Last Saturday I had a young boy who was probably about 7 years old ask me, "When are you going to start shrinking?" Now that is a question I have never heard before. After many years of life on God's green earth, but not too many because a lady is entitled to her vanity, I have heard a slew of questions related to my size, shape and overall demeanor. Usually the questions are something like this, "What happened to you? Do your legs work? Where is your mom? How old are you? Why are you so small?" I have a pretty concise speech about the disease and its impact on my everyday life. I can usually answer any question with calm grace. After a brief interview most children are satisfied and go on their way without a second thought. The conversation almost always starts with the same question, "Why are you so small?" Perhaps not surprisingly it isn't a question only children ask. Adults are curious too. This reminds me of John 9. But I don't think the aim of the questions are to be cruel or they wouldn't be asking me anything.
Last Saturday, this question, "When will you start shrinking?" was so very different from anything I had ever been asked before that it caught me off guard. Even when he repeated the question, I still wasn't quite sure
|Tess at age 7|
Truth is, I have seen kids who stare, kids who cry and yes even kids who feel like they have to touch me to see if I am real. There are two ways to react. First, you can become embittered and angry. Secondly, you can show a bit of empathy and realize if you were 7 years old and saw someone you thought was a gorgeous pixie momma, you'd be dying to ask a few questions too. It's not an act of hate that propels a child to explore their world. By reacting in shock, and yanking a child out of these sort of situations, you are letting them know that this person they are so curious to know is nothing more than a problem to be avoided at all costs. No human being is merely a problem to be avoided. And while the questions may seem dehumanizing, reacting with horror is actually the dehumanizing act. Do the questions become a nuisance at times? Absolutely! Especially on days that you are feeling stressed about life, the universe and everything. On those days, to be reminded that on top of everything else you are still a little person, is definitely trying. However, if I can't realize the facts of my own life, come to terms with them, and then take the time to share with others, how can I expect to create a world where I am treated with respect and understanding?
Eventually, I did collect my thoughts and answered all of this little boy's questions. We ended our conversation with a demonstration of my movable legs that did in fact exist. After that he went to the snack machine and pressed his face against the glass. Once his mom came out of the restroom he demanded chips.
Even as crazy as they are, I really love kids.