We went to our first Reach regional meet up at the weekend.
Reach is the UKs leading charity for those with an upper limb difference, of which we’re members. Each region has regular meet ups for members and this was our first one since joining. It was at the amazing The Ice Cream Farm in Cheshire.
We had a great time, it was so nice to meet other families who have a child with an upper limb difference and in particular to see a few children there who had almost an identical arm to my right hand man, it was wonderful to see them play and confirm that, yep, he is going to be absolutely grand in life because he has an abundance of ability. We are really looking forward to the next one.
I got to witness other children noticing a couple of the Reach girls and it was interesting to see their parents reactions.
The first one was when I was queuing for the toilet, a Reach child had just come out before I went in, as I walked in a girl was in middle of asking her mum about the person she’d just seen (the Reach child). The mum, who I shall nickname ‘The MumStar’ responded back in such a positive way, and ended up telling her daughter that rather than staring why doesn’t she just ask. The daughter wasn’t too sure about that and in the end I joined in with the conversation, which is always a bit awkward in the toilet queue but hey ho! I explained that my son only has one hand and we would be more than happy if she came up and asked about it. Then a cubicle became free and there ended the conversation.
The second one came from a little three year old who was sat with her parents. She’d just seen a Reach girl run past.
“Daddy there’s a girl with one hand!” Exclaims the little girl,
“I know.” Replies her dad, at that point the girl with one hand that she saw walks back past them,
“THAT ONE!” yells the little girl pointing.
The parents were rather taken aback by the sudden and very obvious pointing by their daughter. They very hastily explained that we don’t point. They didn’t handle it very well at all. The opposite of the calm collected MumStar I saw in the toilet.
Now I’m not judging here, because those parents were us and the three year old girl was our daughter!
Our daughter absolutely loved seeing other children like her brother, it was all very exciting for her. However, what I hadn’t prepared myself for was the unfiltered reactions of a three year old!
I think because of her brother I just assumed she’d be fine but I’d completely forgot that she is a typical three year old. For her it is completely normal that her brother doesn’t have a left hand but it isn’t normal (at the moment) for her to see other children with limb differences. We have a big lesson to learn here about how we deal with her reactions!!
We’ve experienced other people’s children randomly blurt something out about my right hand man, and we’ve seen the look of panic and embarrassment on a parents face, not knowing quite what to do, we always find ways to put the parent at ease and have a nice chat. Now we’ve got a massive ‘been there’ response. We know what it’s like from that side of the conversation and I love it. I said a couple of posts ago that we are all learning. I love being challenged, I love not getting things right or handling a situation in the best way possible because that is how we learn.
Obviously I’m annoyed at myself for becoming flustered, but hopefully from this I can grow and develop into a person (and a parent) who can be confident in these kinds of situations and help my children become confident, accepting, no limits people.