“What happened to your arm?”
I hear this a lot. Probably not as often as people would like to ask it, but enough. And the answer is always the same. “Oh, I was just born that way.” “Oh,” they’ll reply. Sometimes they’ll tell me about their grandpa who got his arm cutoff in a farming accident or a teacher they had in high school that was “like that.” Usually it’s a quick, open and shut case, though.
Sometimes, though…sometimes I have a little fun with it.
For instance, this summer I took my kids to the park and they were making some new friends. One little boy, he was probably six years old, came up to me and said, “Hey, what happened to your arm, man?”
“I was just born that way,” I replied.
“No, really, what happened?” he insisted.
“When I was born, I only had one hand. When you were born, you had two, right? I just had one.”
“Right, right, but what happened, man?”
I love this about kids. They literally can’t comprehend that a person could be born that way. So many kids ask me where I keep it and look behind my back and look at me as if I’m trying to trick them. It’s fantastic. So, knowing this little guy wasn’t buying it, I went for broke.
“Ok, I cut it off with a chainsaw,” I said.
“Fo’ real? Did it hurt?” he asked, completely unfazed.
“Yeah, man. It hurt a lot. But, it’s cool now. Doesn’t hurt at all.”
“Straight, straight.” And then he went and played some more.
At one point he came back and said, “Hey, mister, my sister (over on the swings) wants to see your arm. HEY, KEISHA! COME OVER HERE AND SEE THIS MAN’S ARM!” he yelled. She ran home.
Then there was the time when my cousin and I were on the McDonald’s Playground. We were young, probably eight or so. We were sitting in that saucer where you pull on the “wheel” in the middle and then it spins and spins. Sitting across from us were three little kids. They were staring and obviously scared. Eventually, one of them squeaked out, “Wh…what happened to your arm?” My cousin and I looked at each other and what I did next was mean, but hilarious.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
The kids looked at each other, confused. “Well, your arm…what happened to it?”
“I’m not sure what you…” then I looked down and screamed. “NOOOOOO! MY ARM! WHERE’S MY ARM!!”
We jumped out of the saucer and started running around, throwing wood chips, climbing the Hamburgler statue all while screaming and laughing. Finally, out of breath, we came back to the saucer. It was empty. They must have run away at some point during our freakout. Hopefully we didn’t scar them for life.
I also vaguely remember my dad saying things about sharks and alligators to little kids that would ask about it. I think he just liked to see their reaction.
Now, I’m not encouraging amputees or their relatives to do this all the time. But, from time to time, if you can read a person, it can be fun.
Mostly for you, but still…
If you’re an amputee, have you ever done this? If you’re not, have you ever had it done to you?
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My 7 year old son tells adults who ask about his leg that he is “A retired alligator wreastler”.
I love it! lol
Being a swimmer and swim coach I like to tell people I was hand feeding sharks. I also like that instead of saying to my kids “pound knuckles” I say “pound the nub”. My own kids and my students will actually refuse to give me knuckles if I give them my good hand. The nub is more popular!
I love it, I need to start writing some of these down for years to come…(when Lilly is old enough to use them)
Thanks again for all you write, you keep making me smile over and over again.
Thanks for saying so, Christine! 🙂
A friend from high school used to tell people when he was a kid, that he “lost it in ‘Nam”. (I love that one!) I’ve used it with Noah (my five year-old) before. Also, the “farming accident” one has gotten a few laughs. It really seems to disarm people and help them realize that it’s not taboo to joke around about it.
Absolutely. I believe firmly that humor makes nearly any awkward or uncomfortable situation more bearable. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Yes it is okay in moderation but when my friend’s prosthetic leg flew whilst he was playing football, it did create something of a sensation and some players were so ditraught they refused to play any more .. they were seemingly psyched out ..
So just be careful whom you tease and how ..
hehehe, Thanks for the perspective!
My 10 year old also likes to play sometimes. She told a little boy on the train that she talked back to her parents and when she woke up the next morning her fingers were gone… I have to say she told him this after he would not stop staring and kept whispering about her but would not talk to her when she asked him if he wanted to touch it.
Her fingers were gone. I love it. lol Thanks for sharing! 🙂
great comments…. one of my friends has his lak socket painted in union jack flag, its an eye stopper he gets loads of support for charities and 99% of the public say he looks grand in his shorts,, why cover it up?
love this post. I answer for my child all of the time. Most of the time we say “born this way” but some kids don’t get it. Once we were in a bookstore and two 8-9 yr old boys couldn’t leave it alone. Finally I asked my son, (a young 4) “do you want to talk about it?” to which responded “no”. I looked at the boys and told them that one time there was this shark…and the boys left and we went on with our day. Later my sweet boy looked up at me with big eyes and said “Mom, did a shark bite my hand off?” I said no, but that sometimes people don’t have a file for you and they don’t really care about the truth, they are just curious, so it’s fun to give them a story. He laughed and laughed. Thanks for this site! Can’t wait to show my son.
My daughter who just tuned 4 has not starting telling story’s yet (although I secretly can’t wait) She just tells kids that “God made her special”. Thank you for this website it has made my morning.
Yay! So glad you found us, Lauren. 🙂
My favorite one was when my son told his friends, who were asking about what happened to your mom’s arm, “She got it shot off” which then caused the class to freak out and I got called in to a parent teacher conf. My Husband and I still Laugh about it.
LOL That’s awesome! I mean, totally inappropriate, but… hehe
That. Is. AWESOME.
When my son was born(6 fingers 5 and1) a second shift nurse said oh he is adorable then said the old line “ten fingers ten toes?” I glanced at my wife gave a little smile then looked at the nurse and said no not really.u should have seen the look on her face.i felt bad later but she probably never asked that again .lol. he is 8 now he plays wii which theroretically a person needs 2 hands to play one for the main controller and the other for the nunchuk.this kids figured out how to play and whips his brother and sister (no limb difference) at every game .he is the most determined incredible little boy in the world he doesnt ask for help with anything .he actually gets mad when u ask if he needs help.
Ha! I’m SURE she changed her line of questioning after that. lol Your little guy sounds awesome. 🙂