The other day my son and I were getting groceries and as we walked toward the orange juice we saw a guy about my age who had an arm just like mine. Once we passed him, we looked at each other and smiled and Sam said to me, “Dad, I know what you were thinking.” “Oh, yeah?” I said.
“Yeah,” he said and then dramatically pronounced, “I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!!” while holding his fist in the air.
We laughed super hard because that’s not what I was thinking at all, of course, but it did get me thinking about how I really do react when I see someone else with one hand. This is basically how it goes:
- Nice! One hand.
- Was that head-nod too obnoxious?
- Should I go say hello?
- Should I give him a Living One-Handed card?
- Would that be weird?
- Crap, now he’s past me and I missed my opportunity.
- Should I go after him?
- Will that scare him?
- Am I about to get arrested?
- Can I survive in jail?
As you can see, it’s a rather stressful situation!
The truth is, I never used to notice people with one hand. I’m convinced it was because my own one-handedness was never in the forefront of my mind. But, once I started the website, I suddenly noticed all the time! I imagine it’s like when you buy a car, say a Toyota Camry, and then all you see are Toyota Camrys on the road.
Typically I don’t approach people with one hand, just as I don’t approach people just because they have brown hair or blue eyes. I’m naturally an introvert, too, so approaching strangers isn’t my strong suit anyway. That said, if the opportunity presents itself and it doesn’t seem super awkward, I might say hello and tell them about the website. And now with Different Is Awesome! being out, I can bring that up pretty easily if I happen to be around the parents of a child with one hand, or any physical difference, really.
My kids always run up to tell me whenever they see someone with one hand and it’s adorable. I love that they are aware and excited about what I do and that its removed any fear they have about someone with one hand. When we were in Ohio this year for the Helping Hands Midwest picnic, the man at the front desk of our hotel had a limb-difference and do you know how I knew that? Each of my kids went to the lobby to get breakfast at different times and each of them returned to excitedly tell me about him. As we checked out I mentioned it to him and he thought it was hilarious and we had a nice short discussion about the picnic, which he hadn’t heard of.
Ultimately, I notice people with one hand more now than I did before, but for the most part I don’t do anything but that…notice it.
And sometimes yell, “I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!!!”
If you’re an adult with a limb-difference and you see someone else like you, how do you react? If you’re a parent and you see another child who looks like yours, do you seek out the parents? Share your experience in the comments!