What To Tell Your Kid When They Realize They Only Have One Hand

March 2, 2024 — Leave a comment

The other night I got to spend time with some folks online as the special guest of Unlimbited Possibilities, an organization on the east coast that highlights folks doing cool things in the limb-different space. David, Maria and their son Luca, who I had the pleasure of meeting when I attended the Helping Hands Foundation‘s weekend experience a few weeks back, are such great people and do a fantastic job of bringing people together.

There weren’t a ton of us there, but I was so happy for each smiling face I saw! Many familiar faces and some new ones, too. It’s always SO much fun meeting families who are “new to the scene” who are just eager to meet new friends and learn as much as they can. I love that. There were two things that happened during our time together, though, that I thought were really interesting and powerful that I wanted to share here.

First, my friends Ashley and (her daughter) Flora were there and (with permission) Ashley shared that they had brought my book Different Is Awesome! to class on the first day of school every year until fourth grade and were so grateful for what a difference it made, both in the language it gave Flora to be able to speak about her difference, but then also for her classmates and the teachers to do the same. Then I took a risk and asked Flora herself, “How did you feel every year bringing it to school?” And her honest answer was so great. I’m paraphrasing, but basically she said, “At first I loved it because I felt really important, kind of like the star of the show. And it was really helpful! But after a while it did get kind of like…all the kids already knew me, so by fourth grade it just wasn’t really necessary anymore. For me, at least.” Which makes SO much sense. And honestly, it blows my mind that it’s now been around long enough – almost TEN YEARS! – for so many kids to have it as part of their childhood AND NOW I’M STARTING TO CRY SO ONTO THE NEXT THING I WANTED TO TALK ABOUT… lol

At one point Maria asked if I remembered when I realized that I only had one hand. And if I asked my parents about it. You know…that dreaded moment for parents that I’ve been told about. I was honest and said that I didn’t remember a moment of realization or ever asking my parents and I kind of felt bad because I could tell it was a big deal for her. She said (I’m paraphrasing again), “I vividly remember Luca finally asking why he only had one hand and I was like, this is it! This is the moment! It was like I was being called to the stage and I didn’t want to screw it up, ya know?” I worried a little that I had misremembered, so I asked my mom who was actually on the call and she confirmed that I never asked about it and then, in what put in motion a powerful turn of events, Maria asked Luca if he remembered asking her.

“Nope,” he said and shook his head.

Both David and Maria looked shocked.

“And Luca remembers everything,” David said, “so if he doesn’t remember…that’s something.”

I could tell this was news to Maria. And I think it was…challenging? All these years of wondering if she had said the right things, if she had handled it well…and he didn’t even remember it! lol What a relief, I suppose?! And then as we were processing that another couple was texting their adult son Eric (who was also on the call) asking if he remembered the moment he asked his dad from the back seat while they were going down the highway at 60 miles per hour, “Why do I only have one hand?” “Nope!” he said.

“I remember thinking, ‘Now? Really, Eric??'” his dad said. lol

At the start of the conversation, when Maria initially asked me, I had said that I didn’t know any grown-ups with one hand who remembered the moment they realized they had one hand or that initial conversation with their parents. There might be some, but I’ve not met them. And honestly, that makes all the sense in the world to me. I’ve met thousands of 4-year olds during my school visits who are just starting to realize that me not having two hands is different, but they don’t quite understand it. So the fact that the little us’s with our little one hands don’t remember those first conversations is not surprising. Heck, some of my friends’ kids who I’ve known since they were born and I have seen every week for like four years still sometimes ask about Uncle Ryan’s arm!

So, be encouraged, parents. If you’ve yet to have that first conversation with your little one, don’t worry. Do your best. It’ll be fine. They likely won’t remember it. And you’ll probably have the conversation several times. Or never again. Who knows! And please don’t mishear me…I’m not trying to minimize it. It’s absolutely important. But I just think it’s more important for you than it is for them. And the fact that you care about it, that it’s important to you, tells me that you are going to do a wonderful job.

And if you already did it and you ask your kid if they remember and they don’t…THEN YOU DID AMAZING. 🙂


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

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