about their reaction and she said they just kept laughing because they “thought it was weird.” My arm, she meant. “Did you say anything?” I asked. “I tried to, but they just kept laughing and not listening to me!” Claire replied. It broke my heart. She tried to defend me, but it fell on deaf ears.
Tomorrow I’m going to stay for a few extra minutes when I drop Claire off.
I want the kids to be able to ask me questions. I want to give Claire a chance to say something if she wants to. I want them to see that I’m not something to be freaked-out by, but that I’m a loving dad and a pretty funny guy. I want to tell them, lovingly, that laughing and screaming about someone’s difference is inappropriate. I will tell them that we’re all different in some way and that, instead of freaking-out about it, we should ask questions nicely and get to know people as friends. I want to help out the next person who might not be like me.
And I’m still debating about whether or not to end our time together by screaming and chasing them around the room while I flail my arms.