The other day, I took my almost two-year-old son out in his pram for a walk to the shops.
He was dressed rather smartly in jeans, a shirt and a hat. He was wearing his favourite blue runners and clutched in his sweet little hand was his very favourite ‘Batman’ toy. He was all kinds of happy to be out and about on an adventure with Mummy. Because let’s face it…when you’re two, every day is an adventure, at least for poor Mummy.
So we arrive at the shops and all is well. Malakye is behaving and quite content to just be checking out his new surroundings. Like most almost 2-year-olds, he squealed with excitement when he saw something that caught his eye and waved at strangers as they passed him by. He delighted in the different sounds, colours, smells, and people he was witnessing.
After browsing the store and picking up a few items. It came time to pay. I went to the register and a lovely old lady began to serve me. She noticed I had a pram and leaned over the counter to peer in at my perfect, healthy and gorgeous baby.
She recoiled in horror. “Oh I’m so SORRY about your son, such a tragedy”, she said, looking anywhere but at the smiling little boy in my pram. I too looked at my son, but he was content and happy, if a little confused about what all the fuss was about.
But I knew. Deep in the bottom of my heart, I knew.
You see, my son was born missing his right forearm and hand. But he is anything but a ‘tragedy’ and definitely nothing to be sorry about.
In fact, he is just a normal little boy who happens to have one and a half arms. Just a little dude. And he is one cool little dude at that.
He likes music and things that have wheels and his very most favourite toy in the world is his Batman. He is little brother to seven sisters and one proud big brother. He loves playing with balls. He loves going on the swing and down the slide at the park. He likes feeding his dog Max.
He likes tormenting our cats by chasing them around the house trying to ‘pat’ them. He likes to wake up at 3am and say “Batman Batman Batman” over and over again. He likes eating every type of food imaginable including cat food. He likes climbing all the shelves of the bookshelf like it is a staircase and scaring me half to death. He likes baths and cuddles and kisses and tickles and snuggles. He likes shoes and his little jazz hat with skulls on it and he loves, loves, loves meeting new people.
When I look at my son, I do not see something to be sorry about. I do not see a tragedy. I see a miracle. A gift of life. An inspiration. I see my heart running around outside my body on two legs. I do not even notice his limb difference any more. There is nothing that he cannot or will not do. But he does not need people like you to feel sorry for him. He needs you to see past his physical difference, and at him. The incredible, smart, amazing and yes, gorgeously perfect, little human that he is. The glorious, talented man with every opportunity at his fingertips that he is yet to grow in to.
Thankfully, Malakye isn’t yet old enough to understand when people react to him in the manner that this woman did. When he is, I hope that I will have raised him to rise above such ignorance and to shine as he is meant to. As we are all meant to.
I cannot wait to see what Malakye will do next.
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