You know when I was in High School or Middle School, I didn’t understand kids that had a physical disability. TO me it was awkward, scary, and just felt weird. I fully admit I stared, I laughed, but I didn’t understand. Nobody had ever explained it to me, nor had I ever met someone to help me understand.
When I had Joe he was most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen. There wasn’t anything about him that wasn’t perfect. About 6 months later when my neighbor told me she thought I should bring him to the doctor I wasn’t worried. She was a physical therapist and volunteered at a center for the disabled. I still wasn’t scared. Because in my mind I knew he was perfect.
When the doctor said he had cerebral palsy I didn’t think any different. He’s still perfect. Sure I was scared, I didn’t understand, and I didn’t know what the future held.
Flash forward 13 years, Joe is still perfect. Yes he does talk a little funny, his arm continues to get smaller or appear smaller as the rest of his body grows. He walks with a limp but he still perfect.
In the 13 years of his life he may have seen one person ad or on a TV show that looked just like him. We’ve seen a few hemiplegics in the store and he always lit up especially when he was young, and would say “mom, he looks just like me.” We went to a camp one summer and all the kids where all the kids were hemiplegics, like Joe. I never heard him talk louder, more confident, full of life as when he did when he was with the kids. that weekend. There was no judging. There was no staring. There was no funny remarks or under the breath statements. Everyone was equal.
I think back to the years from when Joe was 4 till the time he was 13 and had he seen more kids like him in print or advertising, would it have changed who he was. I don’t know. But what I do know is I think it’s time we find out. I think it’s time for all of us, including me & you, to see people just like us. To stand a little taller. Be a little more confident and love ourselves for exactly who we are.
I think it is important to talk about it. Don’t freak out that you aren’t using “the right words.” I get it.. .. As I type this, I’m constantly hoping I am not offending anyone. Constantly questioning myself. As long as it is coming from the heart, it is good.
P.S. I know I haven’t blogged in a bit. But I am excited to start again and chat about Africa and Change the Face of Beauty. SO much great stuff to feed the soul.